Big Data Tutorial For Beginners | What Is Big Data?

This Tutorial Explains all about Big Data Basics. Tutorial Includes Benefits, Challenges, Technologies, and Tools along with Applications of Big Data:

In this digital world with technological advancements, we exchange large amounts of data daily like in Terabytes or Petabyte.

If we are exchanging that amount of data daily then we need to maintain it as well and store it somewhere. The solution to handle the large volumes of data with high velocity and different variety is Big Data.

It can handle complex data coming from multiple sources like different databases, websites, widgets, etc. Also, it can link and match the data coming from different sources. It indeed gives faster access to the data (For Example, social media).

Big Data Tutorial

List Of Tutorials In This Big Data Series

Tutorial #1: What Is Big Data? [This Tutorial]
Tutorial #2: What Is Hadoop? Apache Hadoop Tutorial For Beginners
Tutorial #3: Hadoop HDFS – Hadoop Distributed File System
Tutorial #4: Hadoop Architecture And HDFS Commands Guide
Tutorial #5: Hadoop MapReduce Tutorial With Examples | What Is MapReduce?
Tutorial #6: Apache Hadoop YARN Tutorial For Beginners | What Is YARN?
Tutorial #7: Comprehensive Hadoop Testing Tutorial | Big Data Testing Guide

What Is Big Data?

The word Huge is not enough to explain BigData, certain characteristics classify the data into BigData.

We have three main characteristics of BigData, and if any data satisfies these characteristics then it will be treated as BigData. It is the combination of the three V’s mentioned below:

  • Volume
  • Velocity
  • Variety

Three V's

Volume: The data should be of huge volume. Big Data has the solution to maintain a large amount of data which is in Terabyte or Petabyte. We can perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) operations on BigData easily and effectively.

Velocity: It is responsible for faster access to data. For Example, nowadays social media needs a fast exchange of data within a fraction of time and BigData is the best solution for it. Hence, velocity is another characteristic and it is the processing speed of data.

Variety: In social media, we are dealing with unstructured data like audio or video recordings, images, etc. Also, various sectors like the banking domain need structured and semi-structured data. BigData is the solution to maintain both types of data in one place.

Variety means different types of data like Structured / Unstructured Data coming from multiple sources.

Structured Data: The Data which has a proper structure or the one that can be easily stored in a tabular form in any Relational DataBases like Oracle, SQL Server or MySQL is known as Structured Data. We can process or analyze it easily and efficiently.

An example of Structured Data is the data stored in a Relational Database which can be managed using SQL (Structured Query Language). For Example, Employee Data (Name, ID, Designation, and Salary) can be stored in a tabular format.

In a traditional database, we can perform operations or process unstructured or semi-structured data only after it is formatted or fit into the relational database. Examples of Structured Data are ERP, CRM, etc.

Semi-Structured Data: Semi-Structured Data is the data that is not fully formatted. It is not stored in data tables or any database. But still, we can easily ready it and process it as this data contains Tags or comma-separated-values, etc. Example of semi-structured data is XML files, CSV files, etc.

Unstructured Data: Unstructured Data is the data that does not have any structure. It can be in any form, there is no pre-defined data model. We can’t store it in traditional databases. It is complex to search and process it.

Also, the volume of Unstructured Data is very high. Example of Unstructured Data is e-mail body, Audio, Video, Images, Achieved documents, etc.

Challenges Of Traditional Databases

Challenges of Traditional Databases

  • The Traditional database does not support a variety of data i.e. it is not able to handle Unstructured and Semi-structured data.
  • A Traditional database is slow while dealing with a large amount of data.
  • In Traditional databases, processing or analysis of a large amount of data is very difficult.
  • A Traditional database is capable of storing data that is in terabytes or petabytes.
  • A Traditional database cannot handle Historical Data and Reports.
  • After a certain amount of time data clean-up of the database is necessary.
  • The cost to maintain a large amount of data is very high with a traditional database.
  • Data accuracy is less in the traditional database as full historical data is not maintained in it.

Big Data Benefits Over Traditional Database

Benefits of Big Data over Traditional database

  • Big Data is responsible to handle, manage, and process different types of data like Structured, Semi-structured, and Unstructured.
  • It is cost-effective in terms of maintaining a large amount of data. It works on a distributed database system.
  • We can save large amounts of data for a long time using BigData techniques. So it is easy to handle historical data and generate accurate reports.
  • Data processing speed is very fast and thus social media is using Big Data techniques.
  • Data Accuracy is a big advantage of Big Data.
  • It allows users to make efficient decisions for their business based on current and historical data.
  • Error Handling, Version Control, and customer experience are very effective in BigData.

Suggested reading => Big Data vs Big Data Analytics vs Data Science

Challenges And Risks In BigData


  1. One of the major challenges in Big Data is to manage large amounts of data. Nowadays data comes to a system from various sources with variety. So it’s a very big challenge for the companies, to manage it properly. For Example, to generate a report which contains the last 20 years of data, it requires to save and maintain the last 20 years of data of a system. To provide an accurate report, it is necessary to put only the relevant data into the system. It should not contain irrelevant or unnecessary data, otherwise maintaining that amount of data will be a big challenge for the companies.
  2. Another challenge with this technology is the synchronization of various types of data. As we all know Big Data supports Structured, Unstructured and Semi-structured data coming from different sources, synchronizing it and getting the consistency of data is very difficult.
  3. The next challenge that companies are facing is the gap of experts who can help and implement the issues they are facing in the system. There is a big gap in talent in this field.
  4. Handling compliance aspect is expensive.
  5. Data collection, aggregation, storage, analysis and reporting of BigData has a huge cost. The organization should be able to manage all these costs.


  1. It can handle a variety of data but if companies cannot understand requirements properly and control the source of data then it will provide flawed results. As a result, it will need a lot of time and money to investigate and correct the results.
  2. Data security is another risk with the BigData. With a high volume of data, there are higher chances that someone will steal it. Data hackers may steal and sell important information (including historical data) of the company.
  3. Also, Data Privacy is another risk for BigData. If we want to secure the personal and sensitive data from hackers then it should be protected and must pass all the privacy policies.

Big Data Technologies

Following are the technologies that can be used to manage Big Data:

  1. Apache Hadoop
  2. Microsoft HDInsight
  3. No SQL
  4. Hive
  5. Sqoop
  6. BigData in Excel

A detailed description of these technologies will be covered in our upcoming tutorials.

Tools To Use Big Data Concepts

Enlisted below are the open-source tools that can help to use Big Data concepts:

#1) Apache Hadoop
Hadoop logo

#2) Lumify

#3) Apache Storm

#4) Apache Samoa

#5) Elasticsearch

#6) MongoDB

#7) HPCC System BigData
HPCC Systems

Applications of Big Data

Following are the domains where it is used:

  1. Banking
  2. Media and Entertainment
  3. Healthcare Providers
  4. Insurance
  5. Education
  6. Retail
  7. Manufacturing
  8. Government

BigData And Data Warehouse

Data Warehouse is a basic concept that we need to understand before discussing Hadoop or BigData Testing.

Let’s understand Data Warehouse from a real-time example. For example, there is a company that has established its branches in three different countries, let’s assume a branch in India, Australia & Japan.

In every branch, the entire customer data is stored in the Local Database. These local databases can be normal classical RDBMSs like Oracle or MySQL or SQL Server etc. and all the customer data will be stored in them daily.

Now, every quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis, the organization wants to analyze this data for business development. To do the same, the organization will collect all this data from multiple sources and then put it together in one place and this place is called “Data Warehouse”.

Data Warehouse is a kind of database that contains all the data pulled from multiple sources or multiple database types through the “ETL”  (which is the Extract, Transform and Load) process. Once the data is ready in the Data Warehouse, we can use it for analytical purposes.

So for analysis, we can generate reports from the data available in the Data Warehouse. Multiple charts and reports can be generated using Business Intelligence Tools.

We require Data Warehouse for analytical purposes to grow the business and make appropriate decisions for the organizations.

Organization Data WareHouse

Three things are happening in this process, first is we have pulled the data from multiple sources and put it on a single location that is Data Warehouse.

Here we use the “ETL” process,  thus while loading the data from multiple sources to one place, we will apply it in Transformation roots and then we can use various kinds of ETL tools here.

Once the data is ready into Data Warehouse, we can generate various reports to analyze the business data by using Business Intelligence (BI) Tools or we also call them Reporting Tools. The tools like Tableau or Cognos can be used for generating the Reports and DashBoards for analyzing the data for business.


Let’s understand what OLTP and what OLAP are?

Databases that are maintained locally and used for transactional purposes are called OLTP i.e. Online Transaction Processing. The day to day transactions will be stored here and updated immediately and that’s why we called them OLTP System.

Here we use Traditional Databases, we have multiple tables and there are relationships, thus everything is systematically planned as per the database. We are not using this data for analytical purposes. Here, we can use classical RDMBS databases like Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, etc.

When we come to the Data Warehouse part, we use Teradata or Hadoop Systems, which are also a kind of database but the data in a DataWarehouse is usually utilized for analytical purposes and is called OLAP or Online Analytical Processing.

Here, the data can be updated on a quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis. Sometimes the data is updated “Offerly” as well, where Offerly means the data is updated and fetched for analysis per customer requirements.

Also, the data for analysis is not updated daily because we will get the data from multiple sources, on a scheduled basis and we can perform this ETL task. This is how the Online Analytical Processing System works.

Here again, BI Tools or Reporting Tools can generate reports as well as Dashboards, and based on this the business people will make the decisions to improve their business.

Where does BigData come into the picture?

BigData is the data that is beyond the storage and processing capacity of conventional databases and it’s in the Structured and Unstructured format so it cannot be handled by local RDBMS systems.

This kind of data will be generated in TeraBytes (TB) or PetaBytes (PB) or beyond and it is rapidly increasing nowadays. There are multiple sources to get this kind of data such as Facebook, WhatsApp (which are related to Social Networking); Amazon, Flipkart related to E-Commerce; Gmail, Yahoo, Rediff related to Emails and Google and other search engines. We also get bigdata from mobiles like SMS Data, Call Recording, Call Logs, etc.


Big data is the solution to handle large amounts of data efficiently and securely. It is responsible to maintain historical data as well. There are many advantages of this technology which is why every company wants to switch to the Big data

Author: Vaishali Tarey, Technical Lead @ Syntel

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