College of Business and Economics | Nov. 18, 2013 | Spotlight

Cal State L.A. professor helps meet the big data challenge

Professor Woo partners with Cloudera, Amazon Web Services to prepare students for the rapidly emerging big data market

Picture of Professor Woo

In the information age, social media, smart phones, web applications, and work and other networks generate massive amounts of data. How will business or other entities store all this data?

Cal State L.A.’s Professor Jongwook Woo is seeking for solutions, especially for private businesses and global companies looking into more cost-effective ways to collect and process the increasingly large and complex data sets.

“It is too expensive to store and compute big data using traditional technology, so it is idea to have the data run on multiple commodity computers in parallel with big data platforms,” said CSULA Professor Jongwook Woo, who is training information systems students at CSULA on how to use big data systems for data storage, management, and analytics.

According to a study published in a 2011 Science magazine, the world’s technological capacity to share information has roughly doubled every 40 months since the 1980s; as of 2012, every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created.

Most institutes, industries and research centers have recently been adopting big data systems, and they are actively recruiting individuals knowledgeable in such technology.

To prepare CSULA students for the growing field, Woo has partnered with Cloudera Enterprise to teach practical programming knowledge of big data services and applications, such as Hadoop, MapReduce, Hive, Sqoop, Flume, and Pig.

Cloudera is a leader in Hadoop-based software and offers a powerful new data platform that enables companies and organizations to look at all their data.

“This is the first time Hadoop and its ecosystems have been taught at CSULA and any other university in Southern California,” said Woo. “It is a great opportunity for CSULA to become a leading university in helping students fill big data jobs.”

Woo, who garnered an Amazon Web Services (AWS) educational grant and an AWS research grant, started teaching classes related to big data this past spring for the university’s Department of Information Systems.

The educational grant provides an inexpensive way for him to teach courses in distributed/parallel computing and storage-intensive subject matter.

“In the past, such courses would have required extensive hardware and network infrastructure, but now we can offer these courses at CSULA,” explained Woo.

The funding also provides each student with access to the global computing infrastructure and storage capacity from the AWS cloud for hands-on exercises in Hadoop and its ecosystems.

As part of the AWS research grant, Woo has been involved in big data projects to study customer behavior of transaction data in the market, to analyze movie data statistics, and to detect data pattern of security log data in the security industry.

Woo has been consulted regionally and globally for his big data expertise. He recently traveled to Korea to train engineers at Samsung Electronics but he also sees the potential for adopting systems on campus.

“Many departments at CSULA that produce and want to analyze large scale data can adopt and learn big data technology,” said Woo, who is also director of the University’s High Performance Information Computer Center.