The Apache Hive data warehouse software facilitates querying and managing large datasets residing in distributed storage. Hive provides a mechanism to project structure onto this data and query the data using a SQL-like language called HiveQL. At the same time this language also allows traditional map/reduce programmers to plug in their custom mappers and reducers when it is inconvenient or inefficient to express this logic in HiveQL.
Hive is both a metadata layer on top of HDFS and a SQL interpreter. This allows companies to store structured or semi-structured data as files on Hadoop without a large initial data modeling effort, once business requirements align with the need to extract new insights from the stored data a development team can leverage the “schema on read” paradigm to create metadata about these files.
Having a SQL interpreter allows business analysts and power users to have access to terabytes or petabytes of information through a familiar query language. This is a dramatic departure from MapReduce where a very specialized skill set would be required to write multiple Map and Reduce functions in order to achieve the same results.