Large corporations and government entities have been using supercomputers and data mining setups to glean actionable insights for decades. In the near future, small businesses with smaller IT budget will also benefit from the power of HPC and big data analytics.
The use of HPC and big data by small businesses was discussed during a panel at the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) in May. The panel which was moderated by Chris Pratt of IBM and Ron Van Holst of the OCE, brought to light the ways in which businesses and universities in the Ontario, Canada region are benefiting from new technologies.
One such company is the Canadian software company called Chematria, which is using HPC to accelerate the development of drugs, according to this IT Business Canada story. In the past, big pharmaceutical firms had to actually develop several prototypes of a new drug and test all of them. Now, computers are powerful enough to model the complex statistics involved in drug creation, Chemetria CEO Abe Heifets told the panel.
University researchers are also using HPC to develop better solar cells. Jennifer Flexman of the Sargent Laboratory at the University of Toronto told the panel how she is working with a group of 30 researchers to cut the cost of solar cell development. Currently, solar cells are not price-competitive with fossil fuels, but that could change with more efficient designs and manufacturing processes.
Earlier this year, the OCE teamed up with its partner, the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) consortium, to help small businesses figure out how to leverage HPC. The group aims to provide financial and technical assistance to help small manufacturers and R&D outfits utilize HPC to solve real-world problems and develop new products and services that can be commercialized in the province.
Leveraging big data-powered analytics against massive amounts of unstructured data is also within the realm of possibilities for small businesses now. Wayne Gudbranson, a representative from Branham Group, an Ottowa-based market consulting firm for IT companies, told the OCE panel that it’s only been in the last few years that companies have been able to analyze their unstructured data.
“Organizations will need to understand data, and then figure out response mechanisms to that data to achieve corporate goals,” Gudbranson said, according to the IT Business Canada story. Within five years, he said, traditional architectures “are going to be gone.”
IBM offers several big data solutions for small and midsize organizations, including Analytic Answers, a service that lives on IBM’s Smart Cloud. Analytic Answers, which IBM launched in October, helps customers squeeze insights from different types of data, ranging from social media entries and geospatial, to sales results and machine data. The solution is subscription-based, and utilizes a Web browser for loading data sets.