Andy Bechtolsheim on Big Data, Open Stack & The Future

Andy Bechtolsheim, Arista Networks, at Structure Big Data 2011Andy Bechtolsheim — computing pioneer, Sun Microsystems (s JAVA) co-founder and now CDO of Arista Networks — says when it comes to the trend of big data, keep a close eye on open source. Bechtolsheim, who made the remarks at GigaOM’s Big Data Conference in New York on Wednesday, says he was quite surprised that a variety of open-source data efforts have taken off in recent years in ways “he couldn’t have imagined,” twenty years ago.

As an example Bechtolsheim pointed to is the OpenStack project, an open-source cloud platform, which hopes to compete with several proprietary cloud platforms including those being developed by Microsoft and VMware. RackSpace is spearheading the OpenStack project and is donating the code that powers its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers to the OpenStack project, while the project is also going to incorporate tech from the Nebula Cloud Platform developed by NASA.

Bechtolsheim said that open source is “the space to watch,” and “a lot of really good things are happening here.” If enough people think something is important enough, and collaborate around a common goal, these types of projects can expand and scale, said Bechtolsheim.

Bechtolsheim also pointed to Google’s invention of the map reduce data base tool ten years ago, which all companies have access to these days via projects like Hadoop. “People don’t have to re-implement these complex systems over time.”

From his position as a rock star of the computing world for over three decades, Bechtolsheim has a long history of trendspotting. He was “hanging out” in Xerox’s labs in 1973, which led to his co-founding of Sun. Bechtolsheim said that Moore’s Law has shown progress unequaled in the history of mankind, he expects that transistors will improve in the same fashion for another 10 or 20 years — by the time he retires in 2030.

By that year computing and web companies will be spending 1,000 times less on servers and memory and hardware and that type of low-cost gear will usher in more innovations around open source and big data. At this point the network is actually the bottleneck, not the computing power and his most recent company Arista Networks builds switches that can network systems.

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