Policies Can Be Barrier to Big Data

Loraine Lawson
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The Business Impact of Big Data

Many business executives want more information than ever, even though they're already drowning in it.

For some government agencies, the barrier to using Big Data might not be so much about technology, but about policy.


In a recent Federal News Radio interview, Rear Adm. Jan Tighe, the director for the Navy's Decision Superiority, said the Navy spends a lot of time and effort digging for data in databases, right now. A Big Data technology approach would be ideal - preferably, in a cloud with tagging - but the problem is the Navy's IT architecture isn't set up to do that. What's more, she adds, neither are its policies.


In fact, she describes the problem with a Big Data approach as primarily about policies, rather than technology. After all, she points out, Amazon and Google have decentralized, cloud-based IT systems, so, obviously, it can be done.


Google processes over 20 petabytes of data per day with its distributed systems, according to Ars Technica, which recently took an in-depth look at Google's "Great Disk Drive in the Sky."


That leaves the policy problem. The Navy and the Department of Defense need to rethink their silos and issues such as identity management. Tighe told Federal News Radio:

The policy changes we need to handle with DoD data have a lot of parallels with what the intelligence community has already done, and we want to leverage that. What we're talking about is making organic Navy data discoverable for all the applications that might need it, so that we're not duplicating data in all these various places.

Ultimately, the goal would be to tag data in such a way that it could be accessed across all the DoD, and possibly even with multinational coalitions.


Tighe's comments left me wondering what other policies might need to be changed for Big Data initiatives to move forward - and what policies may need to be put in place to safeguard against potential misuse.


Speaking of Big Data deployments, GigOm wrote about eBay's Big Data effort in January. Along with the Ars Technica piece on Google, it provides a fairly specific look at the technology underlying some of these major Big Data projects. Both articles are worth checking out.

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