VanRoekel: Convergence of cloud computing, big data creating opportunities

The intersection of cloud computing and big data gives government agencies opportunities in areas such as DNA sequencing and national security, said speakers at a National Institute of Standards and Technology workshop.

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel said that the federal government in only at the "tip of the iceberg" in its use of cloud and big data. The government is sitting on a "treasure trove" of data that could open up opportunities for scientific discovery and entrepreneurship, he said.

"We're just now starting to see companies founded on government data," he said. "The combination of cloud and big data not only can create useful insights but also can create incredible value downstream like public safety and economic benefit."

The challenge is to make policies that "foster the next wave of value and innovation," VanRoekel said. "We are at the early stages where there's a lot of shaping and definitions to be done."

One issue, said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher, is that big data, unlike cloud computing, doesn't have a common definition.

"We haven't yet agreed as a community what exactly we mean by big data," he said. "There's a lot of suggested definitions about the key attributes of big data. Many of them include notions of volume, velocity, and complexity. And, at NIST, we see elements of all three of these."

For more:
- watch the NIST workshop webcast

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