Strata Conference London – The European way of dealing with Big Data

It was a pleasure for comSysto to be part of the Strata Conference London 2013 from November 11th – 13th 2013. Around 1000 mostly European people met in the London Hilton Metropole hotel to follow a conference excellently organised by O’Reilly. There was great food and a lot of staff supporting you finding your way to the presentation areas. Unfortunately, the five rooms were spread across two buildings and thus participants were forced to walk around a lot. That wasn’t that bad though, since walking cleared our heads.

Most of the top Big Data players sponsored the conference and provided a lot of insight into their products in the Sponsor Lounge. Apart from O’Reilly, all of them got the same space for their booth so there was no technology over-represented. All of them had to make the best out of a very small sponsor booth. It was great to meet our partners from MapR and Cloudera  for nice conservation and face to face cooperation planning.  Furthermore, the Sponsor Lounge was a great place for community activity and conversations. Check out the official photos at http://oreil.ly/1amUJHw.

The talks covered very different applications and very different approaches to solve Big Data problems. Overall, they provided a very broad overview about Big Data activity in Europe. Unfortunately, most talks went the same way and boiled down to describing problems that couldn’t be solved in a perfect way. The conference and talks gave the impression that Big Data in Europe is still in a starting position. Many people try to approach Big Data solutions, but most are still fighting with many problems. It would have been great to have had more experienced speakers,  e.g. from the US, that could have provided a deeper and an overall higher quality of talks.

On the last day of the conference, comSysto and our Big Data Analyst Markus Schmidberger had the pleasure to teach a three-and-a-half hour tutorial about “Big Data analyses with R”. About 120 people followed the tutorial, learned a lot about packages such as plyr, sqldf, parallel, ggplot2, bigvis, shiny, rmr2, plyrmr and rmongodb, used RStudio Server to connect to a training cluster and went home with a lot of new ideas for analysing Big Data with R. There was a lot of positive feedback about using R for Big Data. The slides of the tutorial are available online. If you are interested in learning more about R, please check our R trainings in Munich, Germany.

Notes from @cloudHPC alias Markus: It’s nice to see that companies like BBVA (http://www.bbva.es) are trying to create the same business impact from different Big Data sources as we do. It’s also great that there’s a lot of community activity going on: Data Science and Big Data meetups on Monday and Tuesday evening were crammed with geeks eating pizza. Listening to the talks I often heard things like “we are using R for our analyses”, and I saw many graphs that had a strong R layout. It’s great to see that R is getting more and more popular in Europe. Unfortunately, many people run into the same general Big Data problems. My impression is that there’ll be a lot of activity required to improve Big Data knowledge in Europe.

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