The big data phenomenon has given rise to a lot of discussion. I think that there is general consensus that big data is something more than just ultra-large scale data at the petabyte level. It is somehow different.

But different from what? Well, presumably it is different from what we have been taking for granted as data during the history of data management to date. This legacy data seems to now be termed "structured" data. I suspect the term comes from the relational revolution, which is now so embedded in data management  that it is seen as constituting the status quo -- at least before big data came along. Yet there is nothing inherent about structured data that prevents it from being large-scale and nothing inherent in big data that prevents it from being structured. So are we looking at some kind of continuum here or are there real differences? I believe there are real differences and that big data is unique in a way that will inspire important innovations in data management.

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