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FCW : December 2012
The proliferation of big data has government agencies scrambling to handle the new information forms even as they continue to multiply. The benefits of better, faster decision- making coupled with lower costs and improved citizen service make big data hugely attractive, but federal, state and local information technology managers are finding that new technology and new skills are required to tackle the explosion in information production, no easy feat that is made even more challenging by budget constraints. But before organizations can figure out how to manage and analyze big data, they must first understand what it is, said James McLeod-Warrick, managing partner at Beacon Technology Partners, during an Oct. 30, 2012, webcast titled "Big Data: From Hype to Reality." Big data describes a new generation of technologies and architectures designed to extract value from very large volumes of data flowing from a wide variety of sourc- es, McLeod-Warrick said. "There is no real consensus definition, but a common definition is data sets whose size is beyond the abilities of the typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze," added Scott Pearson, director of Big Data Solutions at Brocade. "It s a horizontal IT solution crossing many verticals, such as Web 2.0, health care, finance and federal." Big data isn t new but the advent of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010 -- "basically the proliferation of handheld devices," Pearson said -- caused the explo- sion of data. Ninety percent of the world s compute data has been produced in the past two years, he added. "Big data is growing seven times faster than the overall IT business," Pearson said. "It s here and it s real. It s not a marketing term." Public and private organizations have found that big data can expedite fact-based decision-making, deliver services more effi- ciently, help detect security risks and enable more accurate planning and forecasting. Still, it s not without challenges. "New skills sets are demanded to manage and analyze petabytes of data in real time," McLeod-Warrick said. "More sophisticated analytic tools are desired, and IT infrastruc- tures need to be far more flexible and agile to handle the volume, variety and velocity that big data requires." 3 V's of Big Data In August 2012, Federal Computer Week, along with Beacon Technology Partners, conducted a survey of technical and business decision-makers at federal agencies, including defense and civilian, to get a sense of where the govern- ment stands with big data. The survey found that about half of the agencies have big data initiatives under way, with 21 percent hav- ing fully implemented one and 35 percent starting one. Almost half of the 193 respon- dents believe that agencies that are unable to implement and use big data will find it harder to meet their agency s mission. The biggest draws of big data are improv- ing the quality and speed of decision-making (76 percent), better planning and forecasting (68 percent) and improving the efficiency of internal processes (67 percent). "Big data fundamentally involves the three V s: volume, variety and velocity of the data being received as well as ana- lyzed," McLeod-Warrick said. First, the average quantities of data used for a big data analytic project will grow 24 D D D D D DI I I I I IG G G G G G GI I I I I IT T T T T TA A A A A AL L L L L LD D D D D DI I I I I IA A A A A AL L L L L LO O O O O O OG G G G G G GU U U U U UE E E E E E TAKING THE GUESSWORK OUT OF BIG DATA Understanding where the information comes from and what's required to process it will aid adoption LISTEN/LEARN: Go to fcw.com/BigDataWebcast for a replay of the webcast SPONSORED CONTENT Big Data Defined Data sets whose size is beyond the abilities of the typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze. CURRENT TWO YEARS 24% DATA GROWTH IN 2 YEARS % of respondents' data stores by size category, in 2012 and 2014 UNDER 50 TERABYTES 50 TERABYTES TO 1 PETABYTE MORE THAN 1 PETABYTE 38% 34% 28% 50% 26% 24% Big data is growing seven times faster than the overall IT business. It's here and it's real." ----- Scott Pearson, director of Big Data Solutions at Brocade
November 30, 2012