The National Security Agency (NSA) is about to turn big data into big intelligence. Last year, the NSA took the lead on building a massive and secure cloud-computing platform for the intelligence community. Big data, the term for turning massive datasets into understandable information, has been on the rise for the last few years. Most companies rely on cloud-computing to host and manage the massive datasets. However, these servers have never been secure enough to be used by the intelligence and defense communities. This is now about to change as the NSA prepares to deploy a massive and secure cloud-computing system designed specifically for special needs of the intelligence community.
The explosion of big data analytics in recent years has lead to a significant increase in demand for data mining and data processing capabilities. But more than that, it is changing how intelligence agencies do business. "For national security, cloud computing represents a paradigm shift in how we construct, execute and disseminate community analytics," says National Security Agency (NSA) Chief Information Officer Lonny Anderson, "Beyond enhancements in data sharing and access, the IC should be able to significantly improve the quality of information it provides to decision makers, all at the same or reduced cost.”
For cleared job seekers or even those looking for get their foot in the door of the intelligence community, the development and deployment of the cloud-computing system hints at the direction of the field and the types of skillsets which are most likely to lead to a job offer. Despite federal budgetary problems that show no signs of abating in the foreseeable future, skills and experience relating to cyber-security and big data continue to be in high demand.
For students looking for get their first job in the field, the advice to maximize their employability is simple: tech up. Math, computer science, statistics, and more applied topics such as programming and database administration are fast becoming the keywords that send resumes to the top of the pile. The more students start acquiring those skills, the more they have a leg-up on their competition. For more experience cleared job seekers: highlight cloud-computing and big data skillsets and experience in resumes to demonstrate to employers that you are ready to tackle the next generation of intelligence problems.
Mike Jones is a researcher, writer, and analyst on national and international security. He lives in the DC area.