Army finds its own way to build a big data system

Published October 31, 2013   |   
Rutrell Yasin

The Army is harnessing big data to help commanders answer questions that were previously unsolvable by pulling relevant information from thousands of databases into a holistic common operating picture, specifically focused on readiness and resources.

The Army Enterprise Management Decision Support System reaches out across 3,500 different database systems, drawing data from the most relevant systems into one place, according to Lt. Colonel Bobby Saxon, division chief and program director with the Army EMDS Program Office.

So far this analysis is being accomplished without using some of the well-known big data tools such as the Apache Hadoop and Pig platforms, mainly because the Army EMDS Program Office’s environment did not fit into the typical big data scenario, Saxon said.

While a typical organization might have 40 terabytes of data that analysts need to gather to parse and understand, this was not Saxon’s scenario. Instead, the Army needed to put data into one place so senior leadership could make more informed decisions. “So our choices were built around that,” Saxon said, during a presentation Oct. 24 at an FCW Executive Briefing on big data analytics held in Washington, D.C.

A variety of tools have been deployed to connect the data and assemble it so that it can be accessed and viewed via dashboards, including Oracle’s WebLogic Server, identity management, business intelligence and Endeca Discovery software; Composite Software’s data virtualization technology (now a part of Cisco); the Apache Tomcat application server; and Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox Web browsers.

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