The “NIST Cloud and Big Data Workshop” held January 15-17, 2013 at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg Maryland brought together leaders and innovators from industry, academia, and government. The session opened with keynoter Patrick Gallagher discussing issues involving both Cloud Computing and Big Data. Gallagher is Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and also serves as the Director for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Cloud Computing is defined as collecting and delivering data via remote servers accessed through the internet and Big Data is defined as working with a collection of data sets so large and complex that it is difficult to process the data using present methods. As Gallagher explained, it is essential to integrate both not as separate entities but discuss where Cloud Computing intersects with Big Data so that the solutions can advance both in the right direction to meet future requirements. According to Gallagher, both Cloud Computing and Big Data can open the window of opportunity but only if we work together and share solutions.
Since Cloud Computing and Big Data are evolving programs, structured dialogue needs to take place on privacy issues, how to successfully converge cloud computing and big data, examine how the U.S. government Cloud Computing Roadmap is progressing, look at the standards needed internationally, realize the importance of use case discussions, and listen to ideas on how to develop deployment models.
In other discussions on Cloud Computing, the Defense Department is actively examining privacy and security issues to see how DOD, other government agencies, and private industry can effectively shift toward cloud computing. Robert Carey, Department of Defense Principal Deputy Chief for CIO reported at another meeting held on January 14th, that the cloud is secure but only for certain types of data. The biggest problem however is how to accomplish cloud computing goals at the same time that DOD is facing budget constraints.
At this time, Carey explained, there are a number of DOD pilot programs going on to evaluate all of the issues involved in cloud computing but these issues are not always easy to address. “The idea of concentrating on securing data rather than on an entire network is a big shift in thinking for an agency like DOD, according to Cary.”
At a the House Veterans Committee hearing held on Capitol Hill on January 17th, security issues were brought up by Joel C. Willemssen, Managing Director for Information Technology for the Government Accountability Office.
He reported on the risks involved with Cloud Computing. “The risks include dependence on security practices and concerns related to sharing computing resources. However, this risk may vary based on the cloud deployment model used. Private clouds may have a lower threat exposure than public clouds, but it will require an examination of the specific security controls in place for the cloud’s implementation in order to evaluate this risk.”