Commentary

Cloud Computing: A Solution For Web Analytics?

One of the major issues for Web media continues to be data. In the end, data is the thing that sets us apart. Because of interactivity, we have more information than any other medium. In fact, we have so much data, we're drowning in it. Bob Ivins, now with comScore, first stated that trying to parse web data was "like taking a drink out of a firehose." This was back when he was vice president, marketing, of I/PRO in the mid ‘90s. It was true then, and remains true today.

Given the size of the data cubes we have, it takes time to do everything. Simple reporting is a chore. Scheduled reporting is a good idea, but the adjustments that a media tracker or analyst must make to the data invariably necessitate exporting the waited-for report into a spreadsheet to make further refinements. The third-party ad-serving companies are lacking in dashboards and business rule capability that would help to automate reporting.

Given that this reporting takes so long, the time available to do real analysis of the data cube is sub-optimal. And, the reality is that it would take too long to crunch most of the data that folks want.

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Enter the future in cloud computing. Wikipedia defines cloud computing as  "a computing paradigm shift in which computing is moved away from personal computersor an individual application server to a ‘cloud' of computers. Users of the cloud only need to be concerned with the computing service being asked for, because the underlying details of how it is achieved are hidden. This method of distributed computings done by pooling computer resources and managing them via software (rather than by a human).

The services requested of a cloud are not limited to web applications, but may also include IT management tasks, such as requesting of systems, a software stack, or a specific web appliance."

I love it. Paradigm shift is back. All due to something that sounds a lot like peer-to-peer computing applied to the enterprise. Could it be that the experimentation that went on with programs like Napster 1.0 will change the face of enterprise computing?

A recent article in Business Week counted IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo at the forefront of cloud computing, which got me to thinking. Google buys DoubleClick (assuming the Europeans can clear their barriers on this). Microsoft buys aQuantive, which includes Atlas. All of a sudden the two top agency and advertiser third-party ad servers are associated with massive analytics crunching power like they've never had before. Rather than be afraid of the power that has been vested through Google and Microsoft owning so much data, let's look at this from a positive side. We could soon have the capability to answer a lot of the questions we haven't ever had the bandwidth to accomplish.

Time to think about what questions we really want to know the answers to.

 

 

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