Four Places Where the Data is Big

Big Data is BIG.  From taxes to medical records to warfare to education, Big Data is everywhere. Here are four examples of where the data is BIG today:

IRS:  It wasn’t that long ago that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decided that it didn’t want paper tax returns anymore. While it was happy to buy discs, it didn’t want to buy anymore file cabinets. Those discs are today massive quantities of storage capacity, and in fact the IRS may be one of the foremost Big Data generators in the government. With hundreds of millions of taxpayers and data filling the equivalent of billions of pages of paper records, the IRS has an enormous challenge—collecting, securing, analyzing, processing, and archiving its vast collection of sensitive financial data on virtually every individual in the country.

Healthcare:  Just think about how much data the average patient generates in a year.  With computers and mobile devices quickly replacing traditional patient charts, the number of electronic medical records (EMRs) has skyrocketed. Also, improvements in medical imaging and new applications (for example, digital pathology and 3D mammography) are driving a need for more efficient ways to access, manage, and store huge quantities of data.  In addition, governing access to sensitive data—managing who, when, and how confidential records may be retrieved—is a concern that payer and provider communities share.

Department of Defense:  Modern warfare is changing – and bringing Big Data needs along with it.  Accurate intelligence data forms the foundation for sound decision-making across government agencies. Increasingly, this data comes in raw form from multiple large data sensors, providing the necessary information for both manual and automated analysis. One of the most revolutionary and powerful developments in the field of battle has been the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and satellites to boost intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.  In 2009, drone aircraft flying over Iraq and Afghanistan returned roughly 24 years’ worth of video footage for processing. Updated models deployed in 2010 produced 10 times as many data streams as their predecessors, and those in 2011 tripled that workload.

Education:  Today education is high tech. As educational institutions continue to face tight budgets with ever-increasing mandates, managing growing data stores becomes more and more challenging. Data storage growth has largely been fueled by an increase in high-bandwidth education applications for e-learning, multimedia programs, and Web 2.0 applications, as well as business appli­cations for day-to-day administration. The need to securely protect massive amounts of student, faculty, and staff data has put additional demands on IT teams. In five years, a school or college data center could go from storing 5 TB of data to needing capacity for 90 TB. Continually purchasing new storage systems and hiring the IT staff to manage the growing infrastructure is usually not in the budget. On the other hand, compromising performance and availability by making do with existing resources can have disastrous results.

Don't forget to join FCW and the Tech America Foundation Wednesday, December 12th for the 2012 Big Data Executive Briefing sponsored by NetApp!