Big Data Demystified – A quick overview
The term “Big Data” has become a new IT buzzword. So, what is Big Data and how is it going to impact your life? Here is Big Data demystified:
What is Big Data?
Big data refers to a large volume of data that inundates a business on a daily basis. However, the amount of data is not what is important, but rather what businesses do with the data. Big data can take up a lot of space in different formats such as pictures, videos and text. A perfect example is websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Each of these sites has huge volumes of data that grows daily which cannot be managed using traditional software systems.
Specifically, Big Data relates to data generation, storage, analysis and retrieval that is remarkable in terms of velocity, volume and variety.
For example, advert impressions and click streams at Google capture user behavior at millions of events per second resulting in machine to machine data exchanges between billions of devices.
During the 2000s, a typical PC had 10 gigabytes of storage. Fast-forward to 2017, social platforms such as Facebook ingests more than 500 terabytes of new data daily while a Boeing 737 churns up 240 terabytes of flight data on a typical flight.
Big Data is not limited to strings, numbers and dates. Instead, it also includes geospatial data, video, 3D data and unstructured text including social media and log files. Conventional database systems were designed to deal with smaller volumes of data that is both predictable as well as a consistent in structure. In addition, traditional database systems were designed to run on a single server which limits their capacity.
As applications evolved to become more agile and serve large volumes of users, the conventional use of the relational database became a liability for many businesses. To solve these problems, Big Data emerged to provide companies with the means to create value for businesses by helping them to identify patterns and make future predictions.
Kinds of Big Data
Big Data include video archives, search indexes, social networks, images and research data generated by R&D centers. It also consists of surveillance data gathered from satellites, medical records and data generated from fields such as genomics and astronomy. Such data cannot be stored conventionally which calls for accumulation of digital data.
Big Data Technologies
Basically, there are 2 types of Big Data technologies: systems that provide analytical capabilities for retrospective or complex analysis and systems that provide operational capabilities for real-time, interactive workloads.
Analytical and operational workloads for Big Data present opposing requirements and result in separate systems that address specific demands. Each of these systems drives the creation of new technology architectures. Analytical systems usually focus on high throughput while operational systems such as NoSQL databases focus on serving highly concurrent requests while exhibiting low latency for responses.
How Big Data is used
Big Data is likely to affect every aspect of your life. However, there are certain fields where this technology is already making a difference today. These areas include:
Optimizing device performance
Big Data analytics help devices and machines become smarter and gain more autonomy. A perfect example of how this technology is making machines or devices become smarter is Google’s self-driving car. The Toyota Prius is fitted with GPS, cameras and powerful computers as well as sensors to help in maneuvering the car safely on the road without human intervention.
Understanding and targeting customers
This is one of the most popular uses of Big Data today. The technology is used to understand customer behavior and preferences better. This information helps businesses to expand their traditional data sets using browser logs, social media data and text analytics to get a complete picture of their customers.
The computing power of Big Data enable people in the healthcare industry to quickly decode DNA strings, find new cures, understand and predict disease patterns. To help you understand how this is possible using this technology, consider what is likely to happen when data from wearable devices and smartwatches is collected and applied to millions of people and the various ailments they suffer from. In future, clinical trials will not be limited to few participants, rather there is the potential of including everyone.
Today, Big Data is already in use to monitor premature and sick babies. By recording and analyzing their breathing and heartbeat patterns, it is now possible to develop algorithms to predict infections 24 hours before the onset of physical symptoms and respond proactively.