We all know what data is. Those computer classes you attended at school must have made it more than clear. But the new buzzword is “Big” data. This name is a bit misleading.
Big data is of gigantic, unimaginable proportions. And it is constantly evolving on a real-time basis. It is enormous and complex. It is impossible to avoid generating data, no matter what your activity.
All individuals and organizations generate massive amounts of data repeatedly. The upside is that many of the most profitable business models in the world today are based on taming this beast called “Big” data.
Think Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The downside is the struggle to keep up with and make sense of the evolving data. After all, there is no point collecting and hoarding data madly if you cannot integrate the varied information streams to get logical conclusions, spot hitherto unseen trends and plan out a way forward. This is where big data architecture comes in.
In simple terms, big data architecture is the skeleton onto which the big data can be arranged, processed and analyzed. Big data architecture is ideally designed to accommodate the data analysis requirements which cannot be fulfilled by traditional database management systems.
Whether or not you or your organization requires a big data architecture depends on how much data you or your users generate, how quickly you need to stay on top of emerging trends, and how massive are the datasets you need to store. It also depends on how much work you can offload onto a machine.
What does a big data architect do?
A big data architect studies the organization and meets with clients to understand their data expectations. He not only creates big data architecture from scratch. He also leverages existing resources and makes connections to create a more reliable big data framework.
The big data architecture he ultimately creates should not only be able to collect process and store massive amounts of data logically. It must also provide solutions when a certain set of instructions are provided.
A well designed big data architecture goes a long way in assisting in decision making by providing crucial information to the right people at the right time.
Why should you care?
Today, anyone who is anyone has an online presence. You simply cannot compete in the marketplace without a website, an app, a blog. All of these involve huge data circulation.
In addition, the evolution of mobile technologies as one of the fastest growing ways of accessing the internet, and the proliferation of smart devices too has contributed to this data tsunami.
All this has resulted in Big Data explosion in the past few years. And it shows no sign of slowing down. As other tech jobs become redundant due to dynamic and fast-evolving technologies, this is the one job profile which promises exponential growth.
As per a report by IBM, more than seventy percent of the businesses currently existing will require big data specialists by the year 2020. Also, demand is far outstripping supply.
This naturally comes with more bargaining power in the hands of big data specialists, which translates to higher than average salary packages. Already the earning capacity varies from $90,000+ for freshers to more than $200,000 for experienced workers. Big data architects shall be the cutting edge professionals of the near future.
Technical skills required
As a big data architect, you will be the bridge that connects the business side of the operation to the technical side. So, you should have an open and alert mind to process the unique features of both sectors and create an organization-specific data architecture model. The following skills are invaluable:
– You should be able to understand the different sources from which data is generated, its quality and credibility and how to put it together into an IT infrastructure.
Some of this data may be totally unrelated. It will be up to you to identify connections between these sources and how they together give a larger picture of a situation. You must also be able to communicate the structural logic to your clients.
– A solid base in programming languages such as Python, Java, PHP, Kafka, Spark, Hive, CSS, HTML5, Redis Cloudera, Elastic and Linux is a must.
– Apache Hadoop is a non-negotiable if you want to survive in this field. This open source software already dominates other alternatives and it is predicted that it will hold the monopoly position in the near future. The industry around Hadoop will be worth more than $1 billion by the year 2020 as per IBM.
– You should have your hand on the pulse of the latest technologies such as Flume, MongoDB, Pig, Cassandra, HBase, oozie, MapReduce and NoSQL.
– Cloud computing
– Database skills such as data analysis and decision making, relational database management, data visualization and migration, data mining, and data warehousing.
– Bonus if you have advanced mathematical and statistical knowledge and marketing skills.
Phew! That sounds like too much, doesn’t it? But becoming a data architect is well worth the effort, believe me! Big data architects are some of the most demanded IT professionals in the United States alone, and this need has spread to not only other western countries but also developing economies.
Some of the best-known names in the tech field eagerly employ big data architects. The crème de la crème are:
- Bank of America
- Tata Consultancy Services
- JP Morgan
Getting started with Big Data Architect
Raring to go? Here’s how to get a head start! Check out these online courses. Whether you are a complete beginner, or someone looking to add to their skill set, you will definitely find something.
- Cloudera – CCP Spark and Hadoop developer certification.
- IBM – Big Data University
- Hortonworks – Hortonworks data platform and the Hadoop system
- Simplilearn – Big Data course catalog
- Coursera – Big data courses
While most of the about courses are not for free and require considerable financial resources, they are well worth the investment. Their certifications are credible, they have good industry standing and backing, and are accepted worldwide.
MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) such as Coursera, EdX, Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, Udacity and CodeAcademy among others also offer non-certified free courses. If you want to explore whether this field is for you, you should opt for these free courses first.
Big data architecture is one of the few jobs which have no scope of being replaced by automation in the future. At the same time, the growth rate is phenomenal. If you want a job that is exciting, challenging and financially rewarding, this is for you.