What is Big Data?

Published by Rodolphe Wilhelm, 14 Apr 2015

“Big Data” is a term that is thrown around among the growing high performance computing industry. As the phrase becomes increasingly popular, it becomes more and more important to identify and define just what this term refers to. In essence, the term refers to the tools and processes used to interpret and manage very large sets of data in real time. This is a fairly recent development that has seen increased growth and usage. This new way of handling data comes at a contrast to the previously rigid and traditional ways of managing data. This previous method is quickly being outclassed by Big Data, which, again, is just a general term used to describe all the news methods of understanding and interpreting immeasurably large amounts of data. Common examples are websites like YouTube, where 72 hours of video is uploaded every second. There is no time to attempt to file and organize all this data before it needs to be transmitted and reproduced.

A commonly cited scenario of how big data can be more useful than traditional data is a scenario with three cargo trucks. These three cargo trucks are each in the process of picking up and delivering packages. Three trucks doesn’t sound like a lot of data, and while it might not be on the same scale as 72 hours of video every second, there is a variety of different sets that each need to be accounted for. These include, but aren’t limited to, truck GPS data, real-time traffic information, geographic data, the RFID on each package. Trying to calculate and adjust for all these values by hand would be maddening. So, taking all this into account, you are then given an address where a package needs to be picked up. Truck A is 3 miles away, Truck B is 7 miles away, and Truck C is 15 miles away. This is how traditional computing would interpret the situation. Seeing only this data would lead the controller to believe that Truck A would be the most optimal truck to pick up the package as it is the closest. However, there are countless other factors which may not be fully accounted for. Perhaps Truck A is bumper to bumper in Traffic, or perhaps is doesn’t have enough cargo space to hold the supposed package. Any plethora of these issues could arise and what Big Data does is help you identify them and realize that it would in fact be more efficient to send Truck B.

Large organizations more and more are encountering the need for Big Data solutions to help manage and interpret huge amounts of data like email inboxes, call information, and all kinds of electronic communication for huge amounts of people. Big Data is likely to have a more important role in the Tech sector as time goes on, so it’s best that one familiarize themselves with the term and its implications as it gains more and more influence and use in the business world.

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