Big Data is one of those buzzwords that comes along every so often and which those in the technology industry like to grab hold of. Think social enterprise. Think cloud computing.

Essentially Big Data is the collection of vast data sets – data sets that are so large common data processing tools simply cannot cope with the capture, storage, analysis and so much more required to take advantage of it.

But like many subjects that get hyped up to a huge extent, Big Data seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. For example, a report released in April 2012 by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) claimed that Big Data could add £216bn to the UK economy by 2017, as well as create 58,000 new jobs.

However, on the flip side is the fact that another survey revealed 38% of IT managers said they did not have a clear understanding of what Big Data actually is. That did not stop 49% of them saying they were very concerned about managing Big Data.

The explosion in the use of smartphones, cloud computing and social networking means more data than ever before is being created and stored. But one aspect of this seems to be often overlooked: the network. To get the best out of Big Data, businesses must enable all that traffic from applications and so on to move freely across the network.

Here at F5 we are helping enterprises get the best out Big Data by ensuring that traffic and therefore all the data it is carrying gets where it needs to go in the most effective and cost-efficient way.

The recent announcement about updates to our Application Delivery Controller (ADC) included the new VIPRION 4800 chassis. It offers rates exceeding 20 million layer 7 requests per second and 160Gbps of SSL bulk throughput.

This throughput is vital to the health of your applications and networks. The network is vital to Big Data; you cannot get the right insights out of your data if it is not allowed the flow across the network and applications are not allowed to do what they need to.

The benefits of Big Data are clear – better customer insights mean increased sales. If you know more about your business and your customers you know them better and can offer them exactly what they want, even if they don’t know they want it. But to fully embrace it and its benefits you must ensure that your network is up to the challenge and can cope with the vast amounts of data that it will be travelling across it.