British Gas ‘reaping the benefits’ of early Hadoop adoption

Companies that have been quick to adopt advanced big data technologies such as Hadoop are beginning to enjoy strong results from their deployments as the tools mature and understanding grows.

This is according to Computing magazine, which highlighted British Gas as one organisation that has reported a great deal of success from the solution. Speaking at the recent Hadoop Summit in Brussels, head of big data solutions at the enterprise Dee Mitra detailed some of the ways in which the technology is helping the company.

She explained that the utilities provider was initially attracted to Hadoop because of its open-source nature, ability to scale up and the promise of lower costs in the long run.

At the same time, the industry was undergoing a revolution in how it gathered and managed data, driven by developments such as smart meters. Ms Mitra noted British Gas has installed 1.3 million of these in its customers’ homes, which allow it to monitor energy consumption in real-time.

When the company moved to adopt Hadoop 18 months ago, the tool was not regarded in some quarters as the best solution for managing this type of data. This was mainly due to the perception that it was only good for less structured data than British Gas would be dealing with.

However, Ms Mitra said the company “stuck to the path” and has begun to reap clear benefits from the technology, although there were initial teething troubles as the low level of maturity meant the company had to develop its own solutions to deal with enterprise readiness problems.

“It gives me pleasure to see the pace of change going on, not only in Hadoop but in the whole ecosystem,” she continued. “It seems like everybody is really pulling together towards a common goal, and those problems that we had to engineer solutions to – they are gone now.”

She explained that after consolidating the company’s legacy data platforms into Hadoop, ensuring that everything is available in one place, British Gas is now able to look at monetising the information it has collected over the last 18 months.

“We are using data not only for our customers’ benefit but also for our own so we can sell better services to our customers and partners and optimise our engineering works,” Ms Mitra said, adding: “From a wider adoption perspective, now is the time to adopt [Hadoop].”

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