Paypal: Big data is a scam

By Stuart Sumner
01 Oct 2012 View Comments
Paypal home page screenshot

Daniel Austin, Paypal's chief architect, has claimed that big data is a scam "most of the time", stating that relational database tools can almost always solve supposed big data problems.

Further reading

Austin made his controversial claims at the MySQL Connect stream of this week's Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco.

"Big data is a big scam most of the time," said Austin. "A lot of people think they have a big data problem, but in fact they don't, they just want to find a big data solution because they think it looks good."

Awareness of big data has been growing in recent years among IT professionals, as businesses look to exploit the torrents of unstructured data arising from internet log files, social media, and smart sensor networks, among other sources.

The problem experienced by many businesses is that this unstructured data does not fit easily within traditional relational database management tools, making it hard to capture, store and analyse the information.

Austin gave the audience his take on the situation.

"There's lots of data coming in very quickly, with complex data models, and you need to write [to disc] faster than you read. There is also a fast data problem [as opposed to the volume problem], as seen by firms like Twitter, who need to process millions of queries per second.

"But you don't necessarily need [non-relational database management system] NoSQL. That's just one proposed solution."

 Austin said that people look to non-relational tools because they feel that typical RDBMS (relational database management systems) are slow, require complex data management, are costly to hold and maintain, and slow to change and adapt.

"People want to give up their relational model, I don't know why. I like my relational model. You don't have to give it up to solve your big data problem."

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