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CIA Embraces Cloudera Data Hub

As federal cloud provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) readies its commercial cloud service for the CIA, other vendors are lining up to supply the analytical and other tools needed to harness the enormous amounts of data to be stored and analyzed in the emerging spy and other federal clouds.

Among them is new CIA partner Cloudera, which is promoting an enterprise data hub platform that seeks to add a layer of “pervasive analytics” via a unified framework and data formats along with security and administration. Pervasive analytics would be used by federal agencies like the CIA to drive data from analysts to decision makers, Mike Olson, Cloudera’s chief strategy officer, said at a company event in Tysons Corner, Va., this week.

Once the pieces are in place, the data platform is touted as replacing the data silos that have persisted in government agencies while solving security issues which remain a high priority for government cloud users. The result is that “everyone would be working off the same datasets,” Olson explained, while a data governance capability would control who can view which subsets.

Along with AWS and its commercial cloud service, CIA Chief Information Officer Doug Wolfe, announced a partnership with Cloudera “to extend the innovation and push the envelope on a whole range of different solutions.” Added Wolfe, “Having this enterprise data hub up in a month or so on our commercial cloud solution will make [it] a lot more accessible and easily usable by a broader range of the [CIA’s analyst] population.”

The partnerships with AWS and Cloudera also address the spy agency’s requirement for cloud and big data innovation, Wolfe continued, “but that innovation needs to be scalable to serve a range of customers.”

Cloudera investor Intel Corp. has also been working with the big data specialist on Hadoop security “from the silicon up,” according to Steve Orrin, Intel Federal’s chief technologist.

Other Cloudera partners are helping to implement its data hub by providing a range of components designed to securely store, access and analyze structured and, increasingly, mountains of unstructured data. For example, Cloudera partner Digital Reasoning is supplying a “trusted cognitive computing platform” that would leverage, for example, machine learning to bring structure to human language as an intelligence source.

Digital Reasoning CEO Tim Estes cited a current use case in which the company’s platform was used in the banking industry to analyze up to 6 million emails a day to detect hints of insider trading. The company is working with Cloudera and business intelligence software vendor Tableau on a commercial cloud analytics service running on the data hub. Estes said one goal is “changing the aperture of observation” to shift the emphasis from IT administrators to data analysts to decision makers.

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