"In fact, today Hadoop probably has the ability to cater to a wider range of end users than the data management systems that have come before, and that has always been the strength of Hadoop," Zedlewski says. "The three things that Hadoop does really well is it's very scalable, it's very flexible and very inexpensive."
As well as being flexible and robust, it's this last point that has so many people interested in Hadoop. However, while Hadoop runs on commodity hardware, you either have to hire someone to put everything together or find a third-party provider such as Cloudera to do it for you. With HPCC, much of the functionality you need is available out of the box-and it runs on commodity boxes as well.
In the final analysis, on the one hand, if you're looking for a more robust solution that provides enterprise-grade functionality, then HPCC may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you are just wanting to get a feel for what big data is all about, then Hadoop may be the better alternative, since it has a massive open-source ecosystem of developers working on it daily and a host of third-party companies springing up to take advantage of the opportunity big data represents.
"The macro trend that is driving all this is the explosion of data," Zedlewski says. "Data is growing faster than Moore's Law, which is requiring this different architecture and different way of working with data. And the reason it's growing faster than Moore's Law is because more and more things are getting hooked up to computers, whether it be your house, your TV, your cell phone, the flight you took. When that happens, they all wind up generating data at prodigious rates."
Allen Bernard is a Columbus, Ohio-based writer who covers IT management and the integration of technology into the enterprise. You can reach Bernard via email or follow him on Twitter @allen_bernard1. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.
Read more about big data in CIO's Big Data Drilldown.