New technologies, concepts and ideas are emerging at a fast pace and finding their way into our daily lives, businesses today are in the process of trying to keep up. Implementing these new age developments in the field of technology in business processes has always been a prime goal of companies around the world especially when they know that these help in resolving the needs and pain points of their customers.
With the view of making processes more effective, efficient and rewarding, companies keep trying to make the most of all opportunities that present themselves in the course of passing time. One such concept that has made a huge difference in changing things up and making things more interesting is Big Data. With millions and millions of connected smart devices and the proliferation of social media, large volumes of data get generated on a daily basis. This unstructured data can be used by businesses through various processes like web crawling, data mining and data analysis to arrive at relevant, actionable business insight that can drive business plans and strategies.
The preferred modus operandi of many companies nowadays is to scour the web, especially deep web like Amazon, for relevant data about its customers and potential customers. They then use that data to fine-tune their products and services, communication protocols, marketing strategies and various other business processes that have a visible and substantial hand in the success of that company. In this context, there is often a need to build applications that take in information, store them, structure and categorize them and even help in processing them, thus getting us to the need of database and database apps.
Database apps are very much a part of businesses worldwide, and they serve a multitude of purposes within the context of a business. These apps essentially feature a central database where collected data is stored, and a number of features which allow manipulation of that data. In the context of Big Data and web crawling, database apps can have a special significance to businesses as they offer them a way to collate data and use these features to arrive at important insight, which can then drive decision-making.
An Overview of Database Apps
Database apps are applications which involve the manipulation of data fields inside a database. The goal is to collect unstructured data from multiple sources via various means, and to store it inside the database. Following the initial storage, there can be various operations that can be run on the data. For example, there can be a classification and categorization protocol which can turn the data into structured data ready for use. There can also be different sorting options, the ability to generate statistical information and many other forms of data manipulation and maneuvering.
In addition to targeted business use for your own business, you can also use database apps to power search engines or provide DaaS solutions. The applications are diverse and many companies are currently using these apps to empower their business.
Web Crawling Basics
When it comes to creating and populating database apps, one of the best options to find the relevant data that you need is through the use of a web crawler. To take advantage of the massive amount of information available in the world of Big Data, using a web crawler to pry out the useful bits of information and then storing it in a database application is almost a routinely used process now when it comes to companies. Let us take a look at some of the fundamental aspects of web crawlers and see why they are a perfect foil for database applications.
Web crawlers are specialized programs that perform one task – data extraction on the internet. Web crawlers work in the following way –
– To start off, there needs to be a list of web pages to crawl
– The web crawler script then visits each web page on the list and downloads all content
– The downloaded page is then parsed to identify and retrieve links
– The crawler then repeats the process for each of the links on the page
You can specify one or multiple start locations relevant to your requirements and the web crawler will then automatically crawl the web pages in question, retrieve relevant data and store information on the database. The process is the same when human users follow links as per their requirements, but with a web crawler the entire task is automated, and happens at fast pace. At any point of time, the crawler can communicate with hundreds of servers and download web data at a rapid rate.
Web crawling provides you with an unstructured, unfiltered data bank which you can store in your database application for further processing.
Web Crawling for your Database Apps
If you want a seamless, automated process for populating your database app, you will need to find the right web crawling approach to suit your needs. There are many different nuances to web crawling, and crawling activities can be customized and automated to a great degree. For true efficiency, you need to take stock of your requirements carefully and then devise a web crawling script that is perfectly tuned to your requirements.
If you need highly relevant data about certain particular areas of interest or niches, you do not need to waste time running a general purpose crawler. Making your crawling activities more targeted is a better option. With focused crawling, you can instruct your web crawling script to target web addresses and resources which are already known to be about a certain specific topic. You start off by defining a set of topics that you are interested in, and instruct your web crawler to crawl the web pages which deal with those topics only.
The crawler then analyzes all links it comes across, and chooses only the most relevant ones to crawl. Relevant pages are crawled efficiently and irrelevant ones are naturally filtered out by the advanced components of the crawler. If you have highly specific requirements or resources are at a premium, this is the best way to achieve the results you want. Focused crawling takes less time to run, consumes less resources and bandwidth and delivers more targeted results. On the flip side, focused web crawling scripts can take time to be created according to your specifications. There might also be a significant amount of testing and tweaking involved to get things exactly right.
Distributed crawling is a process that increases the scope and capacity of your crawling tools and makes for more efficient mining and processing of data. Due to the size of the web, it is easy to lose track of things and give your crawler more work than it can realistically handle. If you want to fetch large amounts of data at a rapid pace, you would need something more than a single web crawling process. Distributed crawling makes use of multiple, discrete crawling processes to distribute the workload. This way you can create a crawling system that can easily handle high volume tasks while remaining versatile and scalable. Your hardware will also undergo less stress so you will see enhanced performance across the board.
Developing a web crawler is something that requires careful handling. There are a number of issues that you have to always account for. These issues range from speed and efficiency issues all the way to legal issues and privacy issues. Keeping the big picture in mind and knowing what you can and cannot do is the best way to come up with the right web crawling architecture you need to populate your database applications.
With a highly tuned, efficient web crawler, you will be able to access relevant data from all corners of the web in a matter of minutes. This large volume of information can then be stored and processed in your database application. While developing your database application, careful attention needs to be paid to ensure that the inherent databases have the capacity and maneuverability that you require for sifting through and analyse that data. Furthermore, taking into account the latest technology in terms of database and application development technology and using universally followed protocols and best practices can be a great way to maintain a degree of qualitative control over your efforts.
Web crawling and databases go hand in hand, and their combination can truly empower your company on your way forward. Be it for in-house use or for making available various Big Data related services on the cloud, you can take this combination and run with it, creating important business insight that you cannot get any other way. With efficiently running, performing web crawling and a solid, reliable database application, all you need to do to leverage the power of Big Data can be done easily and seamlessly.
Using these inputs, you can go on to start building your database app from such using the various advantages of web crawling and leverage and power of Big Data to make your business smarter, better informed, and more proactive to customer needs and preferences.