What is Big Data?

What is big data? We hear this term tossed around the media a lot. Big data is something big and scary. Google and Facebook are gobbling up everyone’s data and turning it into big data. No one really takes the time to explain what it is. Big data isn’t hard to understand nor is it scary. So, again, what is big data?

Big data is a large data set. That’s all it is. It’s a lot of data amassed into one place.

Big data is typically a large data set that’s much larger than a typical data set. A company may have structured databases with a few hundred thousand or a million entries. This data is typically nice and organized. Big data will have millions upon millions of entries from a lot of different sources.

You can start to see where and how this would be different. Because big data contains so much data, it’s next to impossible keep it organized. That’s why big data tends to be poured in data lakes. Data lakes are just another new term like big data, and it’s not much different that an old fashioned data warehouse, except much bigger and more unorganized.

The biggest challenges of big data include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying and information privacy.

New information systems, like Hadoop, have been made to help capture, curate, and search through data. Hadoop takes this massive amount of data and organizes it and creates data-on-demand. Data isn’t actually turned into anything usable until it’s needed. Once it’s needed, systems like Hadoop make it usable.

Big data has done something wonderful. Because of how unorganized and chaotic the data is, and the sheer amount of it, we’ve had to create a lot of new technologies to handle it. I already mentioned Hadoop. There’s a lot of other systems designed to makes sense of all this data. BI systems have flourished with big data. In fact, BI systems are now a common component of the business. They bring together this unorganized data, help decide what’s relevant and what’s not, and display it in ways that make sense.

Big data itself is nothing complicated or scary. The systems that utilize big data can be intricate but can also save businesses millions of dollars. I hope this help explains what big data is. The next time you hear it on the news you’ll be able to understand the real implications of it.

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