How Big Data Works: The basics

Big data is a term used to describe large and complex sets of data. This information is often quickly gathered from multiple sources, allowing for the discovery of useful patterns and insights.

What Is Big Data?

Big data describes the rapidly generated and transmitted large and complex data sets (which can be structured, semi-structured, or unstructured).

Three main characteristics define big data:

  1. Volume: The massive quantities of information being kept.
  2. Velocity: Processing and analyzing data streams at breakneck speeds is essential.
  3. Variety: information gathered from a variety of formats, including but not limited to numbers, text, video, images, audio, and text.

By using various technologies and moving around frequently, we are constantly adding to the data stored on our devices. This creates massive stockpiles of information that can be used by businesses for a variety of purposes.

Rephrase Since traditional data tools are unable to handle the complexity and volume of big data, a number of large-scale software platforms and architectural solutions have emerged to fill that void.


Big data platforms are designed to process large amounts of varied data quickly. Data scientists can use these tools to manipulate the data in ways that maximize its usefulness.

Rephrase The benefits of big data are manifold, and it’s important to examine each aspect carefully in order to reap its maximum potential. This is especially true when working with large datasets – which is what big data essentially amounts to.


The sheer quantity and variety of big data is staggering. Terms like “petabytes” and “zettabytes” are often used to describe datasets that are several orders of magnitude larger than those typically measured in megabytes, gigabytes, or terabytes.

Rephrase This infographic from Berkeley’s School of Information provides a visual comparison between the size gap between online and offline data. In terms of storage capacity, one zettabyte (ZB) is equivalent to 250 billion DVDs or the length of a seven-minute HD video.

Data production is on the rise, with 180 zettabytes expected to be created by 2025 according to Statista. This increase in data creation is a result of increased technology and innovation across all sectors.

Big data processing is essential for extracting useful insights from this type of information. Without the right storage and analysis solutions, it would be impossible to find any value in such a large dataset.

Rephrase Big data is characterized by its rapidity, with creation, analysis, and decision-making all taking place quickly. Some people may view this as akin to trying to drink water from a hose full of Niagara Falls.

Businesses and other organisations won’t benefit much from this knowledge if they can’t use it immediately. Real-time processing offers decision-makers a distinct advantage over their competitors.

While some big data can be processed in batches and remain relevant over time, the great majority is entering companies at breakneck speeds and requires immediate action in order to be effective. Sensor information from medical gadgets is one such example. The understandings attained by real-time health data processing could be very advantageous to users and physicians.


Big data cannot be cleanly put into a traditional model since 80 to 90 percent of it is unstructured. Everything from emails and movies to information from the scientific community or even the weather can be found in a big data stream.

Benefits of Big Data

Big data’s enormous scope can be scary, but it also offers a plethora of insightful data that professionals can explore. Large data sets can be mined for hidden patterns that provide insights that can be used to boost productivity and predict a company’s future.

A few key applications where big data excels are:

  • Cost optimization
  • Customer retention 
  • Decision making
  • Process automation 

When is Big Data Used?

Systems capable of processing the structural and semantic differences in big data are necessary because of the data’s inherent diversity, which makes it complex.

NoSQL databases are ideal for big data because they can store information in a way that is not bound to any particular schema. This gives you the leeway to integrate seemingly unrelated data sets for a more complete picture of what’s going on, what to do, and when to do it.

Data that is collected, processed, and analyzed as part of Big Data projects is typically separated into two categories: operational and analytical.

Data like inventory, customer information, and purchase history are all part of an operational system’s input, which is served in bulk by multiple servers.

When compared to their operational counterparts, analytical systems are more capable of handling complex data analysis and providing businesses with insights to aid in decision making. In order to maximize data collection and use, these systems will typically be integrated into preexisting processes and infrastructure.

Data is everywhere and comes in many different ways. Our phones, credit cards, software programmes, automobiles, records, websites, and the great majority of “things” in our environment can all communicate enormous amounts of data, and this data is incredibly valuable.

Big data analytics has a wide range of applications, including pattern identification, problem solving, understanding customers, and the resolution of complicated issues. The information is utilised for a range of things, such as business growth, understanding how customers make decisions, better research, more exact forecasts, and more targeted advertising.


  • E-commerce with a one-of-a-kind focus on the customer.
  • Simulation of the financial markets.
  • More accurate medical conclusions can be drawn from collected data.
  • Streaming media service suggestions.
  • Agricultural yield forecasting.
  • Examining commuter habits for ways to ease traffic in crowded cities.
  • Optimizing product placement in stores based on customers’ typical shopping behaviors.
  • Enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of sports teams.
  • Student, institutional, and regional recognition of ingrained educational practices.

Some sectors where the big data revolution is well under way are listed below.

The Use of Large Amounts of Data in Banking and Finance

In the banking and insurance industries, big data and predictive analytics are frequently utilised for tasks including identifying fraud, assessing risks, determining creditworthiness, boosting brokerage service rankings, and even integrating blockchain technology.

Other uses of big data by financial organisations include customer-specific financial choices and cybersecurity initiatives.

Big Data in Healthcare

Hospitals, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies gain from the use of big data solutions in the healthcare sector.

Thanks to the accessibility of vast amounts of patient
and population data, treatments are becoming more effective, more research is being conducted on diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, new drugs are being created, and important insights into patterns in population health are being gained.

If you’ve ever used a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or another service that makes recommendations based on your preferences, big data is at work there.

media consumption habits are examined in order to provide us with content that is more relevant to us. Customer comments on the visual appeal of various titles, colors, and other design components are also taken into account by Netflix.

Big Data in Agriculture 

Big data and automation are quickly improving the farming sector, enabling the engineering of seeds and remarkably accurate crop yield predictions.

Because information is now more plentiful than food in many countries due
to the data boom of the last two decades, researchers and scientists are using big data to fight hunger and malnutrition. The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative, which seeks to guarantee unrestricted access to global agricultural and nutrition data, is one organization working to ensure progress in the fight against world hunger.

In order to challenge established practices, big data analytics has penetrated virtually every industry in addition to the aforementioned fields. Big data has uses outside of the well-known industries it serves, such as business, e-commerce and retail, education, Internet of Things, and sports.

In-depth analysis
is needed to make sense of big data, and big data tools can help with this. The use of big data tools, which can monitor huge data sets and identify patterns across a network in almost real-time, results in a significant reduction in time, money, and energy consumption.

Here are a few examples of widely adopted big data tools in today’s businesses.

Apache Hadoop 

With the aid of the same set of tools, Apache Hadoop, an open-source big data framework, enables the distributed processing of sizable datasets in both academic and commercial contexts. Apache Hadoop can scale to thousands of computing servers and is compatible with the Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) architecture and Java 11 runtime.

Apache Spark 

An analytical engine for handling large datasets on common hardware or specialized clusters, Apache Spark is free and open-source. The software’s unified and scalable processing platform supports the execution of data engineering, data science, and machine learning operations written in Java, Python, R, Scala, or SQL.

Apache Storm

More than a million tuples per second can be processed by each node of Apache Storm, an open-source computing system that excels at processing distributed, unstructured data in real-time. Apache Storm not only works with any language, but also with a wide range of queueing and database technologies that are already in use.

MongoDB Atlas

For storing, querying, and analyzing enormous amounts of dispersed data, the MongoDB Atlas suite provides a multi-cloud database with a flexible and scalable schema. Along with advanced analytics and data lakes that are entirely managed by the business, the software supports data encryption and distribution across AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.

Apache Cassandra

An open-source database called Apache Cassandra is free to use and can manage data that is dispersed among many nodes and clouds. Due to its fault tolerance, scalability, and adaptability to different consistency levels, Apache Cassandra is able to store and manage large-scale structured or unstructured data sets.

History of Big Data

The use of stick tallies by prehistoric civilizations to keep track of food can be linked to the history of big data, which dates back much later. The major happenings that have occurred to get us to this time are briefly summarized in the history that follows.


  • One of the first instances of information overload was the 1880 census. The Hollerith Tabulating Machine allowed for a ten-year reduction in the time needed to tabulate census data to just over a year.


  • The German-Austrian engineer Fritz Pfleumer invented magnetic data storage on tape, which paves the way for the long-term storage of digital information in the twenty-first century.


  • The theoretical groundwork for the modern information infrastructure is developed by Claude Shannon.


  • Computer scientist Edgar F. Codd provides a “relational database,” which illustrates how data can be extracted from sizable databases without first knowing their layout or location. In the past, only experts or people with extensive computer knowledge could accomplish this.


  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP) systems are increasingly being used in the business world for the purpose of organizing and scheduling data.


  • It was Tim Berners-Lee who is widely acknowledged as the man behind the creation of the World Wide Web.


  • Doug Laney outlined what he called the “3 Vs of Data,” or the characteristics that would come to characterize big data, in a paper he presented. The phrase “software as a service” was first used in context that same year. .


  • Hadoop, a free and open-source framework designed to store massive amounts of data, was developed.


  • Hadoop is an open-source software framework developed for storing massive datasets.


  • Big data is fundamentally changing how businesses and other organizations run their operations, according to the paper “Big Data Computing: Creating Revolutionary Breakthroughs in Commerce, Science, and Society” written by a team of computer science researchers.


  • According to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, as much new data is generated every two days as was generated from the dawn of civilization through 2003.


  • An IBM study found that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, and that 90% of all data in the world was created in the last two years.


  • Companies are increasingly adopting cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
  • There are now an estimated 3.7 billion IoT-connected devices or things in use, each transmitting and receiving massive amounts of data every day.


  • The Obama administration published the “Federal Big Data Research and Strategic Development Plan” to encourage innovation. of big data software with clear advantages for society and the economy.


  • More than 95% of companies have some requirement for handling unstructured data.


  • The majority of businesses (59%) say they intend to implement advanced and predictive analytics.


  • By 2025, the world is expected to generate more than 180 zettabytes of data.