Big Data Engineers are at the forefront of empowering artificial intelligence

Anastasija Uspenski

Big Data engineers provide the critical infrastructure and tools required for processing, storing, and analyzing the vast amounts of data AI systems need.

Big Data has long been taken as a buzzword in the tech world, but with the expansion of artificial intelligence, it is needed more than ever. We’ve asked one to share Big Data engineers’ responsibilities, innovations, and challenges in today’s tech landscape.

From managing massive amounts of data to ensuring its quality, integration, and security, these experts’ roles are critical to the success of AI projects and applications. They are responsible for building the infrastructure, designing systems, and developing workflows necessary to cope with the challenges posed by the rapid evolution of Big Data technologies and tools.

Their expertise in data management, processing, scalability, security, and real-time processing is critical for companies looking to enable the full potential of AI. Ivana Isailovic from Serbia, a highly qualified expert in the field of Big Data engineering, told us more about the tasks of Big Data engineers, the technologies they use in their work, and how they stay in touch with the latest trends and data protection.

What does a Big Data engineer do?

Ivana: As a Big Data Engineer, my role encompasses various responsibilities and activities. I engage in critical tasks such as data analysis, delving deep into research to uncover relevant patterns and trends that hold value for our clients. Following the analysis, I take charge of data modeling, designing the optimal structure for organizing, storing, and processing information.

Choosing the exemplary system architecture is vital, and key parameters in this selection process include data size, nature, types, processing speed, security, privacy, scalability, and the tools to be employed. Collaboration is central to our success as we develop and implement Big Data solutions as a team, each member taking ownership of their designated aspects.

Additionally, I actively maintain and monitor Big Data systems to ensure their reliability and optimal performance. My workdays are dynamic, involving meetings with the team to discuss new functionality, optimizations, and challenges, as well as programming and closely monitoring system performance.

What technical skills and knowledge must a Big Data engineer possess?

Ivana: A successful Big Data Engineer should have a solid understanding of programming and familiarity with Big Data technologies and databases. Analytical skills are crucial in extracting valuable insights from vast data, enabling effective problem-solving.

Communication and teamwork are equally indispensable, fostering seamless collaboration with colleagues. Considering the rapidly evolving landscape of Big Data technologies, a commitment to continuous learning is paramount.

As for my toolkit, I rely heavily on Python and Scala programming languages for their versatility and robustness. For data processing and analysis, we harness the power of popular tools like Apache Spark and Apache Kafka, tailored to the data collection method.

Real-time processing calls for Apache Kafka, while we employ various other tools and techniques for batch processing. Our data storage solutions are diverse, ranging from Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) to Cloud-native Environment File (CEF), Apache HBase, MongoDB, and ElasticSearch, which serves as a reliable search engine.

These technologies ensure efficient organization, storage, and retrieval of massive data sets, empowering our work in Big Data environments.

How do you stay up to date with trends and the latest technologies necessary to your profession?

Ivana: I regularly follow expert blogs, webinars, and technical articles specifically focused on Big Data fields. These resources offer in-depth insights into the latest trends, cutting-edge tools, and emerging techniques that shape the industry. They serve as a wellspring of knowledge, allowing me to stay ahead of the curve.

Additionally, I actively participate in technical conferences and events online and on-site. Although the pandemic has shifted many events online, I have continued to engage with the community virtually. These events provide an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals, ask questions, and glean from the experiences of others.

Online communities have been instrumental in my professional growth. Being part of these communities enables me to network with fellow developers and engineers, fostering a vibrant space for knowledge exchange and mutual learning. The insights gained from these interactions are invaluable in honing my skills and staying informed.

I extensively use online learning platforms such as Udemy and Pluralsight to enhance my skill set. These platforms offer a vast array of online courses that allow me to learn at my own pace, making it convenient to adapt my learning to fit my schedule. The practical examples and exercises helped deepen my field knowledge and expertise.

Additionally, I actively engage in internal training and workshops organized by Synechron, the company I work for. These sessions provide the opportunity to learn from in-house experts and apply the latest techniques and tools in a hands-on environment.

Beyond technical skills, I also participate in workshops to enhance soft skills such as communication, teamwork, project management, and time management. These skills play a vital role in my success in a professional setting, enabling effective collaboration with colleagues and clients.

Examples of challenges and successes in Big Data projects

Ivana: I have been part of several successful projects, each offering unique challenges and rewarding experiences. In these projects, my primary responsibilities revolved around researching and selecting the most suitable tools, choosing the optimal architecture, data modeling, processing, and efficient data storage within the system.

One notable project involved a massive dataset that required extensive analysis to derive valuable insights for our clients. My team and I faced the challenge of selecting the most appropriate tools to process and manage such a colossal volume of data effectively. We navigated through several options, finally implementing a combination of Apache Spark and Kafka for real-time processing and other tools for batch processing. This decision significantly optimized data handling and resulted in successful project outcomes.

In another instance, we needed to modify the existing data model to accommodate new data types and ensure seamless integration with the evolving client requirements. This called for agile problem-solving and collaborative decision-making within the team.

We devised an efficient data model that met the project’s demands by embracing open communication and leveraging our diverse skill sets. One of the most common challenges in our work is ensuring data accuracy and relevance. While the sheer volume of available data is invaluable, it also introduces the risk of inaccuracies.

To mitigate this challenge, we employ thorough data validation and verification processes. This ensures the integrity of the data we utilize for analysis and decision-making. Additionally, ensuring data privacy and security remains a top priority. We continuously reinforce our systems with encryption, authentication, and authorization measures to safeguard sensitive information from potential threats.

Regular system testing helps us identify vulnerabilities proactively and maintain data security effectively. Overcoming these challenges has always been a collective effort. The key lies in effective teamwork, fostering open communication, and leveraging the diverse expertise of each team member.

Embracing the philosophy that every problem has a solution, we approach challenges with a positive mindset, never shying away from learning and growing through the process.

Teamwork is the backbone of success

Ivana: Teamwork is crucial in our business. Collaboration with various stakeholders is integral to our success as Big Data engineers. Our project teams typically comprise diverse experts, including project managers, business analysts, Java developers, DevOps and QA specialists, and Big Data engineers like myself.

Effective communication and seamless cooperation among team members are paramount. We hold meetings to exchange vital information, define project goals, and coordinate activities. These gatherings help us align with client requirements and expectations, setting the foundation for smooth project execution.

We also leverage various instant messaging and information-sharing applications to facilitate real-time communication. These channels enable us to quickly address questions and resolve minor issues, fostering efficient collaboration and timely responses.

For more significant challenges or complex problems, we convene comprehensive team meetings. In these sessions, we meticulously analyze the situation, consider diverse perspectives, and collectively brainstorm solutions. The team’s synergy of ideas and expertise often leads to innovative problem-solving approaches.

The hallmark of our cooperation lies in open communication, mutual understanding, and practical collaboration. Working together synergizes our strengths, effectively tackles challenges, and achieves project goals. Ultimately, this collaborative spirit allows us to deliver high-quality solutions and ensure client satisfaction.

Teamwork is the backbone of our success as Big Data engineers, and it underscores the importance of building a cohesive team that can navigate complexities and bring out the best in each member. This spirit of togetherness elevates our projects and drives us to achieve excellence in our work.

Big Data engineers and artificial intelligence

Ivana: Big Data engineers are at the forefront of empowering artificial intelligence. We provide the critical infrastructure and tools required for processing, storing, and analyzing the vast amounts of data AI systems need. Our work is pivotal in ensuring the quality and structure of data, serving as a foundation for reliable AI outcomes.

There are several points of convergence between Big Data development and artificial intelligence. Initially, Big Data Engineers meticulously collect, filter, and prepare data, ensuring it is suitable for in-depth analysis and use in AI systems. Moreover, we focus on optimizing AI systems, employing parallelization and distributed data processing techniques to handle extensive data efficiently sets essential for AI operations.

Big Data engineers’ impact on the accuracy and relevance of data in AI systems

Ivana: Protecting data privacy and security is a top priority in Big Data and AI. We deploy encryption, authentication, and authorization within our systems to fortify sensitive information. Additionally, firewalls and intrusion detection procedures form part of our defense mechanisms.

We continuously test our systems to identify and rectify flaws and vulnerabilities, complying with data protection regulations to safeguard data privacy. Educating and fostering security awareness among team members is crucial, ensuring everyone understands potential dangers and how to respond to challenges.

The future of Big Data engineering and its role in AI innovation

Ivana: The future of Big Data engineering is promising, with many innovative tools, techniques, and methodologies on the horizon.

I am particularly excited about the potential for optimizing and implementing advanced analyses in new Big Data systems. AI’s continuous integration into various aspects of daily life is captivating, and our role as Big Data engineers remains indispensable in unlocking AI’s full potential.

Maintaining an ethical approach to data use is essential, ensuring responsible and positive change through AI and data-driven technologies.

> subscribe shift-mag --latest

Sarcastic headline, but funny enough for engineers to sign up

Get curated content twice a month

* indicates required

Written by people, not robots - at least not yet. May or may not contain traces of sarcasm, but never spam. We value your privacy and if you subscribe, we will use your e-mail address just to send you our marketing newsletter. Check all the details in ShiftMag’s Privacy Notice