In a move to spur category-defining companies at every layer of the big data stack, Venture capital firm Accel Partners has launched a $100 million "Big Data Fund."
The fund targets transformative companies in the big data ecosystem, including next-generation storage, data management platforms, data analytics, vertical applications and mobile. Accel has a clear motive: Big data drives innovation across its existing portfolio companies.
"Big data is the future of IT and we believe big data will drive the next-generation of multibillion-dollar software companies," said Ping Li, who leads the Big Data Fund for Accel Partners. "Vendors that effectively pave the way for big data to be leveraged for ever-evolving business-use cases, such as Cloudera -- will determine the winners in this next wave of cloud computing."
Accel Partners sees a clear need for more investment in big data, pointing to unprecedented volumes, varieties and velocities of data in IT departments that admins need to store, manage and mine.
The firm noted how newly proliferating unstructured and semi-structured data types are reshaping traditional data platforms and technologies. That, the venture capitalist said, is leading to a radical shift in the relational database era and the applications born from it. Industry analysts agree.
Benjamin Woo, program vice president, storage systems and lead analyst for IDC's Big Data Group, said next-generation big data technology innovation will be pervasive and cut across all layers of the big data stack -- from hardware components like SSDs to data organization and management solutions like Hadoop and NoSQL, to applications including analytics, business intelligence and collaboration.
"Big data is creating a lasting revolution in data centers across all vertical markets," Woo said, "paving the way for a new set of applications to be built on new big data platforms rather than legacy relational databases."
A Lucrative Investment
The big data industry is still in its infancy -- but the possibilities are, well, big. IDC reports big data will drive $22 billion in cloud storage and spending alone by 2015. Although the movers in big data so far have been traditional systems vendors and larger vendors that recognize the opportunity, like IBM, EMC, HP and Oracle, smaller players are emerging.
"There's a great deal of innovation in the big data space but a lot of it is happening among smaller players," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "In some cases they are creating either specialized tools or solutions for every specific kinds of big data problems. An example would be a big data solution aimed specifically at parsing and analyzing digital video."
King expects some small companies in the big data space to get larger and develop a sustainable business for themselves. Others will develop technology that makes them acquisition targets for the likes of IBM, Oracle or EMC.
"We're not talking about the Pets.com sock puppet. The consensus among well-established vendors like IBM and EMC is that the big data space is very much alive and well and is going to be a growing concern," King said. "So playing angel to small companies with good ideas in this space could be a very lucrative investment strategy for Accel."