Big data: 5 major advantages of Hadoop

By now, you have probably heard of Apache Hadoop - the name is derived from a cute toy elephant but Hadoop is all but a soft toy. Hadoop is an open source project that offers a new way to store and process big data. The software framework is written in Java for distributed storage and distributed processing of very large data sets on computer clusters built from commodity hardware. (source)

While large Web 2.0 companies such as Google and Facebook use Hadoop to store and manage their huge data sets, Hadoop has also proven valuable for many other more traditional enterprises based on its five big advantages.

1. Scalable

Hadoop is a highly scalable storage platform, because it can store and distribute very large data sets across hundreds of inexpensive servers that operate in parallel. Unlike traditional relational database systems (RDBMS) that can't scale to process large amounts of data, Hadoop enables businesses to run applications on thousands of nodes involving thousands of terabytes of data.

2. Cost effective

Hadoop also offers a cost effective storage solution for businesses' exploding data sets. The problem with traditional relational database management systems is that it is extremely cost prohibitive to scale to such a degree in order to process such massive volumes of data. In an effort to reduce costs, many companies in the past would have had to down-sample data and classify it based on certain assumptions as to which data was the most valuable. The raw data would be deleted, as it would be too cost-prohibitive to keep. While this approach may have worked in the short term, this meant that when business priorities changed, the complete raw data set was not available, as it was too expensive to store. Hadoop, on the other hand, is designed as a scale-out architecture that can affordably store all of a company's data for later use. The cost savings are staggering: instead of costing thousands to tens of thousands of pounds per terabyte, Hadoop offers computing and storage capabilities for hundreds of pounds per terabyte.

3. Flexible

Hadoop enables businesses to easily access new data sources and tap into different types of data (both structured and unstructured) to generate value from that data. This means businesses can use Hadoop to derive valuable business insights from data sources such as social media, email conversations or clickstream data. In addition, Hadoop can be used for a wide variety of purposes, such as log processing, recommendation systems, data warehousing, market campaign analysis and fraud detection.

4. Fast

Hadoop's unique storage method is based on a distributed file system that basically 'maps' data wherever it is located on a cluster. The tools for data processing are often on the same servers where the data is located, resulting in much faster data processing. If you're dealing with large volumes of unstructured data, Hadoop is able to efficiently process terabytes of data in just minutes, and petabytes in hours.

5. Resilient to failure

A key advantage of using Hadoop is its fault tolerance. When data is sent to an individual node, that data is also replicated to other nodes in the cluster, which means that in the event of failure, there is another copy available for use.

The MapR distribution goes beyond that by eliminating the NameNode and replacing it with a distributed No NameNode architecture that provides true high availability. Our architecture provides protection from both single and multiple failures.

When it comes to handling large data sets in a safe and cost-effective manner, Hadoop has the advantage over relational database management systems, and its value for any size business will continue to increase as unstructured data continues to grow.

Michele Nemschoff is vice president of corporate marketing at MapR Technologies.

The Apache Software Foundation was founded in 1999 and provides support for the Apache Community of open-source software projects, which provide software products for the public good.

Apache is known for other open source software such as:

OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. You can download it for free here.

Geronimo is an open source server runtime that integrates the best open source projects to create Java/OSGi server runtimes that meet the needs of enterprise developers and system administrators. Its most popular distribution is a fully certified Java EE 6 application server runtime. Find out more here.

Tomcat is an open-source web server and servlet container developed by the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). Tomcat implements several Java EE specifications including Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages (JSP), Java EL, and WebSocket, and provides a "pure Java" HTTP web server environment for Java code to run in. Find out more here.