Amazon Elastic MapReduce is useful in cases where two conditions are met. First, that you are planning on using multiple big data tools simultaneously to analyze big data sets. And second, that you need a tool that simplifies managing big data tools. If these two conditions are met, MapReduce does a great job. The user interface is simple. The program eliminates some programming requirements. The software also makes setting up big data analyses much easier. With these benefits acknowledged, MapReduce is not a good tool for "small" data analyses, given that there are other tools that do the job quicker and much more professional output. If you're on the fence, try out MapReduce with competing "small" data tools and see if you really need big data software.