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Big data, cloud, and the one terabyte round-trip

Leveraging data to make educated marketing decisions on the who, what, where, when, and how is only part of the story.  In the burgeoning world of machine to machine (M2M) communications, the value of data can be applied to almost any decision making process – even at 35,000 feet.

 for Geek.com posted a great blog on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner where, “David Bulman, Virgin Atlantic’s IT director, has put this into perspective. Virgin will begin using the 787 from next year, and has therefore had to plan ahead to cope with the data produced for each flight. Bulman says that for every flight a 787 takes, it can produce over 500GB of data.”

That’s over 1 Terabyte of big data for every round-trip flight. Think about the benefits this brings to passengers beyond in-flight communications and entertainment.  Diagnostic data gathered from nearly every machine or mechanical component of the plane communicated to the ground instantaneously enables faster analytics, troubleshooting, and decision making, all in the name of, first and foremost – safety, and secondly design improvements and innovation.

At 1 Terabyte per round-trip multiplied by hundreds of flights on a daily basis, the data adds up quickly.  put it best when he says, “airlines are going to become mini data centers in their own right, especially if they are operating on a large scale with hundreds of modern aircraft flying every day.” This is just the beginning. There are dozens of innovations in the air travel industry that will contribute to data growth, from RFID tracking to loading passport information onto devices that automatically verify and validate all passengers are present and accounted for.

As the use of digital technologies and M2M communications increases, so will the data.  These flying data centers are only going to get bigger in terms of their data footprint, and the intelligence gathered, thanks to the use of big data analytics, will only get more sophisticated.  for Computerworld UK  adds, “according to Bulman a scalable cloud solutions will be required to deal with the increase in data, which the company has seen double in the past two years, a rate that is likely to quicken in the future…The challenge is what do you do with that amount of data when you are getting terabytes of data a day off your various airplanes? We are getting to the stage right now where we cannot deal with that much.”

Airplanes “in the clouds” is taking on an entirely new meaning.

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