Braving the big data maze

Everyone’s talking about big data – structured and unstructured information that can be pulled together and shared to help organisations gain better insights and make more informed business decisions, CIO Magazine reports.

From sharing research and course information to analysing online habits of hundreds of thousands of students, Big data techniques have the potential to transform the way the education sector processes and analyses information from many sources.

IT leaders – predominantly from the higher education and research sector – gathered in Sydney recently to discuss the challenges around making sense of large amounts of data across their organisations to improve insights and create better products and services. The event was sponsored by Amcom and EMC.

Attendees were at various stages of big data projects and agreed that collecting quantities of structured and sometimes unstructured data onto a single platform in one location for analysis is a key challenge.

The University of Western Sydney’s (UWS) director of IT services, Kerry Holling, says the university’s research profile has improved significantly in recent years and big data, in terms of volume and unstructured information, is on his mind.

“We are recording every lecture and making them available for students to replay in their own time,” he says. “That’s 100TB of data on an annual basis, which is a challenge for us in terms of managing the capacity.”

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