Are Master Data Management and Hadoop a Good Match?

Master Data is the critical electronic information about the company we cannot afford to lose. Accordingly, we should sanitise it, look after it, and store it safely in several separate places that are independent of each other. The advent of Big Data introduced the current era of huge repositories ?in the clouds?. They are not, of course but at least they are remote. This short article includes a discussion about Hadoop, and whether this is a good platform to back up your Master Data.

About Hadoop

Hadoop is an open-source Apache software framework built on the assumption that hardware failure is so common that backups are unavoidable. It comprises a storage area and a management part that distributes the data to smaller nodes where it processes faster and more efficiently. Prominent users include Yahoo! and Facebook. In fact more than half Fortune 50 companies were using Hadoop in 2013.

Hadoop – initially launched in December 2011 ? has survived its baptism of fire and became a respected, reliable option. But is this something the average business owner can tackle on their own? Bear in mind that open source software generally comes with little implementation support from the vendor.

The Hadoop Strong Suite

  • Free to download, use and contribute to
  • Everything you need ?in the box? to get started
  • Distributed across multiple fire-walled computers
  • Fast processing of data held in efficient cluster nodes
  • Massive scaleable storage you are unlikely to run out of

Practical Constraints

There is more to Hadoop than writing to WordPress. The most straightforward solutions are uploading using Java commands, obtaining an interface mechanism, or using third party vendor connectors such as ACCESS or SAS. The system does not replace the need for IT support, although it is cheap and exceptionally powerful.

The Not-Free Safer Option

Smaller companies without in-depth in-house support are wise to engage with a technical intermediary. There are companies providing commercial implementations followed by support. Microsoft, Amazon and Google among others all have commercial versions in their catalogues, and support teams at the end of the line.

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ecoVaro to tackle water stress

For many people within the UK, water is not really something to worry about. Surely enough of it falls out the sky throughout the year that it does feel highly unlikely that we?ll ever run out of it. There certainly does seem to be an abundance of Branded Water available in plastic bottles on our supermarket shelves.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ? Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Despite this, Once-unthinkable water crises are becoming commonplace.  If you consider that In England and Wales, we use 16 billion litres of clean drinking water every day ? that’s equivalent to 6,400 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Currently, water companies can provide slightly more than we need ? 2 billion litres are available above and beyond what we’re using.  In some areas, though, such as south east England, there is no surplus and, as such, these regions are more likely to face supply restrictions in a dry year.

If we take little moment to reflect on some of the most notable water related stories over the past few years, we’ll start to get a picture of just how real the potential and the threat of water shortages can be.

Reservoirs in Chennai, India?s sixth-largest city, are nearly dry right now. Last year, residents of Cape Town, South Africa narrowly avoided their own Day Zero water shut-off.

It was only year before that, Rome rationed water to conserve scarce resources.

Climate change is likely to mean higher temperatures which may drive up the demand for water (alongside population growth) and increase evaporation from reservoirs and water courses during spring and summer.

The impact of climate change on total rainfall is uncertain, but the rain that does fall is likely to arrive in heavier bursts in winter and summer. Heavier rain tends to flow off land more quickly into rivers and out to sea, rather than recharging groundwater aquifers.

A greater chance of prolonged dry periods is also conceivable.  This combined with the harsh reality that no human population can sustain itself without sufficient access to fresh water.

If present conditions continue, 2 out of 3 people on Earth will live within a water-stressed zone by 2025

What is water stress?

Water stress is a term used to describe situation when demand for water is greater than the amount of water available at a certain period in time, and also when water is of poor quality and this restricts its usage. Water stress means deterioration in both the quantity of available water and the quality of available water due to factors affecting available water.

Water stress refers to the ability, or lack thereof, to meet human and ecological demand for water. Compared to scarcity, water stress is a more inclusive and broader concept.

Water Stress considers several physical aspects related to water resources, including water scarcity, but also water quality, environmental flows, and the accessibility of water.

Supply and Demand

Major factors involved when water scarcity strikes is when a growing populations demand for water exceeds the areas ability to service that need.

Increased food production and development programs also lead to increased demand for water, which ultimately leads to water stress.

Increased need for agricultural irrigation in order to produce more crops or sustain livestock are major contributors to localised water stress.

Overconsumption

The demand for water in a given population is fairly unpredictable.  Primarily, based on the fact that you can never accurately predict human behaviour and changes in climate.

If too many people are consuming more water than they need because they mistakenly believe that water is freely available and plentiful, then water stress could eventually occur.

This is also linked to perceived economic prosperity of a give region.  Manufacturing demand for water can have huge impact regardless whether water is actively used within the manufacturing process or not.

Water Quality

Water quality in any given area is never static.  Water stress could happen as a result of rising pollution levels having a direct impact on water quality.

Water contamination happens when new industries either knowingly or unknowingly contaminate water with their industrial practices.

Largely, this can happen and frequently does so because these industries do not take effective control of monitoring and managing their impact on communal water supplies.  Incorrectly assuming this is the responsibility of an additional third party like the regional water company.

The truth is, water quality and careful monitoring of it is all of our responsibility.

Water Scarcity

Simple increases in demand for water can in itself contribute to water scarcity. However,  these are often preceded by other factors like poverty or just the natural scarcity of water in the area.

In many instances, the initial locations of towns or cities were not influenced by the close proximity of natural resources like water, but rather in pursuit of the extraction of other resources like Gold, Coal or Diamonds.

For Instance, Johannesburg,  South Africa is the largest City in South Africa and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is also located in the mineral rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.

Johannesburg is also one of the only major cities of the world that was not built on a river or harbour.   However, it does have streams that contribute to two of Southern Africas mightiest rivers – Limpopo and the Orange rivers.  However, most of the springs from which many of these streams emanate are now covered in concrete!

Water Stress and Agriculture

Peter Buss, co-founder of Sentek Technology calls ground moisture a water bank and manufactures ground sensors to interrogate it. His hometown of Adelaide is in one of the driest states in Australia. This makes monitoring soil water even more critical, if agriculture is to continue. Sentek has been helping farmers deliver optimum amounts of water since 1992.

The analogy of a water bank is interesting. Agriculturists must ?bank? water for less-than-rainy days instead of squeezing the last drop. They need a stream of real-time data and utilize cloud-based storage and processing power to curate it.

Sentek?s technology can be found in remote places like Peru?s Atacamba desert and the mountains of Mongolia, where it supports sustainable floriculture, forestry, horticulture, pastures, row crops and viticulture through precise delivery of scarce water.

This relies on precision measurement using a variety of drill and drop probes with sensors fixed at 4? / 10cm increments along multiples of 12? / 30cm up to 4 times. These probe soil moisture, soil temperature and soil salinity, and are readily repositioned to other locations as crops rotate.

Peter Buss is convinced that measurement is a means to an end and only the beginning. ?Too often, growers start watering when plants don’t really need it, wasting water, energy, and labour. By accurately monitoring water can be saved until when the plant really needs it.

Peter also emphasises that crop is the ultimate sensor, and that ?we should ask the plant what it needs?.

This takes the debate a stage further. Water wise farmers should plant water-wise crops, not try to close the stable door after the horse has bolted and dry years return.

The South Australia government thinks the answer also lies in correct farm dam management. It wants farmers to build ones that allow sufficient water to bypass in order to sustain the natural environment too.

There is more to water management than squeezing the last drop. Soil moisture goes beyond measuring for profit. It is about farming sustainably using data from sensors to guide us.

Ecovaro is ahead of the curve as we explore imaginative ways to exploit the data these provide for the common good of all.

A Quarter of the World?s Population, Face High Water Stress

Data from WRI?s Aqueduct tools reveal that 17 countries ? home to one-quarter of the world?s population?face ?extremely high? levels of baseline water stress, where irrigated agriculture, industries and municipalities withdraw more than 80% of their available supply on average every year. 

Water stress poses serious threats to human lives, livelihoods and business stability. It’s poised to worsen unless countries act: Population growth, socioeconomic development and urbanization are increasing water demands, while climate change can make precipitation and demand more variable.  

How to manage water stress

Water stress is just one dimension of water security. However, like any challenge, its outlook depends on adequate monitoring and management of environmental data.

Even countries with relatively high water stress have effectively secured their water supplies through proper management by leveraging the knowledge they have garnered by learning from the data they gathered.

3 ways to help reduce water stress

In any geography, water stress can be reduced by measures ranging from common sense to innovative technology solutions.

There are countless solutions, but here are three of the most straightforward:

1. Increase agricultural efficiency: The world needs to make every drop of water go further in its food systems. Farmers can use seeds that require less water and improve their irrigation techniques by using precision watering rather than flooding their fields.

Businesses need to increase investments to improve water productivity, while engineers develop technologies that improve efficiency in agriculture.

Consumers can reduce food loss and waste, which uses one-quarter of all agricultural water.

2. Invest in grey and green infrastructure:  D Data produced by Aqueduct Alliance  –  shows that water stress can vary tremendously over the year.  WRI and the World Bank?s research shows that built infrastructure (like pipes and treatment plants) and green infrastructure (like wetlands and healthy watersheds) can work in tandem to tackle issues of both water supply and water quality.

3. Treat, reuse and recycle:  We need to stop thinking of wastewater as waste.

Treating and reusing it creates a ?new? water source.

There are also useful resources in wastewater that can be harvested to help lower water treatment costs. For example, plants in Xiangyang, China and Washington, D.C. reuse or sell the energy- and nutrient-rich byproducts captured during wastewater treatment.

Summary

The data is undeniably clear, there are very worrying trends in water.

Businesses and other other organisations need to start taking action now and investing in better monitoring and management, we can solve water issues for the good of people, economies and the planet. We collectively cannot kick this can down the road any further, or assume that this problem will be solved by others.

It is time, for a collective sense of responsibility and for everyone to invest in future prosperity of our Planet as a collective whole.  Ecological preservation should be at the forefront of all business plans because at the end of the day profit is meaningless without an environment to enjoy it in!

What is Business Intelligence?

How well do you know your customers? That is, can you actually pinpoint which among them are you most profitable with and which are making you spend more? Are you content with the accuracy of your forecasts and market predictions? Do you feel you’re spending more on legal costs and regulatory compliance than you should?

Your IT department may be handling these concerns pretty well but perhaps you’d like to know how you can further improve things.

What we’ve got is an IT solution wrapped in a fancy name called ‘Business Intelligence’ or BI. If you think that’s too strong a term, we invite you to read more below, then you be the judge.

Dashboards – Determine the health of your business at a glance

Most drivers rarely make use of their car’s dashboard. After all, you can still reach your destination by just using the steering wheel, pedals, gear stick and so on. But that’s not exactly the most efficient way to drive, right?

If you want to save on fuel, you’ll want to glance on the RPM and speedometer from time to time. You might also want to utilise the trip meter to determine which route is the shortest to a given destination. Other dashboard components like the fuel gauge, tire pressure gauge, engine temperature indicator, and volt meter can likewise provide information about your car’s health.

The same concept applies to business management. If you want to run your business intelligently, you can make use of BI dashboards. These are tools in a typical business intelligence package that will allow you to determine the health of your business via a set of smartly configured gauges and other intuitive graphical representations.

So that, literally, at a mere glance, you’ll already know whether various units in your company are working efficiently. A dashboard will also give you instant feedback of the strategies you’ve recently implemented; to let you know if things are working as planned.

If you want more information than a dashboard can provide, our BI packages also include highly customised reports.

Reports that help you decide faster

Dashboards are great for getting valuable information at a glance but they won’t tell you everything. For more details, you’ll need to view highly customised reports. Our reports are tailor made for each user. We see to it that, by default, each person gets the information he needs the most.

If you belong to the sales department, you normally won’t need a presentation of the data that is appropriate for people in accounting. That way, you don’t spend time filtering. Instead, you and your people can move on to making well-informed decisions.

Our BI systems make use of your vast collection of data to provide reports that will organise your regulatory requirements and call your attention to approaching deadlines. The same system will provide the right information for your people on the field. If your team members are equipped with smart phones and Pocket PCs, they can retrieve whatever it is they need to know to close deals, make sales, and serve clients faster than the competition.

Generating logical information from disparate sources of data scattered over an enterprise-wide organisation is no easy task. But we’ll make it look simple. That’s because we’ve got the expertise to bring it all together into a robust data warehouse and to extract them in the form of reports and dashboards through OLAP.

OLAP and Data Warehousing – Powering the generation of actionable information

Want to know how to generate reports with the highest degree of accuracy and reliability? In theory, what you need is a single repository or a data warehouse. That is, order receipts, sales invoices, as well as customer & supplier data is integrated with regulatory details, personnel data, and others. These are all specially organised for future reporting and analysis.

However, data, no matter how all-embracing, is useless until it is processed into actionable information. Through OLAP or Online Analytical Processing, you can seamlessly collect all relevant data from your vast repository to answer queries like “What is our company’s profitability for the 2nd quarter in all identified key cities for our top-of-the-line products?”.

The strength of OLAP lies in its inherent ability to perform data analysis and very complex calculations, thus enabling it to return complex queries much faster than other database technologies. It is therefore suitable for very large data sources, i.e., data warehouses.

Dashboards and reports will only give your organisation the edge if the information retrieved is reliable, fast, and accurate – exactly the kind OLAP is so good at.

Mobile BI – Step back and see the big picture anytime, anywhere

Spreadsheets are great for displaying detailed information. However, in today’s highly competitive market, retrieving information that matters the most in the shortest possible time is vital in maintaining a sizeable lead over the competition. To step back and see the big picture, you’ll need insightful tools like dashboards and automatically generated reports.

Reports can be beamed to mobile devices such as smart phones and Pocket PCs. They can also be viewed on eBook readers as well. You can also do the same tasks with spreadsheets. But imagine how you’d need to scroll over a large spreadsheet on any of these mobile devices just to know which customer in your current location has performed well over the last month.

If you really want to make quick, well-informed decisions, BI dashboards for mobile devices is the way to go. You can make use of various business objects such as drill-able charts, performance metrics, and metric trend graphs to make crucial decisions even when on you’re in the field.

How to be cleaner and greener indoors

The supply of water on planet earth is finite hence the need to conserve this precious resource. Water is a utility that is often used in and outdoors and for that reason, water conservation activities should be undertaken everywhere.

Get greener everywhere
Water saving can be achieved through various ways. Of utmost importance, fixing leaks should be undertaken in all areas. Small household leaks can add up to gallons of water lost every day. It is therefore important to check all water system fixtures and ensure that there are no leakages.

Greener bathroom habits
Turning off taps- this should be practised in the bathroom especially while shaving and brushing teeth. One could also consider using showers instead of baths since showers use less water and get into the habit of taking shorter showers.

Clean and green dishes
The kitchen is one of the areas where a lot of water is used. Some of the ways through which water can be conserved in the kitchen are:

  • Use of basins when washing dishes by hand
  • Using a dishwasher – when using the dish washer, it is important to make sure it’s fully loaded. Scraping plates instead of rinsing before loading it into the dishwasher will also go a long way in the conservation of the valuable commodity called water

Green your laundry and earn green bucks
The other area where water saving can be made is the laundry room. Washing only full loads of laundry will ensure that your washing machine is running at full efficiency hence you will be able to maximise your washer for energy efficiency. Always ensure you use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine. All these will not only save water but energy too and since savings are earnings you can smile all the way to the bank where some green bucks will be credited to your account.

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