Big People in Big Data: How Numbers Propelled them to Success (Or Notoriety)

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Big Data Is Changing the World, and these People Helped Make Big Data

When it comes to technology, there’s usually a dozen buzzwords at any one time of which you need to be aware. Internet of Things, machine learning, AI, VR, AR . . . the list has hardly gotten smaller with time. But one of the most fascinating, cutting-edge developments in the online space is Big Data. Giving rise to an entire industry, Big Data is the reason that analytics, data scientists, and a whole slew of other related industries have taken on the prominent role that they now fill. And we have Big Data people to thank for the prominence this concept now plays in business and our psyches.

Terabytes upon terabytes upon terabytes of data are created daily across the world, and within that data, millions of stories or insights are waiting to be discovered. That’s the TL;DR version of the origin of Big Data, and sums up why people are so excited about Big Data in the first place. Big Data is the future, and while there are varying degrees of enthusiasm surrounding the technological development, as job numbers continue to show, Big Data isn’t going anywhere.

So with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest names in Big Data. Some of them you may recognize and others may be complete strangers to you, but these are some of the biggest names in Big Data that you should know.

The Creators of Hadoop: Doug Cutting and Mike Cafarella

In one of the more touching origin stories around, the open-sourced data management program Hadoop was named after Cutting’s son’s toy elephant. But from humble beginnings came one of the most widely used software frameworks for sorting through data and helping you make sense of all the information you come across.

Cutting is a well-respected computer engineer who has spent time working at some of the largest companies in the world, including Apple and Yahoo!. A graduate of Stanford University, he now works at Cloudera as chief architect and can’t seem to get away from Big Data . . . though he probably wouldn’t want to, considering how successful Hadoop has been in the market. Of course, the framework is open-source, but its popularity speaks to Cutting’s cache as a giant among the Big Data movement. You can read more about Cutting and Hadoop HERE.

Cafarella is a current assistant professor at the University of Michigan and holds a PhD from Brown University. The lesser known of the two creators, Cafarella and Cutting first started working on the framework when the Google File System report was released, leading the pair to seek out a way to contain all the data that would inevitably flood the internet, and continues to do so to this day.

And that brings us to our next pair of intrepid creators . . .

Google: Sergey Brin and Larry Page

The two Stanford PhD students who would go on to radically redefine our world (sometimes literally), Sergey Bring and Larry Page are two of the most important figures in Big Data’s history and its future.

Sergey Bring is also noted for his interesting background, having been born in the Soviet Union and coming to the U.S. when he was a young boy. Goes to show that, much like the elephant toy-named Hadoop, humble beginnings can often lead to great successes.

What began as a research project by the pair in 1996 quickly developed into what has now become near synonymous with internet searches. There are very few ways to lose friends faster than claiming you’re a Bing user (sorry Bing users).

Google was not the first search engine but with dominant market shares pretty much across the globe (except for places where it is banned, like China), Google has become an international force to be reckoned with and has had a profound effect on Big Data.

Google’s premise is, after all, to help you make sense of the endless amounts of information that is available on the web. With that in mind, being able to parse through sometimes billions of site returns on a search and delivering the most relevant pages to you is not an easy task, and yet it is one that Google fulfills time and again, day after day, moment after moment.

The fact is that without search engines and the ability scour the internet for relevant information, and Big Data would be a confusing mess instead of a developmental breakthrough. Google’s place in internet history and culture cannot be understated, but don’t forget the knock-on effect that Google and its pair of founders have had on developing ideas like Big Data.

Jamie Miller: Big Data experts from beyond the field

Jamie Miller is a senior vice president at GE and president and CEO of GE Transportation, where she oversees $5.9 billion in annual revenue and more than 10,000 employees globally. But most interesting to us was her stint as chief information officer at GE for two-and-a-half years because, unlike most CIOs, her background was not in tech.

Having graduated from Miami University with a degree in accounting, her journey was an unlikely one from finance into the head of technology management at one of the biggest companies in the world.

Miller expressed in an interview with Forbes her views on data and how she ended up making her way forward on the technology side of things despite her background in finance.

Miller goes to show that the people involved in the spread of Big Data are hardly all coders, often coming from many different walks of life, unified by the revolutionary potential of Big Data.

And Miller is special for another reason: Tech industries have often been considered unwelcoming to women, and Miller currently sits in one of the top roles in the world in tech. She also serves on the board of Girls Who Code, trying to rectify these gendered attitudes.

About the Author

Sean Westbrook is a content specialist for an IT Disaster Recovery Firm. Sean is a dreamer, idea generator and teller of stories. Sean is also a Basketball fan, traveller, and vintage furniture lover.


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