Apache Hive is an open-source data warehouse system for querying and analyzing large datasets stored in Hadoop files. Hadoop is a framework for handling large datasets in a distributed computing environment.
Hive has three main functions: data summarization, query and analysis. It supports queries expressed in a language called HiveQL, which automatically translates SQL-like queries into MapReduce jobs executed on Hadoop. In addition, HiveQL supports custom MapReduce scripts to be plugged into queries. Hive also enables data serialization/deserialization and increases flexibility in schema design by including a system catalog called Hive-Metastore.
According to the Apache Hive wiki, "Hive is not designed for OLTP workloads and does not offer real-time queries or row-level updates. It is best used for batch jobs over large sets of append-only data (like web logs)."
Hive supports text files (also called flat files), SequenceFiles (flat files consisting of binary key/value pairs) and RCFiles (Record Columnar Files which store columns of a table in a columnar database way.)