Many universities have harnessed Big Data over the past year.

Managing Big Data can be a big headache.

The amount of information people can access online is constantly growing. In fact, with every day that passes another 2.5 quintillion bytes of online information is created. This data can be used to find patterns in student learning, help quickly diagnose patients and track consumer trends.

But it’s hard to make sense of all of this information without a way to store and analyze it. Researchers in the University of California system are hoping they can help with their new software called AsterixDB.

The platform was created by UCI professors Michael J. Carey and Chen Li, UCI project scientist Vinayak Borkar and University of California, Riverside, professor Vassilis J. Tsotras. “We’re providing a next-generation platform for storing, managing, coordinating and making use of Big Data,” Carey said in an announcement.

Carey called the immense amount of information generated through blogs, tweets, and online transactions “digital exhaust.” It’s far too much to take in at once and needs to be filtered.

The goal for AsterixDB is to be that filter, targeting what the team calls semi-structured information and storing it.

By using large, “shared-nothing” computing clusters – a system where each computer node is self-sufficient and not relying on one other – AsterixDB can better process the large volume of data.

See Page 2 for details for what else Big Data can accomplish. 

The platform will also be open-source, Carey said.

“Users can do whatever they want with it, and we can learn from what they do and further improve our platform based on their needs,” he said.

AsterixDB is not the only entity trying to get a better handle on Big Data. IBM continues to experiment with its Watson super computer, which famously won Jeopardy in 2011.

Earlier this year, Columbia Basin College in Washington began trying to harness online data to improve student achievement and retention. Last month, the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, unveiled a new analytics center where students can “stand inside” 3D representations of Big Data.

The team behind AsterixDB  said they see a greater calling for Big Data than just improving student outcomes, anticipating consumer behavior and winning TV game shows. It could help predict disease outbreaks, combat fraud, and sequence DNA.

“Big Data crosses a lot of domains, from government to health care to business,” Carey said. “It’s hard for us to imagine an area where AsterixDB can’t contribute.”

Add your opinion to the discussion.