How to Find Big Data Learning Resources and Stay Knowledgeable

How to Find Big Data Learning Resources and Stay Knowledgeable

Staying up to date on the latest developments in big data technology is critical to deriving accurate insights. Here are some ways your team can find big data learning resources that will prepare them to tackle today's big data challenges.

This post was published on before the merger with Cloudera. Some links, resources, or references may no longer be valid.

As your business gathers more and more data, it becomes all the more important for your big data team to be trained, educated, and knowledgeable. After all, a properly trained team is essential for turning that data into actionable insights.

Fortunately, there are several tools and strategies that members of your big data team can take advantage of to broaden their knowledge and earn additional qualifications. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself and your team up to date on the latest learnings in the big data space, as well as some big data learning resources you can use to stay current.

Build a Foundation on Apache Hadoop Knowledge

At its core, the big data world revolves around Apache Hadoop as the foundation for data management. Hadoop is an open-source software package that acts as a backbone to big data operations, as well as a platform to enable the interoperability of applications that focus on functions such as analytics, governance, and security of data—to name a few. All of these run on highly available clusters of inexpensive, everyday hardware.

Hadoop systems allow you to store massive quantities of data for a very low cost (compared to a storage area network or traditional data warehouse) and to run multiple tasks concurrently. No matter the vendor of your big data platform, Hadoop is either a part of it, has informed it, or is running on top of it.

Naturally, when looking to stay current within the industry, refreshing your Hadoop knowledge is a good place to start. A comprehensive knowledge of the latest developments is a very valuable commodity these days. Demand for Hadoop talent is high among businesses and their customers, but supply is low.

Understanding how the entire ecosystem fits together—from the source of the data, to how it is computed, to how it is stored and then analyzed, protected, and archived—is key to knowing how to gain actionable insights. New techniques for these processes emerge all the time, especially in this predominantly open-source community, so continuously broadening your understanding is important. It’s also important that big data professionals develop a broad, end-to-end understanding of every piece of the Hadoop puzzle to know how to manage big data throughout its life cycle.

Consider Certifications

Traditionally, certifications—awards of merit received after completing a course on a specific niche within IT—have played a big role in technology. They help to measure your team members’ knowledge and skills again industry- and vendor-specific benchmarks, and the number of certifications out there continues to expand.

Certifications can be a fast track to having the right skill set on your team. Whether you’re hiring someone who already has certain certifications in order to round out the talent you already have, or you’re getting your current team members certified, these credentials increase the breadth and depth of your human resource pool. By marketing your business as one that invests in certifications, you’ll also be able to entice the right talent.

Utilize Other Big Data Learning Resources

There are several other big data learning resources that you and your staff can use to stay ahead of the quickly changing big data world. Here’s a list of some strategies you can follow to find them:

  • Read community blogs. Often, experts in the field and community members will share best practices, tips, and tricks on their own blogs. Following visionaries by regularly visiting their blogs, subscribing to them, or signing up for e-mail notifications for new posts can be great for keeping track of new developments in the big data space. Often, one blog will point to another, and to another, and soon enough you’ll have plenty of fodder for continuous learning and development.
  • Head to community meetups. A meetup is the perfect place to discover new things and improve your knowledge about a specific interest. It can be an effective and highly interactive way to stay on top of interesting or even puzzling big data topics. The Hortonworks Community Connection (HCC) supports meetups all over the world.
  • Attend industry events. As the big data field has grown, so too have the number of industry events available to learn from industry leaders and peers. As mentioned above, DataWorks Summit is just one of the many industry events on the growing number of topics that affect big data.
  • Look for video training sites. Videos demonstrating different administration, development, and support techniques are continually added to YouTube, Safari, Pluralsight, and other video platforms. A video demonstrating a concept or showing a procedure can be a very helpful resource for growing your knowledge—especially if you’re a visual learner—and sites like Pluralsight or Safari (or any others) can be a very affordable way to gain access to curated content from experts.
  • Explore what brand-new startups are doing. Look at Techcrunch, CNBC, Business Insider, or some other breaking news sites to understand how startups are architecting the next generation of big data. How are they adding on to the Hadoop ecosystem? What pieces of the data fabric are they reinventing? Understanding what data problems new startups are solving is an important part of staying up to date on the industry.
  • Encourage the use of home labs. Especially in the open-source community, home labs are a badge of honor and a fantastic way to get hands-on experience with software and techniques in a safe environment. Most vendors in this space have demo versions or fully functional trials for a handful of users, so access to the required bits shouldn’t be an obstacle.

Staying on top of the fast-moving big data world is important. There are plenty of resources available to you and your team—from blogs and videos to certification paths—that will help you keep your skills sharp, your industry views specific and targeted, and your resume polished.

Learn more about the Hortonworks Apache Hadoop certification and other trainings here.

Ronda Swaney
Freelance author and journalist
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