Tech industry begins to press educational institutions for big data skills

Silicon Valley vendor takes the big data skills challenge to the university level.

At many of the "big data" events I have attended over the past couple of years, I've been hearing a common refrain from speakers and attendees alike: "We're hiring!" Demand for data analytics skills is insatiable, but there aren't enough candidates trained in this area.

Illustration: Joe McKendrick

One vendor in the thick of the Silicon Valley big data world that has been scrambling to provide training programs to keep up with the demand has decided to take the skills challenge to a new level, prodding universities to launch their own curricula in big data analytics. Cloudera, a provider of a big data management platform, announced the launch of a global program with seven charter universities designed to bring big data courses to engineering and analytics students.

Cloudera's specialty is Apache Hadoop, an open-source clustering framework that converts big data flows into manageable files for consumption by business applications. Adoption of and interest in Hadoop has skyrocketed over the past two years.

Universities that have signed on with Cloudera include: Auburn University (Alabama);  California State University, Los Angeles (California); Harvard University: Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (Massachusetts); Purdue University (Indiana); San Jose State University (California); Technische Universität Berlin (Germany); and The University of Stavanger (Norway).

Learning big data and Hadoop means more than developing technology and data management skills. There's a wide range of disciplines that can be enhanced, from customer service to healthcare. "We have several labs sequencing massive amounts of genomic data that needs to be mapped and processed, then delivered back to scientists," says Stas Alekseev, systems administrator at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. "We are investing in this technology because we see an enormous amount of intelligence hidden in this data."

Cloudera's program builds upon its own Cloudera University, which focuses on Apache Hadoop, its ecosystem and data science. Professors and students affiliated with these institutions can download  Cloudera's training materials and receive discounts on Cloudera Certification exams.

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