IDC says big data will be $24B market in 2016; I say it’s bigger

Research firm IDC is predicting a big data market that will grow revenue at 31.7 percent a year until it hits the $23.8 billion mark in 2016. That’s a big number for a relatively new market, but it only tells part of the story of where big data technology will make money.

Defining “big data” isn’t always an easy task, and breaking it out into a group of separate technologies might not be either. While this report appears to subsume a May 2012 report from IDC predicting an $813 million Hadoop market, it certainly doesn’t include the market for analytics software. In July, IDC predicted that market — which is a critical piece of the overall big data picture — would hit $51 billion by 2016. (Heck, IBM’s (s ibm) Steve Mills said he expects IBM to do $15 billion in analytics revenue itself by 2015.)

IDC segments its report and predictions into servers, storage, networking, software and services, predicting storage will see the biggest growth at a 53.4 percent compound annual growth rate.

However, such distinctions might only be possible as long as big data remains primarily an on-premises activity. Calculating the revenue that cloud providers are making by hosting big data applications likely isn’t an easy feat, nor is calculating the revenue that the litany list of cloud-based big data services (from newbies like Continuuity to tried-and-true ones like Elastic MapReduce (s amazon) ) will generate in the years to come.

And where does one include the rash of Software-as-a-Service applications targeting fields from marketing to publishing? They’re all about big data at their core, but the companies selling them certainly don’t fit into the mold of “big data” vendors.

However you define it, though, there’s no denying that big data will be a huge market. Whenever you hear terms like Hadoop, analytics, machine learning, machine-to-machine, data warehouse, NoSQL, data science, visualization, data management — you name it — someone somewhere is associating them with big data revenue. And even when the marketing hype and overly broad categorizations (and perhaps false distinctions) subside, the business of capturing, storing, processing, analyzing and visualizing data — however it’s done — is only going to get bigger.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user extradeda.