Big Data & Cloud Computing: The Roles & Relationships

cloud computing and big data


You’ve likely heard the terms “Big Data” and “Cloud Computing” before. If you’re involved with cloud application development, you may even have experience with them. The two go hand-in-hand, with many public cloud services performing big data analytics.

With Software as a Service (SaaS) becoming increasingly popular, keeping up-to-date with cloud infrastructure best practices and the types of data that can be stored in large quantities is crucial. We’ll take a look at the differences between cloud computing and big data, the relationship between them, and why the two are a perfect match, bringing us lots of new, innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

The Difference Between Big Data & Cloud Computing

Before discussing how the two go together, it’s important to form a clear distinction between “Big Data” and “Cloud Computing”. Although they are technically different terms, they’re often seen together in literature because they interact synergistically with one another.

  • Big Data: This simply refers to the very large sets of data that are output by a variety of programs. It can refer to any of a large variety of types of data, and the data sets are usually far too large to peruse or query on a regular computer.
  • Cloud Computing: This refers to the processing of anything, including Big Data Analytics, on the “cloud”. The “cloud” is just a set of high-powered servers from one of many providers. They can often view and query large data sets much more quickly than a standard computer could.

Essentially, “Big Data” refers to the large sets of data collected, while “Cloud Computing” refers to the mechanism that remotely takes this data in and performs any operations specified on that data.

The Roles & Relationship Between Big Data & Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing providers often utilize a “software as a service” model to allow customers to easily process data. Typically, a console that can take in specialized commands and parameters is available, but everything can also be done from the site’s user interface. Some products that are usually part of this package include database management systems, cloud-based virtual machines and containers, identity management systems, machine learning capabilities, and more.

In turn, Big Data is often generated by large, network-based systems. It can be in either a standard or non-standard format. If the data is in a non-standard format, artificial intelligence from the Cloud Computing provider may be used in addition to machine learning to standardize the data.

From there, the data can be harnessed through the Cloud Computing platform and utilized in a variety of ways. For example, it can be searched, edited, and used for future insights.

This cloud infrastructure allows for real-time processing of Big Data. It can take huge “blasts” of data from intensive systems and interpret it in real-time. Another common relationship between Big Data and Cloud Computing is that the power of the cloud allows Big Data analytics to occur in a fraction of the time it used to.

Big Data & Cloud Computing: A Perfect Match

As you can see, there are infinite possibilities when we combine Big Data and Cloud Computing! If we simply had Big Data alone, we would have huge data sets that have a huge amount of potential value just sitting there. Using our computers to analyze them would be either impossible or impractical due to the amount of time it would take.

However, Cloud Computing allows us to use state-of-the-art infrastructure and only pay for the time and power that we use! Cloud application development is also fueled by Big Data. Without Big Data, there would be far fewer cloud-based applications, since there wouldn’t be any real necessity for them. Remember, Big Data is often collected by cloud-based applications, as well!

In short, Cloud Computing services largely exist because of Big Data. Likewise, the only reason that we collect Big Data is because we have services that are capable of taking it in and deciphering it, often in a matter of seconds. The two are a perfect match, since neither would exist without the other!


Finally, it’s important to note that both Big Data and Cloud Computing play a huge role in our digital society. The two linked together allow people with great ideas but limited resources a chance at business success. They also allow established businesses to utilize data that they collect but previously had no way of analyzing.

More modern components of cloud infrastructure’s typical “Software as a Service” model such as artificial intelligence also enable businesses to get insights based on the Big Data they’ve collected. With a well-planned system, businesses can take advantage of all of this for a nominal fee, leaving competitors who refuse to use these new technologies in the dust.

Author Bio:

Gaurav Sharma is a Director of Operations at Chetu Inc. based in Las Vegas, Nevada. For 11 years, Gaurav has overseen various technical projects including software development in the cloud.