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Federal big data spending to increase despite sequester

May. 8, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEVE WATKINS   |   Comments
ISR Conf2014
Deltek Principal Research Analyst Alex Rossino says defense and science agencies will keep the demand for big data on the rise. (Rob Curtis/Staff)

A new forecast predicts that federal spending on big data technologies will start picking up in 2016 and rise steadily through 2018.

The forecast by Alex Rossino, principal research analyst at Deltek, shows a flattening out of federal big data spending for 2014 and 2015 — due largely to the effects of sequestration — but then an uptick beginning in 2016.

“We think that sequestration is going to continue to weigh heavily on all areas of spending. However, this is one of the areas where we see there will be a rise in spending within an overall declining budget,” Rossino told the C4ISR&Networks conference on May 6.

Federal spending on big data-related services and software is projected to climb from $1.55 billion this year to $2.25 billion by 2018. Those figures do not include spending on data storage, which also is projected to climb from $3.44 billion this year to $3.52 billion in 2018.

Combined, the projected federal big data spending will increase from $4.99 billion this year to $5.77 billion in 2018, Rossino said.

Driving the spending increases are the Defense Department and science, technology and research agencies — particularly NASA, the Energy Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

At DoD, spending on big data-related software and services is projected to jump from $670 million in 2013 to $880 million in 2018.

Rossino cited, for example, the Defense Department’s push to integrate data networks across services, such as with the Joint Information Environment (JIE) initiative.

“The liberation of the data [at DoD] and the use of it as a network-dependent force really expands the parameters of the JIE right out to the edge, right to the soldier and the warfighter on the ground,” he said. “That means there are increasing volumes of data moving around, so essentially a cohesive joint environment is creating a big data environment. So DoD is going from the stovepiped environment to what can be called a big data environment.”

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He added that DoD’s push to create more autonomous tools to collect and analyze data from a multitude of platforms and sensors and to provide rapid responses to various situations is another contributing factor.

“We’re moving to a greater use of autonomous, semi-autonomous and even robotic systems, and this translates to an even larger jump in the volume of data that’s on the network ... and demands, again, automation to assist in the processing of effort. So we’ll see a further convergence of electronic warfare and IT. These capabilities in general will essentially create a new kind of warfare that enables rapid, automated responses, and big data is at the heart of this evolution.”

Within DoD, the Army appears to be the largest consumer of big data technologies. Rossino showed a chart that tallies Army spending on big data technologies and services at $698 million from 2010 through 2014. That amount was followed closely by the Defense agencies, which spent $640 million in that period, and then by the Air Force at $467 million. The Navy spent $60 million in that timeframe, according to the chart.

“You should look at these figures as a baseline and expect that there’s a lot more that I haven’t captured,” he said, adding that “the world of big data is so amorphous that it’s hard to determine whether or not you’ve got the whole picture.”

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