A new buzzword that has been capturing the attention of businesses lately is big data. The term refers to such massively large data sets that conventional database tools do not have the processing power to analyze them. For example, Walmart must process over one million customer transactions every hour. Storing and analyzing that much data is beyond the power of traditional database-management tools. Understanding the best tools and techniques to manage and analyze these large data sets is a problem that governments and businesses alike are trying to solve.
Sidebar: What Is Metadata?
The term metadata can be understood as “data about data.” For example, when looking at one of the values of Year of Birth in the Students table, the data itself may be “1992″. The metadata about that value would be the field name Year of Birth, the time it was last updated, and the data type (integer). Another example of metadata could be for an MP3 music file, like the one shown in the image below; information such as the length of the song, the artist, the album, the file size, and even the album cover art, are classified as metadata. When a database is being designed, a “data dictionary” is created to hold the metadata, defining the fields and structure of the database.