For at least the past five years, technology companies and analysts have posited that "data is the new oil." This means data is the key resource that drives our information-centric economy. This is an apt analogy for one big reason: Data is an extremely valuable resource for companies, but just like oil, the issue is that someone must dig to find it.
Many companies and teams—especially when they are small—use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to both store data and analyze it. Once the company or team expands, they find that spreadsheets have limits when it comes to handling data. Even worse, when smaller companies and teams use spreadsheets to store data, as soon as those companies and teams expand their multitude of spreadsheets become pockets of data buried where people on parallel teams can't easily find or manipulate data they need to do their jobs.
Outgrowing spreadsheets and moving to the cloud
Evolving beyond simple spreadsheets for reporting to true interactive analytics requires two things:
- Identifying where all the data pockets are in an organization
- Consolidating related data into one common pool of knowledge
The consolidated, common pool of data is where the buzzword "Big Data" term becomes real. Using the oil analogy, think of Big Data as a sea of crude. It must be refined before it is of any use. But refining that sea of data into useful analytics for a company requires an easily searchable database; preferably in the cloud. For a company already used to structuring data in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, it's not too big of a jump to use the cloud-based database in Azure called "Cosmos."
Querying data in the cloud
Microsoft Azure Cosmos database enables data sets that are global in size to be searched and analyzed quickly. It doesn't sound impressive until you imagine trying to run an Excel query or formula on your laptop in a workbook with multiple sheets and several thousand rows. True story: A colleague who owns what he thought was a fanless ultrabook laptop ran such a large Excel query that he was started when his ultrabook's previously-unknown fan "started hissing like a cobra." When these extra-large data sets are queried in a cloud-based Cosmos database, the query is parceled across globally-distributed computing and storage resources running in tandem:
The reason why Azure Cosmos skills are in such high demand is because drilling down into all of that Big Data is a lot of work. To effectively use an Azure Cosmos database, companies hire data scientists: statistics majors with software programming and chart-making skills.
Typical paths to take and become an Azure Cosmos data scientist
If you have an aptitude for math and logic, then you are likely to enjoy working with sets of Big Data. Because the "planet-scale" datasets used in Azure Cosmos databases are complex and often used in global enterprises, it often attracts people with an interest in business and finance.
However, you should not expect to understand everything about Big Data just because you have a degree in math or business. For students wanting to pivot towards data science, universities in the U.S. now offer academic courses on Big Data. Those with either academic or job experience in software development and database administration, especially in the Microsoft ecosystem, will have a head start with Big Data and Azure Cosmos.
Where to get Azure Cosmos training
To meet the rising demand for Big Data and Azure Cosmos skills, there are numerous options to get free online training. The online training can range from simple academic lectures to managed learning modules. Depending on where you are in your training journey:
- Watch this video if you want the answer to the question "What is Big Data?" in less than ten minutes: https://youtu.be/7D1CQ_LOizA
- For introductory training on Big Data and manipulating it using Microsoft tools, see: https://mva.microsoft.com/en-US/training-courses/implementing-big-data-analysis-8311?l=gOOGH0Yy_4304984382
- If you're familiar with Big Data and want to get started with Azure Cosmos, then watch: https://youtu.be/4fRKzcU__jY
Matching qualified consultants
Because the Azure Cosmos database is designed for Big Data, small companies won't benefit from uploading all of their Excel files and corporate data into it. For mid-to-large companies who especially want to move into the cloud, Azure Cosmos is a viable option for consolidating those pools of data. At Amaxra, we have seen an uptick in requests from global enterprises to find consultants with experience querying and generating reports using Azure Cosmos databases.
Amaxra will do what we can to help Big Data wildcatters like you to strike oil. Do you have Azure Cosmos or related skills?
Feedback and comments are always welcome. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with me via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/patrick-viernes.