While big data technologies are growing rapidly and benefit a wide range of science and engineering domains, many barriers remain for the remote sensing community to fully exploit the benefits provided by these powerful and rapidly developing technologies. To overcome existing barriers, this paper presents the in-depth experience gained when adopting a distributed computing framework – Hadoop HBase – for storage, indexing, and integration of large scale, high resolution laser scanning point cloud data. Four data models were conceptualized, implemented, and rigorously investigated to explore the advantageous features of distributed, key-value database systems. In addition, the comparison of the four models facilitated the reassessment of several well-known point cloud management techniques founded in traditional computing environments in the new context of a distributed, key-value database. The four models were derived from two row-key designs and two columns structures, thereby demonstrating various considerations during the development of a data solution for high-resolution, city-scale aerial laser scan for a portion of Dublin, Ireland. This paper presents lessons learned from the data model design and its implementation for spatial data management in a distributed computing framework. The study is a step towards full exploitation of powerful emerging computing assets for dense spatio-temporal data.