Presented By O'Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
Sept 29–Oct 1, 2015 • New York, NY

Great debate: Big data will live in the cloud

Alistair Croll (Solve For Interesting), Joseph Adler (Facebook), Margaret Dawson (Red Hat), Joseph Sirosh (Compass), Evan Prodromou (
2:55pm–3:35pm Thursday, 10/01/2015
Business & Innovation
Location: 1 E16 / 1 E17
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 5 ratings)

Data has gravity. Jim Gray once said that, “compared to the cost of moving bytes around, everything else is free,” and because of what this means for the economics of computing, the more data you have, the more it wants to be near other data. That means all big data systems, eventually, will live in centralized cloud environments.

On the other hand, different data is processed in different ways, and much of it is private, governed by organizational policies and national borders. So data lives in islands, carefully insulated from attack or misuse. Rather than pay recurring service costs, companies want to own and depreciate their hardware. And mainframes aren’t going away. So big data systems will live on-premises.

Confused? Hopefully this session will help you sort it out. In this Oxford-style debate, two teams try to convince you they’re right, and you vote for the winner. The no-holds-barred argument promises to be lively and controversial, so come pick a side.

Photo of Alistair Croll

Alistair Croll

Solve For Interesting

Alistair Croll is an entrepreneur with a background in web performance, analytics, cloud computing, and business strategy. In 2001, he cofounded Coradiant (acquired by BMC in 2011) and has since helped launch Rednod, CloudOps, Bitcurrent, Year One Labs, and several other early-stage companies. He works with startups on business acceleration and advises a number of larger companies on innovation and technology. A sought-after public speaker on data-driven innovation and the impact of technology on society, Alistair has founded and run a variety of conferences, including Cloud Connect, Bitnorth, and the International Startup Festival, and is the chair of O’Reilly’s Strata Data Conference. He has written several books on technology and business, including the best-selling Lean Analytics. Alistair tries to mitigate his chronic ADD by writing about far too many things at Solve For Interesting.

Photo of Joseph Adler

Joseph Adler


Joseph Adler has many years of experience in data mining and data analysis at companies including DoubleClick, Verisign, and LinkedIn. Currently, he is director of product management and data science at Confluent. He is the holder of several patents for computer security and cryptography and the author of Baseball Hacks and R in a Nutshell. He graduated from MIT with a BSc and MEng in computer science and electrical engineering.

Photo of Margaret Dawson

Margaret Dawson

Red Hat

A 20-year tech industry veteran, Margaret leads global product marketing for the Integrated Solutions business unit at Red Hat. She is a frequent author and speaker on cloud computing, big data, open source, women in tech, and the intersection of business and technology. Margaret is a proven entrepreneur and intrapreneur, having led successful programs and teams at several startups, such as Aventail and Hubspan, and Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and HP. Prior to Red Hat, she was VP of Product Marketing and Cloud Evangelist for HP Helion, the cloud computing division of Hewlett-Packard. Her passions include agile marketing, mentoring, helping companies use technology to drive business success, and fast muscle cars!

Photo of Joseph Sirosh

Joseph Sirosh


Joseph Sirosh is the chief technology officer at Compass. Previously, he was the corporate vice president of the Cloud AI Platform at Microsoft, where he lead the company’s enterprise AI strategy and products such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Search, and Bot Framework; the corporate vice president for Microsoft’s Data Platform; the vice president for Amazon’s Global Inventory Platform, responsible for the science and software behind Amazon’s supply chain and order fulfillment systems, as well as the central Machine Learning Group, which he built and led; and the vice president of research and development at Fair Isaac Corp., where he led R&D projects for DARPA, Homeland Security, and several other government organizations. He’s passionate about machine learning and its applications and has been active in the field since 1990. Joseph holds a PhD in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin and a BTech in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Chennai.

Photo of Evan Prodromou

Evan Prodromou

Evan Prodromou is founder and CTO of, an AI-as-a-service startup based in Montreal. His previous startups include Wikitravel, StatusNet, where he led development of StatusNet and Open Source social software, and Breather. He is chair of the W3C working group on Social Web standards.