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February 18, 2016

Big Data Presents a Challenge for Federal Agencies

“Big data” is the latest digital trend among federal agencies, as many of them work to develop and apply strategies to use the information they glean from that data. Along with the massive influx of data that federal agencies are collecting come several notable challenges that agencies must overcome.

Big Data is Big
The data that federal agencies work with is “big” on two fronts. First, it’s large in volume. Second, it’s incredibly complex. Both of these factors require powerful computers and skilled data scientists – both of which can be costly – in order to obtain usable insights from the raw information.

Fortunately, the technologies that agencies need to analyze this data are quickly improving, and many can be accessed through cloud-based services. These services make it much easier to make sense of voluminous amounts of complex data without the need for data scientists.

Security is Key
Another challenge of working with big data is the need to meet rigorous security and compliance standards to keep data safe. The data that many federal agencies work with on a daily basis is highly sensitive – including social Social Security numbers, financial information and similar records. In order to mitigate data breaches, federal agencies must comply with a bevy of government regulations when storing and working with that data.

Failure to comply with these growing regulations can lead to expensive fines and other penalties. As new regulations are introduced, compliance becomes more time-consuming and complicated, which is why many companies outsource their data needs.

Staffing Concerns

As mentioned above, finding the staff to manage a big data initiative can be a tall order. A recent study found that agencies without big data strategies cited the lack of staff resources as a main factor. A third of government officials interviewed in the study said it was a challenge to find experts with the necessary experience, especially data analysts, data scientists, engineers and data architects.

One option to combat staffing concerns is to use a third party vendor, like QTS, to manage data center needs, whether on-site, collocated or cloud based. These vendors have highly skilled staff members who can manage critical infrastructure, giving agencies the freedom to focus on their core tasks.

For more information on QTS’ Federal Solutions, click here. You can also call us toll free at 877.QTS.DATA or follow us on Twitter @DataCenters_QTS.