What Is Big Data? Get to Know the Three (or More) V’s

by Eileen Ristau Tauchman | May 08, 2019
A laptop, several screens, a smartphone and a tablet all showing different big data programs

Technology has its own language with a constant influx of new terms – net neutrality, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, big data. Let’s focus on that last one – what is big data? Is this phrase here to stay, or is it just a quick trend? Well, we are here to break down big data and everything you need to know about it as an IT pro.

What Is Big Data?

Big data is defined as an extremely large data set that businesses must deal with on a day-to-day basis. A business may analyze its big data to track patterns and trends, and ultimately the data should be used to make stronger, more strategic business decisions. Big data is in fact, called big data because it is a data set so large that your standard analytical software cannot handle it.

Big Data Basics

Even though the term big data is relatively new, the concepts behind it have been practiced for many years.

Many IT pros know the backbone of big data as the three V’s:

  1. Volume: This refers to the large amount of data involved in big data. Businesses are constantly collecting data from many different outlets like social media, website lead captures, emails, ecommerce and more. It’s easier than ever to collect and keep track of this data in today’s day and age.
  2. Velocity: The data outlets mentioned above don’t just wait their turn in a line to be processed. The data comes in at lightning speed and needs to be processed just as quickly.
  3. Variety: This refers to all the different types of data available. Data can be either structured or unstructured. Structured data is digestible by existing formulas or algorithms while unstructured data does not follow a data model and is not systematic.

Some will argue that there are additional V’s to consider, including veracity, validity and value, but understanding the original three will give you a solid foundation to get started.

Where Is Big Data Used?

Organizations use big data in any number of ways, from predictive analytics to personalized and targeted marketing. Here are just a few ways the IT department uses big data:

  • Cybersecurity: Big data helps cybersecurity teams detect breaches before they happen. The data needs to be managed and analyzed efficiently in order for it to be effective, but a survey by the Ponemon Institute found that 72 percent of cybersecurity pros rely on big data analytics when detecting cyberthreats.
  • Asset Management: With more databases, more servers, more applications and increased storage needs, the IT department needs an efficient way to manage digital sprawl. That’s where big data and configuration management database (CMD) come in. Properly analyzing all the data these assets generate help to identify areas of improvement.
  • Troubleshooting Virtual Environments: Using big data with machine learning can help IT pros troubleshoot applications and get things working properly much faster.

Why Is Big Data Important?

Big data is not important because of its size, but because there are so many different things you can do with it. Similar to how you water and fertilize a flower garden, if you tend to your big data in the same manner, it can be used to your advantage to make your business thrive.

Do you like big data? Learn more about working with big data as a data scientist.


  • Pedro Garza

    Friday, May 10, 2019

    This article closes relates to a topic near and dear to me, Data Loss Prevention! Good read indeed.

  • Sosaiete

    Friday, May 10, 2019

    Good readings

  • abisola david-aina

    Friday, June 14, 2019

    how much is the cost of big data certification?


    Saturday, June 15, 2019

    Interesting reading


    Saturday, June 15, 2019

    A lovely read. Its really unique that a cyber security expert has build his skills in other areas of I.T. in order to facilitate his job responsibilities effeciently. WOULD BE COOL IF THERE WAS A LIKE BUTTON ON THIS PAGE.

  • Monday, June 17, 2019

    Hi, Abisola! Thanks for your question. We do not currently offer a big data certification, but it's something we're exploring. Stay tuned!

  • Aldred

    Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    As a student of Networking Technology. I would like to know and learn more about this big data how to get involved

  • Javier Charles

    Tuesday, July 2, 2019

    Very good intro into Big Data my interest in this field has indeed grown.

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