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Big Data and the Cloud: What's the Link?

Data & Relationship ManagementCloud Computing

Cloud LogoDuring the month of October, join TechSoup Canada and the TechSoup Network for our Cloud Computing Worldwide campaign. Check back throughout the month for blog posts, webinars, and dispatches from around the world on cloud computing for nonprofits, NGOs, and public libraries.

This post was authored by Keisha Taylor, from TechSoup's Guidestar International office in London. 

The Internet has proven an invaluable way to access and create content (which becomes part of big data). However, it now widely recognized as a vital for storing such data as well (in the cloud).  

According to Andrew Kantor, technology writer of USA Today:

We're not only a more mobile society, but we're also an almost entirely information-driven one. Data are everything - names, addresses, documents, images, music, video - and we feel the need to take it with us.

Big Data and the Cloud Define Future Technology

Big data and the cloud will define future technology. Should the infrastructure needed to support them become more widely available, the two will both develop and converge even more.

In a post written for the Guardian, Guy Clapperton says that

If cloud computing is going to be as ubiquitous as some of the analysts and commentators believe, then the future is going to be very different from previous projections.

Professor Peter Cochrane sees the cloud as becoming universal.

We are moving from a world of you and I online to everything online... We're talking about all vehicles, all items you purchase, being part of the cloud.

He says that this goes beyond recording locations of materials to the use of nanosensors. The communications industry is also looking towards the cloud for services like video calling, conferencing, and instant messaging.

How Does Big Data Intersect with the Cloud?

Kellogg says that big data intersects with cloud because the problems encountered in running cloud services are the same confronted by those dealing with big data. Both are influencing the way computing will develop. Indeed one can say that some of the same companies providing cloud services are also investing in processing and analyzing big data. According to McKinsey and Company:

In most industries, established competitors and new entrants alike will leverage data-driven strategies to innovate, compete, and capture value from deep and up to real time information.

Such data may increasingly be stored in the cloud.

Reconciling Cloud Data with Reality

Clapperton notes that the multinational nature of the cloud is a strong point. However, he also recognizes that every country has different legal frameworks around information, privacy, and cybercrime. These issues are yet to be reconciled. Management of cloud services is also an issue and so is insufficient bandwidth to use them.

Privacy concerns persist with the use of the cloud. However, one cannot deny that individuals, companies, and governments can lose data because of human error or insufficient security measures. This includes throwing sensitive documents in the trash, losing USB flash drives, and PCs being hacked. We should also not forget that someone can choose to leak data as well. On the other hand, data portability is important and so is understanding what happens if your data is lost.

As civil society organizations investigate the use of cloud services they should explore the connection between such use and the data-oriented future. Doing so will help them to informatively and appropriately use cloud services. It will also facilitate the use of data in the cloud for our work where applicable.