Hugh Pickens writes: "Information Week reports that the National Security Agency is taking a cloud computing approach on commodity hardware and "largely" on commercial software in developing a new collaborative intelligence gathering system that will link disparate intelligence databases geographically distributed in data centers around the country. The system will house streaming data, unstructured text, large files, and other forms of intelligence data and analysts will be able to add metadata and tags that, among other things, designate how securely information is to be handled and how widely it gets disseminated. For end users, the system will come with search, discovery, collaboration, correlation, and analysis tools. The intelligence agency is using the Hadoop file system, an implementation of Google's MapReduce parallel processing system, to make it easier to "rapidly reconfigure data" and for Hadoop's ability to scale. The NSA's decision to use cloud computing technologies isn't about cutting costs or seeking innovation for innovation's sake; rather, cloud computing is seen as a way to enable new scenarios and unprecedented scalability. "The object is to do things that were essentially impossible before," says Randy Garrett, director of technology for NSA's integrated intelligence program."