As companies collect more data on how consumers interact with their businesses, the Hadoop open source storage system is emerging as a key technology for breaking up large chunks of data into smaller pieces, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Companies use Hadoop to manage data businesses generate through websites, email systems and other digital technologies.

Recent funding in Hadoop vendors underscores how venture capitalists see big bucks in managing Big Data. Last month, Hadoop providers Cloudera Inc., Hortonworks Inc. and Platfora Inc. received a collective $1 billion from investors convinced that they are onto something big.

But what is Hadoop and how do companies use it to manage data? Tom Davenport, a professor of IT and management, at Babson College, said Hadoop is a storage system that ingests large amounts of data from servers and breaks it into manageable chunks. Programmers structure the data, move it into a relational database, and study it with an analytical application.

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