The business world is abuzz with talk of “big data”, but many people probably still do not have a firm grasp on what it means and how it will impact the IT world. If you manage servers for a living, there is a good chance that you will soon encounter an employer or client who wants to know if you can handle big data.
What is Big Data?
Unlike some other IT words that tend to be obscure (Yes, I am looking at you Mr. Cloud), big data is aptly named. If you have a small website with a small to medium-size database, you could refer to it as “small data”. Big data, on the other hand, deals with extremely large databases or in many cases, just large storage platforms filled with unstructured data. The data does not have a single purpose or any type of uniform method of access.
So, how does a business end up with so much unstructured data? It might happen more quickly than you realize. Think about financial records, emails, reports, social media updates, and all types of other information that is constantly being sent, received, and stored. All of those pieces of data contain information, some of it useful, some of it not so useful. The challenge is finding a way to access it and extract any useful information it might contain.
In part two, we will look at the role of big data in making that happen.