What is Big Data?

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Everyone is talking about Big Data and how it is slated to be the next big thing. However, a novice is likely to be intimidated by the sheer enormity of the buzz to dare ask, What is Big Data? So here is an honest and simple definition of Big Data.

Imagine if a survey of one hundred people, asked the question, How big does a house need to be to qualify as a big house? The answers would range from 1000 sq2 to possibly 50,000 sq2. So what qualifies a house as a big house? Maybe I would define a big house as one which is big enough to accommodate each member of my family with their own bedroom, in addition to a guest room. Sounds logical? If yes, then that’s how Big Data is defined.

Big Data is data which is too big to fit into the current data devices of an organization. For example, a startup with just a VM as their database, even 10 terabytes could be considered Big Data. For a big corporation, even Petabytes of data may not qualify as Big Data. The definition of Big Data depends on your current capacity.

There is more to Big Data than just size. Big Data can be used to derive intelligent insights and to create sustainable and competitive advantages for corporations. But first, why do enterprises need Big Data?

As an enterprise, you need Big Data technologies if your current analysis needs are constrained by one of the three V’s of data Volume, Variety and Velocity. For example, you would probably need Big Data Technologies if:

  • your dataset to be analyzed is too voluminous to be handled by your current data infrastructure
  • there are too many data sources from which you need to pull data or your data is in various formats
  • you need quicker insights and the velocity at which your data changes is too fast for your current systems to handle

A lot of enterprises are leveraging Big Data technologies to derive deeper insights from a continuously expanding set of data. Many of these insights are obtained real time at a fraction of the cost that enterprises would normally make had they gone the more traditional BI route. Watch this space for other stories concerning Big Data technologies.

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