Big Data provides information that has quickly become an indispensable part of how our businesses and organizations operate.
Underpinning this system of information is a data infrastructure: the data itself, the organizations that collect this data and the storage systems that hold the data. Just as our physical world relies on an efficient public infrastructure in order to make travel more efficient, the digital world relies on infrastructure to ease the passage of information and ensure its availability when it is needed.
In order to utilize the power of data, we must believe that it is accurate and comes from a trustworthy source. Without data integrity, our data is effectively useless. An established, sustainable data infrastructure from organizations that exercise sound oversight and safety precautions is what gives us the confidence that data integrity exists. Institutions with good infrastructure hold and ensure the trustworthiness of Big Data and provide crucial guidance on how information can be accessed and used.
When this infrastructure is in place, everyone benefits. We are able to access open information quickly and effectively and use it to inform our decisions.
When it is not in place, by contrast, organizations suffer. Take, for example, issues with the U.S. healthcare industry. Crucial to providing appropriate care for patients is full information on previous conditions and procedures that the patient may have had performed.
When a patient is limited to a single hospital or medical facility over a long period of time, data sharing is less of an issue, but what if this patient travels or sees a doctor he or she has not seen before? Medical providers require IT interoperability and data access to do their jobs. Data infrastructure is what guarantees that these other parties will have the information they need to make a proper diagnosis.
One infrastructure solution that is getting a lot of traction is a cloud-based storage using systems like Hadoop. Before the development of cloud computing, companies interested in accessing and utilizing Big Data were required to have all of the information on hand locally, involving data centers, software and staff who could understand everything. In addition to requiring a tremendous amount of local storage space, this set-up was also quite expensive. Cloud-based data infrastructures, however, ease the burden on companies by moving storage to a distant, secure location accessed through the internet.
Storing information in the cloud facilitates both data collection and analysis for companies with operations across multiple areas. Internet data infrastructure ensures that, regardless of geographic location, everyone in an organization can store and access up-to-date information at precisely the moment it is needed.
Any visualizations created or insights gleaned from centrally-located information are similarly shared in a cloud-based data infrastructure. Healthcare IT would benefit greatly from such a system, particularly if it were made available across the spectrum of care.
Considering the almost universal importance of Big Data in our society and culture today, a healthy, maintained and easily accessible data infrastructure becomes crucial to the operation of our businesses and public organizations. Big Data infrastructure facilitates open sharing and easy access to current, useful information, allowing each researcher or analyst who uses it full trust in its reliability.