Click here to monitor SSC
SQLServerCentral is supported by Red Gate Software Ltd.
Log in  ::  Register  ::  Not logged in

What is Big Data?

By Steve Jones,

This industry is full of some very smart people. We tend to get some very strong opinions, and some rather snarky comments at times about the way the technologies that we use are presented. Karen Lopez (@datachick | blog) recently made headlines with her comments on big data.

"What the heck kind of definition is that?" she asked when looking at the Wikipedia definition of Big Data. If "big data" is data that is "awkward to work with" then I know lots of people that have had to deal with big data anytime they had to work with outer joins.

While I'm not sure big data is well defined, I do know that there are large data sets which can overwhelm relational databases, both in scale and the speed at which the data is collected. Microsoft added StreamInsight to SQL Server to help deal with the speed problem, but I'm not sure that relational databases can handle the size issues at the same time. Some large computing and analysis problems don't lend themselves well to relational soluttions and other technologies are needed.

I do agree with Karen that big data, whatever that means to you, is not really in conflict with relational databases like SQL Server. There are lots of data sets that work well inside of a relational database, especially when you have built a solid data model and referential integrity. Many problems with relational databases come about because of poor code added to the platform, not a problem with relational platforms in general.

Relational database systems are not "obsolete", despite what some vendors of other databases think. I have complete confidence that SQL Server as a relational platform will be used for years to come.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcasts

We publish three versions of the podcast each day for you to enjoy.

Everyday Jones

The podcast feeds are available at Comments are definitely appreciated and wanted, and you can get feeds from there. Overall RSS Feed: or now on iTunes!

Today's podcast features music by Everyday Jones. No relation, but I stumbled on to them and really like the music. Support this great duo at

You can also follow Steve Jones on Twitter:

Total article views: 580 | Views in the last 30 days: 5
Related Articles

Podcast Problem

Podcast Problem Blocked by group policy


Podcast Announcements

Podcast Feeds



A new video setup is on the way!!!! Actually I'll do a couple podcasts on podcasting over the hol...


corrupted relations in database

corrupted relations in database



I'm working on getting a small studio set up for some podcasting of the editorials. That means I put...


Join the most active online SQL Server Community

SQL knowledge, delivered daily, free:

Email address:  

You make SSC a better place

As a member of SQLServerCentral, you get free access to loads of fresh content: thousands of articles and SQL scripts, a library of free eBooks, a weekly database news roundup, a great Q & A platform… And it’s our huge, buzzing community of SQL Server Professionals that makes it such a success.

Join us!

Steve Jones

Already a member? Jump in:

Email address:   Password:   Remember me: Forgotten your password?
Steve Jones