strata_hadoopThis year’s Strata + Hadoop World in New York City was all about “Making Data Work.” The key word: “Work,” which epitomized Strata 2015’s pronounced “business-y” tone. Perhaps it has something to do with location (New York compared to say, “perhaps-slightly-more-distanced-from-enterprise-reality” locales like Silicon Valley or Las Vegas), but the focus more likely represents a maturation in the Big Data space. From the exhibit floor to the lecture halls, Strata 2015 signified a shift from the conceptual to the practical. That was exemplified by this year’s presentations—plenty of strategic, but many corporate, including experiential Big Data story-telling from F1000 titans like Walmart, Netflix, and Lockheed Martin.

Other highlights:

Spend time on the show floor, and you’ll come away with a poetry textbook of slogans. Some of note: “Big Data…without all the swearing” (Altiscale), “Crush the Stack” (Arcadia Data), “We serve it up hot” (SAS—coffee theme, get it?).

The Most-interesting Booth Theme award goes to HP Security Voltage. The good folks from HP outfitted this particular booth (one of several HP-branded exhibit spaces) with a jungle safari theme, including life-size animal cut-outs, plants and ivy everywhere, and staff fully outfitted in khakis and pith helmets. (An interesting choice, given some recent unpleasantness.)

Runner up in the Most-interesting Booth Theme contest goes to Talend, a company that embraced (rather literally) a Star Wars theme, with a logo-emblazoned Stormtrooper wandering the floor, a muffin-eared princess greeting booth visitors, and a large (and somewhat off-putting) “life”-size image of Jabba the Hut lurking behind the booth podium. (I’m not suggesting anything untoward is going on, but if you were to say, license those images and likenesses through traditional channels, what would it cost? Maybe Disney’s an investor in Talend.)

One noticeable trend: The propagation of companies named “Data____.” Sure, the evidence is only anecdotal, but just for kicks, here’s an unofficial list of Strata NYC Data____ sponsors: Data Nova, Databricks, DataFactZ, DataGuise, Dataiku (slogan does not follow the 5-7-5 scheme), Datalenz, Datameer, DataRobot, DataRPM, DataSift, DataStax, DataStreams, DataTorrent, and DataWatch. This list doesn’t include all the good Data_____ buzzwords like Data Lake, Data Virtualization, Data Swamp, or Data-wrangling. Not exhibiting this year? Data Taco, which is a company that doesn’t technically exist but has a name I’m going to trademark. Still working on a slogan. (“Data Taco: Because ‘Data Monkey’ was taken.”)

Big Data = Big Fun, in a geeky way. The Strata “Game Hub” area featured an air hockey table, foosball table, pool table, and—I am not making this up—8-bit arcade video games. (Hey—Pac Man. All righty.) There was even a climbing wall. (Big Data engineers scaling a fake indoor mountain? Can’t see any legal or insurance risk there.) Whenever a climber summited (and that was pretty much every climber), he or she would hit a button that sounded an ear-piercing bell that echoed through the entire pavilion.

ThoughtSpot brought along a superhero. She was there mostly to communicate benefits messaging, but I’d like to believe she did some crime-fighting on her breaks. (We were in Gotham City, for goodness’ sake.) Other than a few leftovers from the Death Star, I didn’t see any super villains, so I suppose her work speaks for itself.

Note to future Strata + HW planners: Maybe skip the DJ in the foyer next time. Loud. Really loud. Like just-entered-the-club loud.

Orange is the new teal. Yep, if you’re a Big Data player, there’s a decent chance you’re orange. Just for kicks #2, here’s the unscientific list of orange-branded exhibitors: Alation, BMC, Cask, ClearStory, DataFactZ, DataSift, DataStreams, Interana, Kyvos Insights, Rapid Miner, SAS, Splice Machine, Tableau, Teradata, ThoughtSpot, Ubuntu, Unifi, WANdisco, and Wolfram. (The Data____s are catching up.)

Next year, I’m serving snacks. Multiple booths set up espresso booths. (Those were the ones with the really jumpy staff.) There was plenty of candy, and Arcadia Data even offered (on-brand!) blue sno-cones.