Anant Corporation Blog

Our research, knowledge, thoughts, and recommendations about building and leading businesses on the Internet.

Category Archives: Technology


The Swarm of Sources

Reactive Manifesto, The Next VisiCalc, and Future of Business Technology

Thanks to some of our great partnerships, our firm has recently consulted at University of Michigan, Cisco, Intuit, and Kroger and at several government agencies on business information and enterprise technology. Even though we don’t directly create consumer technology or applications, eventually all consumer technologies have a backend enterprise technology that makes it work because a consumer technology company backed by crappy technology for the enterprise is bad for business.
I’ve been sensing a shift in business information for a while. Business information, the frequency it’s created at, the number of sources it comes from is only increasing, exponentially if not logarithmically. This means, that businesses, and subsequently end-users need to rely on real-time data processing and analysis of this information. The businesses that embrace the “reactive manifesto” of how to build software and technology are going to succeed in the new world where data is coming from millions of people through their mobile devices, processes through applications and software processes, information through global data sources and APIs, and systems in the form of servers and things all over the globe. The “swarm” of sources is mind-boggling.
The Swarm of Sources

The Swarm of Sources

The first business response to all this business information is: let’s bring it all together to analyze it and visualize it. That’s horseshit. Even with the big data technologies out there today, it is wasteful to try to process all of it at the same time. That’s like trying to understand how the universe works at every second. The better response is to understand what’s happening and react to it at the moment in the context that it is important.
This reactive methodology of building large infrastructure can help businesses react to new IoT initiatives, integrating with numerous business software to run the modern enterprise, and partnering with other modern enterprises. Whatever you see out there in apps, devices, sites, and APIs has to be managed in the back. The reason for silicon brains is stronger when you just can’t do it with carbon brains. Technology has to get better faster through iterative machine learning in order keep up with the amount of data that’s being created.
Commercial organizations are being thrown sledgehammers to solve things by vendors such as Oracle, Cloudera, MapR, DataBricks, etc. Although these products are great, they are more like Personal Computers .. but without the real “Killer App.” They aren’t solving industry-specific / vertical problems. Consulting companies waste inordinate time & materials costs to get it “right.” What people need are “lego block” software so that non-technical folks can self-service their information needs without hiring a team of data analyst, data engineer, data architect, data scientist, data visualizer, and of course a project manager. (If you do need a team today, Anant provides an elastic team with all of those skills for the same investment per month as a part-time or full-time employee. Message me or my team.)
I believe the major breakthrough that will change the experience for business technology users is going to be system design tools that help them get what they want without knowing how to program. I don’t know what it will look like, but we need a VisiCalc for the new age, and no it’s not Google Spreadsheets. It’s something else altogether. It’s something that will fix the yearning for a tool that helps people mashup and leverage various gradients between structured and unstructured data in dynamic knowledge pages that always keeps us up to date on what we care about. A machine that learns what we need to know and summarizes it for us, but also allows us to manipulate the knowledge even if it is being created in 10 different systems.

DC Data Wranglers: It’s a Balloon! A Blimp! No, a Dirigible! Apache Zeppelin: Query Solr via Spark

I had the pleasure this past Wednesday of introducing Eric Pugh (@dep4b) to the Data Wranglers DC Meetup group. He spoke about using Solr and Zeppelin in data processing and; specifically, the ways big data can easily be processed and displayed as visualizations in Zeppelin. Also broached was Docker, an application Anant uses, and its role in setting up environments for data processing and analysis. Unfortunately, no actual blimps or zeppelins were seen during the talk, but the application of data analysis to events they usually fly over was presented on last month during a discussion about Spark, Kafka, and the English Premier League.

 

Instead of trying to completely rehash Eric’s presentation, please check out his material for yourself (available below). In short, he showed how multiple open-source tools can be used to process, import, manipulate, visualize, and share your information. More specifically, Spark is a fast data processing engine which you can use to prepare your data for presentation and analysis. Whereas, Zeppelin is a mature, enterprise-ready application; as shown by its recent graduation from Apache’s Incubator Program; and is a great tool to manipulate and visualize processed data.

 

 

 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or if you are interested in participating or speaking at a future Data Wranglers DC event. Each event is recorded, livestreamed on the Data Community DC Facebook page and attended by 50 or more individuals interested in data wrangling, data processing, and possible outcomes from these efforts. After the monthly event, many members continue their discussions at a local restaurant or bar.

 

I hope to see you at an event in the near future!

containers

Q: Why Docker? Why December 17?

A: To make it easy to package and ship code.

 

Docker can be your assembly line for software production. If you’re building software with complex architecture, using software like Docker can significantly reduce the time for software development, testing, and deployment through the use of “containers”. For the client, this approach can significantly reduce software development costs, accelerate delivery cycles and launch times of ideas, and potentially decrease coding errors that hinder your services and hurt the bottom line. Docker is used by thousands of companies as part of their DevOps processes and its adoption is expected to continue to grow. Here are a few examples: Red Hat, Rackspace, Spotify, and more!

 

One of Docker’s great attributes is its ‘malleability.’ You can rapidly build things and tear them down if needed, enabling you to nimbly adapt when an urgent application deployment arises. Docker’s greatest utility is in situations where a client or project needs to quickly stand up a developing and testing environment, an application, and all the associated dependencies. We plan to show how we are using Docker internally and externally to service both our clients’ and our needs.

 

To a technologist, the beneficial aspects of Docker are clear; however, there are other benefits that accrue to the end user as well. First, the end user more than likely will not need to modify their hardware and software setup to accommodate Docker assembled applications. Applications will not force the user to restart the whole application or worry about ‘fluff’ filling their servers. Finally, the isolation feature inherent with Docker containers walls off the application while also reducing the draw on computing power providing some additional security advantages and better overall performance of computing platforms.

 

The workshop on 12/17 will focus on the technical side of using Docker. We will present Docker basics for both Linux and Windows, as well as doing a review of Docker Compose and other Docker tools. While we want everyone to know and share about how to use these features, we hope you can explain why Docker is being adopted and how end users also benefit.

 

You can sign up here and contact us at solutions@anant.us if you have any questions!

How to use Kafka to understand the English Premier League

Here at Anant we are very interested in data wrangling (aka data munging), which basically means, we want to be able to help people take data in one format and convert it to a form that best suits their needs. One way we keep up to date is through the excellent Data Wranglers DC group that meets monthly here in Washington.

 

At the most recent meeting, the group tackled the challenge of integrating real-time video and data streams. Mark Chapman, who is a Solutions Engineering Manager at Talend, explained how his company utilized Spark and Kafka in their product to analyze real time data in the English Premier League (EPL). In addition to the video inputs at 25 frames per second from cameras throughout the stadium, the stream was correlated to data connected to players’ heart rates and other measurements. The EPL is then able to overlay this information into replays to improve presentation and analysis as well as send data to companies offering in-game wagers.

 

The presentation was very interesting and Mark graciously shared his slides:

 

If you are in any way interested in data wrangling – just like it sounds, getting data under control and to work for you – we would love to hear from you and let you know what might be possible with your data streams. If you are in DC and are interested in the technical side of data munging, please come out to the next event and meet us. This past presentation was hosted by ByteCubed (@bytecubed), in Crystal City, but the gatherings have been in Foggy Bottom as well.

Webinar 4 Recap: How to Organize Business Information with Enterprise Search & Knowledge Management (B2B)

Thank you to everyone who recently joined us for our final installation of the autumn B2B webinar series focused on data integration and data management basics!

 

We plan to put together more informational webinars in the new year. Before winter settles in, though, imagine yourself on a deserted, tropical island with only a boat and just a few hours until sundown. In the distance, you can see other islands and you know each of them has just one thing you need — food, water, fuel, shelter, etc. The problem you now face is how to get to all of the islands in an efficient manner before sundown. However, without knowing which island has the fuel to power your boat, you are left guessing and hoping you can get everything. If only you had a map – or all of the supplies could be obtained from a central location – this process would be so much quicker, simpler, and easier. In the workplace, this problem plays out every day when you need to search for reports, documents, and other digital assets that help you efficiently run a business or project.

 

Do you find yourself using multiple systems to get your work done – Salesforce for lead tracking, G-Suite for collaboration, Box for digital storage, Sharepoint for site management, etc. – and feel like the technology gets in the way as you bounce from one application and window to another? Each time you sign up for an online service or install an app, you create a data island or data silo. These semi-isolated islands can rapidly grow in size and number and, without a plan to manage this growth, can quickly lead to wasted time and money as you look for things or redo a previously completed report. Last week’s webinar touched on these issues and, more importantly, shared how you can take control and bring these islands together with a knowledge management system and enterprise search.

 

Knowledge management is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information generated by your company. Martin White, an enterprise search and information management strategy consultant, has defined enterprise search as, “a managed search environment that enables employees to find information they can rely on in making decisions that will achieve organization and personal objectives.” These two concepts complement each other and the webinar goes into far greater detail about their importance to your company and how you can think about them as you set up or revamp your knowledge management processes.

 

Remember, just like with a car or bike, there are systems to meet all sizes and budgets. We highly recommend you take the time to assess the systems you are looking at and understand what some of your objectives are before spending the money to connect your islands and silos of information. Having these goals and objectives in mind beforehand will save you countless hours during setup and limit the time and expense of future changes you might want to make as your company grows. You might ask yourself, “Why should I go through the headache of this in the first place, it sounds dreadful,” and, to this, I would reply that not leveraging technology will leave you at a competitive disadvantage. With a proper knowledge management and search system in place, you will be nimbler and obtain more insightful analysis into your operations and clients at both a tactical and strategic level.

 

You can find the slides from the presentation below:

 

This webinar was the last in a series of three others which included:

  1. Webinar 1 – Building Online Business Software 101 (B2B)
  2. Webinar 2 – How to Connect Online Business Software 101 (B2B)
  3. Webinar 3 Unifying Business Information with Portals and Dashboards (B2B)

 


Come see us present in person at one of our upcoming events. Anant can be reached at solutions@anant.us for questions, inquiries, and comments.