Solving Big Problems in Creative Ways: A Day in the Life of a Big Data Architect

A Day in the Life of a Big Data Architect
Author

Shivam Arora

Last updated November 27, 2018


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With our modern-day use of the Internet, we are generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every minute of every day. Whether we log onto Facebook, do a search using Google, click on a link in an email, or buy from an online retailer, we as consumers are constantly creating more data. But then there is also the data generated by the environment, weather patterns, traffic systems, energy usage, manufacturing, healthcare and even space. Suffice to say, it’s a lot of data.

Unfortunately, the pace at which we are creating data far outpaces the number of people trained to help businesses capture, manage and use that data effectively. We have moved from the famous line “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” to one of “Data, data everywhere…and not enough people to manage it.” 

The proliferation of data in our world today has also led to a proliferation of jobs as new technologies demand new skills to harness and use that data. So far, we are falling short on meeting that job demand. In particular, we are short on Big Data Architects, those skilled professionals who both design and build efficient, cost-effective Big Data applications that help businesses quickly find answers to their questions. One report says 2018 will see a shortage of 190,000 Big Data Architects just in the U.S. alone.

The IT industry has several types of architects to be sure, but it’s the Big Data Architect who takes a different approach to data problems, one that is tightly focused on business goals and closely aligns technology solutions to those goals. The business inundated with volumes of data needs someone who understands all aspects of database design and “architects” solutions in the same way the architect of a building designs a structure or framework. It is the job of the Big Data Architect to shape the way data is gathered, processed, stored, analyzed, understood and used. 
 
And they are well paid for their specialized skills! Glassdoor ranks the data architect as 16th out of the 25 highest paying jobs in America, and Indeed says a Big Data Hadoop Architect in the U.S. can expect to make an annual salary of between $111,000 and $124,000. 

To learn more about a career in this domain, read on for some insight into a day in the life of a Big Data Architect. It is more varied than you might think!

A Day in the Life of a Big Data Architect

Ask anyone who is working in the domain and you will hear them say a Big Data Architect position is perfect for anyone who loves data. Since the greater part of a Big Data Architect’s job will involve data in one way or another, a love of data does seem like a prerequisite. But how do the other aspects of a day in the life of a Big Data Architect look like? It’s not all data all the time. Big Data Architects must know data inside and out, but they also must have strong marketing and analytical skills, a solid knowledge of statistics and applied math, and an understanding of security and governance. And, because they are expected to be so well-rounded in their knowledge and skillsets, they also spend their days involved in a variety of activities beyond simply designing data solutions. They also spend a significant amount of time in meetings, working with team members, and using a wide variety of tools.

Thinking Outside the Box

On a practical level, a Big Data Architect will be involved with the complete lifecycle of a solution, from an analysis of the requirements to the design of the solution, and then the development, testing, deployment, and governance of that solution. In addition, they must also stay on top of any upgrade and maintenance needs. But through it all, they must be creative problem solvers.

A love of data is a prerequisite for a role as a Big Data Architect for sure, but so is the ability to think outside the box. Research the skills required to be a Big Data Architect and you will see countless references to the importance of creative and innovative thinking, mainly because a Big Data Architect is responsible for coming up with new ways to tackle new problems. There isn’t any textbook or user manual that will provide the answers because this world of data we now live in--and the competitive environment that requires businesses to put that data to use in real-time--requires new solutions. Yes, a typical day involves working with data, but often in an innovative, analytical way. 

Acting As the Bridge Between Business and Big Data

Those data needs are, of course, driven by the business. As a result, a Big Data Architect must be comfortable moving between the technology and business sides of the organization because their end goal is making the data usable in support of business goals. 

That means a Big Data Architect must have excellent communication skills because much of their time is spent in meetings which seek to understand business requirements, before performing a detailed analysis of the problem and coming up with a possible solution. On the flip side, they also must be able to explain possible solutions and the benefits or drawbacks to each of these solutions. In pursuit of these goals, a Big Data Architect will also spend part of their day documenting use cases, solutions, and recommendations as they propose ways to address business requirements.

Collaborating with the Big Data Team

In addition to meetings regarding business needs, a Big Data Architect will meet with team members too. A Big Data Architect is only one member of a data team. That means part of their day will involve collaborating with the system architects, software architects, design analysts, and program and project managers involved in designing, implementing, maintaining and securing solutions. That collaboration involves meetings, plenty of email communications, and often a messaging app like Slack. 

Using a Wide Range of Tools

In addition to the time spent on problem solving and meetings, a Big Data Architect spends a significant part of each day using a wide variety of tools. A Big Data Architect will probably be using Hadoop or Spark as the data processing engine, but they will also use about a dozen other tools and applications, including data modeling and visualization tools, advanced analytical tools, data collection and storage tools, ETL tools, database languages like SQL and NoSQL, and coding languages such as Java and Python. 

How to Get Started as a Big Data Architect

Does this degree of variety appeal to you? If you’ve read through the description of a typical day and now you’re considering a career move into a Big Data Architect position, your next step is finding a quality elearning provider that can teach you the many varied skills you’ll need to get started, like Simpliearn’s Big Data Architect Masters Program

Simpliearn’s Big Data Architect Masters Program was designed by Ronald Van Loon, one of the top 10 Big Data and Data Science influencers in the world. The program will give you an in-depth education in the Hadoop development framework, including real-time processing using Spark, NoSQL, and other Big Data technologies, to prepare you for a job as a Big Data Architect. 

Throughout the program, you will learn to use advanced analytical tools such as Flume, Kafka, and Spark; data collection and storage tools including MongoDB and Cassandra; ETL tools like Pig and Hive; the Hadoop file system; and programming tools including MapReduce, Python, Java, and Scala. The program also includes over 12 real-life industry-based projects that will teach you about working with clusters, and how Big Data is applied in industries as diverse as banking and entertainment. Despite the volume of material covered, the course can be completed in as few as 21 weeks if you devote eight hours per week to study time. 

Not every skill needed as a Big Data Architect can be taught. Your ability to think creatively and your strong analytical and communication skills are qualities you must bring to the table when you start down the Big Data Architect learning path. But if you have these skills plus a passion for problem solving and a love of data, this lucrative and promising career field could be the perfect fit for you…with plenty of job openings just waiting for you to take them! 

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About the Author

Shivam Arora is a Senior Product Manager at Simplilearn. Passionate about driving product growth, Shivam has managed key AI and IOT based products across different business functions. He has 6+ years of product experience with a Masters in Marketing and Business Analytics.

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