If you are even remotely interested in big data, there is more than good chance you have heard the word Hadoop recently. Hadoop is an open source software platform that helps process large data sets. Many people don’t realize that a majority of data (80%) that is created every day is unstructured. Hadoop acts as an organizing tool, storing data in various clusters of servers. There is no wonder that big names like Facebook and Yahoo are using it as part of their platform. When coming across a system such as Hadoop however, one has to ask, “where did that name come from?”. Doug Cutting, the creator of the program, recently gave an answer.

Instead of spending hours slaving away at a creative name, Cutting instead turned to his 2 year old son for a little inspiration. His son, who like all two year olds babbles out mostly noises instead of words, had named his stuffed yellow elephant “Hadoop”. For Cutting, the name seemed perfect.

He didn’t reveal the name right away. He knew it would work but wanted wait to use it on the perfect product. As he began developing the open source software platform, Cutting knew it would be a great fit. By that time, his son was no longer using the toy as he once did, but it didn’t matter. The word was all he needed.

For those in the software businesses, coming up with names is never an easy task, especially for something as technical as a big data platform. You don’t want it to sound too scientific and boring, yet it has to be appropriate as well. Additionally, because software technology is always changing, a name can’t be so specific that it becomes dated over time. The best option for naming software then, is something that has little meaning already attached to it, something like “Hadoop”.

Other names for software or technology products seem to follow a similar trend. Google for example, had little meaning attached to it when the company first began but is a household name now. It has even become a commonly used verb. In fact, you probably heard someone today say, “Why don’t you Google it?”. “Mozilla” Firefox is similarly ambiguous but memorable at the same time.

But smart marketing isn’t the only reason Cutting wanted to name the big data platform after his son’s toy. He also feels that companies need to be able to laugh and have fun every once in a while as well. Enterprise business software can be a boring and monotonous field to work in. It is usually very technical and very serious. Without a source of fun and humor, such a job has the potential to become quite miserable.

As for his son, who is now 12, he knows that he is the brilliant namer of Hadoop. However, Cutting has decided to leave his family out of the spotlight. While his son wants credit for the name, Cutting is content leaving him in the background.

Read more: