How EMC is giving Lotus F1 a Big Data edge

For several years, businesses around the world have been implementing big data analytics to speed up their processes and improve productivity. Few have taken it as far as the Lotus F1 team.

Simplifying Big Data

The Lotus F1 team recently made the move to EMC’s V-Blocks server architecture, allowing them to use data in more simple and innovative ways. Anthony Smith, Lotus F1’s converged infrastructure specialist, explains: “We’ve had the V-blocks around 18 months now. We were using a set of different hardware from various vendors before. This has been one of the big changes for us.” Switching to one provider for everything helped to simplify the process. “We have one provider and one system that we know works together. We keep it as simple as possible so we have one company to contact if something goes wrong.”

Custom analytics

Using EMC tools has enabled the team to collect vast amounts of data and make significant changes and adjustments to their factory and processes.

“All the time the car runs we’re gathering data from it. It’s constantly streaming, even when it’s just in the garage. It’s producing around 60GB of data per weekend,” he said.

“Then we’re using that to analyse and refine the performance, and find improvements. We’re working to improve our competitiveness through the data.”

Testing and climate challenges

Given new limitations on the amount of real-world tests the team can do, the use of data analytics has become even more important in today’s racing environment.

“We’re not allowed to test during the year. We do three tests at the beginning of the year – that’s three weeks of testing – and then during the year we have four days in total throughout the year that we can test the car that isn’t a race weekend,” he said.

“This is why the simulation and the data analysis is so important because we can’t just decide to test it on the circuit. There are so many possibilities for the car and we’ve got to turn up at the circuit and pretty much know exactly how it’s going to be and what’s going to happen.”

The converged future

Moving forward, Smith wants to continue the team’s move towards a hyper converged infrastructure.

“We’re looking at whatever we can get our hands on. We’ve seen the whole virtualisation hybrid cloud infrastructure develop over the last few years and that’s helped us massively,” he said.

“We’re looking towards boosting our resilience. Looking at X-Racks VSpex Blue, hyper converged, the next step on.”

“If we can get more performance for less size, weight and power on the track that’s another advantage for us.”

To find out more you can read the full article on V3.co.uk

Study reveals: A highly demanding ‘Information Generation’

Are today’s youth our most demanding customers? We worked with Opinium to investigate and speak with 18-24 year olds in the UK & Ireland. What was unearthed was a lack of brand loyalty when providers can’t meet their needs.

Born in the era of the internet, todays ‘Information Generation’ is very much immersed in social media and the use of ‘smart’ phones. In our study they have shown demanding requirements over their suppliers across retail, financial services and technology, media and entertainment sectors. Control over personal data is their biggest concern: 54% of respondents suggest they’d switch providers if their current one didn’t give them control over their personal data.

Out of all three sectors surveyed, the financial services industry seems to face the greatest pressure when it comes to customer loyalty: 58% of 18-24 year olds would be willing to switch to a competitor if their current provider didn’t give them control over their personal data, marginally more than those that would switch if their provider suffered a data breach (53%), or didn’t provide mobile services e.g. via an App (40%).

Despite slightly stronger customer loyalty in the retail and technology, media and entertainment sector, the results still show a lack of loyalty to any one provider who can’t cater to the needs of today’s Information Generation. 57% in retail and 51% in tech, media and entertainment would switch suppliers, if their current provider didn’t give them control over their personal data. Moreover, 53% in retail would switch if their provider suffers a data breach compared with 47% in tech, media and entertainment.

The pressure facing businesses to cater for these consumers is becoming clear but how are they fairing in meeting those needs? In our next blog post we will a closer look at business leaders across 18 countries to find out how they are coping with fulfilling these demands.

How can we convince patients their data is safe?

Following news of patient data being sold, James Norman, UK Public Sector CIO, EMC, considers what’s required to change the perception of data use in healthcare.

This week’s news that medical records have been sold following data capture when claiming insurance or purchasing holidays or medical products is concerning to anyone who wants more transparency as to how their data is going to used. Equally, the news that NHS patient details have been sold after prescriptions were purchased online is hugely damaging to the data discussion in the healthcare sector. The reality is that there are huge opportunities for improving patient care and driving efficiencies in healthcare through better use of data, but stories such as these are damaging patient confidence and their likelihood to share data in the future.

Within the healthcare sector, data can be used to create a more predictive and personalised healthcare model; contributing significantly to medical research and a more positive patient experience.

Ultimately this can shift the NHS from an illness to a wellness model.

Informatics can now identify the risk factors that put the patient at high risk of developing a condition and help tackle it before it strikes. Monitoring patients using data can also dramatically improve care management. A recent report from EMC and Volterra highlighted the need for acceleration in the uptake of data analytics techniques and technologies to drive £16bn or more in efficiency savings to plug the NHS funding gap.

With all these potential benefits available to the healthcare sector, it’s crucial the discussion isn’t shut down before it’s even begun. It’s essential consumers understand how data can be used to benefit them and the wider population, rather than feeling as though their data is being used solely to aid sales and increase insurance premiums. As part of this, it’s crucial the government scrutinise legislation to ensure patient data is protected and to ensure a greater transparency around how data is being used in healthcare. The major challenge sits in providing proof points for data, leading to greater good and encouraging best practice across the entire healthcare sector.

The future of healthcare will require the right people to have access to patient’s data, with their consent, allowing them to provide appropriate care based on a full understanding of the patient’s history. This can drive real change in how we are able to predict and tackle health problems across the population, particularly around chronic diseases, and drive an efficient and effective health service in the UK.

Until that point, it’s down to the government and industry to tackle the data challenge together and convince patients that giving access to some of their personal data will be beneficial to the health of the nation and, ultimately, their own.

 

Joining (X-) Forces to Tackle the UK IT Skills Shortage

The UK needs to tackle its digital skills shortage in order to prevent falling behind in new digital era; that much was clear from the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee report released this week. The lack of trained IT professionals is becoming a major threat, not just for our industry but also impacting corporate economic recovery and growth within the UK.

To tackle this shortage, EMC has teamed up with social enterprise X-Forces, to provide free training to up to 20 military leavers. These are typically highly motivated individuals with very specialist technical skills, so they have a lot to offer in an industry with growing skills shortages. Backed by an investment of £250,000, this military leavers program will target all types of military personnel with leadership and technical backgrounds.

Over the course of seven weeks and with support from EMC staff, the leavers will be given lab and online training covering IT architecture and design, storage solutions, data protection and more. This will equip the participants with the necessary skills to perform in a range of different roles – either at EMC or within a company from our channel partner networks. For trainees who’d like to start their own business, X-Forces will provide funding and guidance to get them started. On top of that, mentoring support from ex-military staff will be available to the trainees at all times.

We’re really excited about this initiative, and as Ren Kapur, CEO and Founder of X-Forces, explains, it’s ground-breaking for two reasons: “Firstly it bridges the gap and delivers fit-for-purpose expertise into those vital areas where skills shortages will impact corporate and national economic recovery and growth if they are not filled.

And secondly, of equal importance, it recognises the human nature of the solution, and delivers hope, opportunity and support to this cadre of highly capable people, ensuring that they can aspire to fulfilling and sustainable second careers.

This route will really appeal to technical personnel leaving the Services and from the Forces’ community and give them an excellent opportunity to add real value to the commercial sector.”

To find out more about our partnership with X-Forces, take a look here.

Data Protection Day – Taking Data Protection Seriously

We recently saw 9th annual international Data Protection Day, a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of protecting personal data. Raising awareness and vigilance in is key amongst both businesses and individuals as 2014 not only saw a record number of data breaches, with some very high profile targets such as the Sony hacks, but was also rife with controversy concerning who has access to our data following a range of snooping revelations.

Results from our global data protection index study at the end of last year showed that businesses in the UK are losing out on £10.5 billion per year due to downtime and data-loss, with only 53% acknowledging data protection as being critical to the success of the business and only 22% fully confident they could recover systems and data today from all platforms. This is more alarming considering that two-thirds of organisations suffered from either unplanned systems downtime or data loss over the past year, with the average data-loss being equivalent to about 7 million e-mails.

EMC_Data_Country_UK

Of course, data protection requires time and investment, and businesses can’t protect everything. However, this just makes it even more important as it becomes an issue of managing risk and data, increasing the need for leadership and accountability, and the need for businesses to take it seriously.

And it’s not just businesses that need to take care.

For example, did you know how easy it is for hackers to access private information using free public Wi-Fi networks? In an experiment, it took a security expert just minutes to access e-mail and bank accounts details, and the ability to track people’s movements. There are some very interesting technologies coming out to help with security, such as biometric keyboards that can recognise the typing patterns of individual users, but these technologies aren’t yet widely available, and people still need to be vigilant when it comes to their data and devices.

Protecting information for Individuals and businesses is becoming an ever increasing priority – and this year’s data protection day was a clear reminder of the need to remain vigilant. The time for a ‘wait and see’ policy has certainly passed and businesses need to protect themselves now in order to make sure they’re not the next newsworthy target. Consumers also have a responsibility to protect themselves too. It’s about time we all united to make data protection a clear priority this year.

A Year of Financial Uncertainty

Said Tabet, Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy lead at EMC asks, as we head into 2015, how can financial institutions reduce their risk?

Despite news that employment figures are still increasing, UK retail spend has bounced back and broader trends such as house sales continue to maintain a steady rhythm, so it may appear externally that the market is more stable than it has been for a number of years. Though this is true to an extent, stress tests from last month, which a number of UK institutions failed or came close to failing, along with the government targeting banks in the recent Autumn Statement, it’s safe to say that we’re not on even ground yet.

As we head into 2015, financial organisations need to get their ships in order and, in my opinion, this all centres around data and understanding risk. Here are my key themes for consideration as we go into next year:

  • Data: How much, at what cost and what quality?
    Digital pound - in textFinancial institutions of all sizes are looking to consume more and more data. While this is a general trend with ‘big data’, the use of “smart data” especially will be crucial in 2015. Essentially this takes into account that you need the right data at the right time (context) and relevant data (semantics) that is secure in order to succeed. Improving the productivity and performance of financial products will require discipline at the data level and we are moving more and more towards granular data. Financial institutions must be prepared for this and have measures in place to store, access and understand their data, in real-time.
  • Risk-based approach, still the way to go?
    Banks will continue to adopt a risk-based approach but as the markets start to improve, new innovations push the boundaries and new services emerge, we are going to see more and more of a balanced approach. This is all with the goal to satisfy shareholder requirements while being compliant. In a way, this model will help build a new view of compliance costs as an investment for the future of business. This is also emphasised by the need to develop and transform business processes. Loss of productivity can be measured through big data analytics and the ability to have near real-time relevant data and metadata will support this.
  • Risk will be managed at all levels and integrated with key data and metadata
    Risk is no longer about reporting. Risk management intelligence will be supported with better integration globally, particularly within large firms. The market as a whole is trying to better understand risk and prepare for potential pitfalls in the future, as demonstrated by recent stress tests. What’s concerning is that UK institutions are still falling short of industry expectations and measures, something which must be tackled, and quickly. There is a role for technology here, in ensuring that processes and access are allocated effectively.

2015 has the potential to be a crossroads for the UK economy. With likely changes in interest rates, along with possible changes in government, financial institutions need to be prepared for whatever the future may hold. Now is the time to put in place measures to ensure risk and data are prioritised.

 

 

Restoring confidence in UK data protection technology is vital

Last week, EMC launched its UK findings of their global Data Protection Index study at a media roundtable event on the 38th floor of the Gherkin. It was revealed that in the UK, £10.5 billion was lost per year due to downtime and data loss. In addition, 67% of organisations reported they had suffered disruption, up from 78% since the last study in 2011, while the average disruption causes 700GB of data loss – a significant amount that cannot be ignored.

Whilst up in the clouds, Chris Ratcliffe, SVP EMC Advanced Software Division, EMC and Kelly Brown, Senior Director DPAD Marketing Global, EMC discussed the effect on businesses of not having a secure data protection strategy in place. The study found that although, 25 hours was lost on average in the last year due to unplanned downtime, organisations are still spending less of their budget on recovery and data protection.

Data Protection Index

“If you don’t have a protection strategy in place, you may find that you don’t have the data you want to run things like analytics, business intelligence and Big Data”, says Kelly Brown. “IT can’t always be ‘sexy’; sometimes it has to focus on the slightly more practical side of what technology can do, in order to support the business, protect it from data loss and open up new revenue opportunities.”

The study looked at 24 different countries around the world and ranked them in order of their maturity with regards to data protection capabilities. The UK features very much in the middle of the rank, lagging behind the USA, China and the Netherlands.

John Bland, MD UK Sales at SCC concluded by looking at the emotional effect and executive behavior patterns behind data protection. He focused on the CIO agenda and explained that because data protection has become so integrated with other elements on the board agenda, the question becomes how you roll it into one business conversation.  “The CIO is becoming increasingly marginalized in the organisation as few people want to take the responsibility of ‘owning’ the company’s data” said Bland. “It won’t be long before Chief Digital Officers and the marketing teams are spending more on IT than their own IT department, without understanding the need to protect the data they are trying to work with.”

The rise in popularity of the cloud as a storage device and the use of mobile devices by company employees, mean data protection and back up is as big of an issue today as it ever was. The risk becomes greater as companies generate and store more and more data, and without a backup solution in place, businesses could be in real trouble should problems arise.

The audience heard how UK businesses need to increase their confidence in their own systems, but this can be tricky if there are delays to hardware upgrades, resulting in infrastructure that is more likely to fail. It’s startling that in this era, 78% of UK organisations are not confident that they can fully recover after a disruption. As budgets become tighter and tighter, delays in refreshing technology both at a hardware and software layer, only serves to further expose the risk of data loss.

Barely a day goes by without hacking and cybercrime filling the news agenda, so businesses are starting to invest in strategies and perimeters that can be put in place for protection. The same emphasis needs to be put into backup solutions so that if an attack were to break the perimeter, the company would have the effective data protection technologies in position to avoid too much loose of data or information.

Unfortunately the reality is probably more extreme than the results suggest, and whilst the number of data loss incidents is decreasing overall from 2011, the volume of data loss is growing exponentially and action needs to be taken quickly before the situation gets out of control.

How much data do people actually give away?

James Petter, Vice President and Country Manager for the UK and Ireland, EMC shares his thoughts on digital privacy. JP at Techmanifesto - square

2014 is stacking up to be a seminal year in online privacy. Fuelled by the debate in to government and business access to citizen information, the Information Commissioner’s Office recently revealed a 7.1 percent increase in the number of data complaints made between 2013 and 2014. It has also been the year that Edward Snowden urged people to upgrade their security measures in order to protect confidentiality; and earlier this year, the introduction of the “right to be forgotten” ruling stated that Google must delete inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant data from its search results when a member of the public requests it.

I recently submitted evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee as part of its inquiry into social media data and real time analytics. As part of this, I discussed the topic of privacy and how I believe the debate has evolved. We recently commissioned some research to better understand consumer perception around privacy and the importance of protecting individuals against the benefits of convenient online commerce and social media. The study found that there was a global divergence of views around transparency, fairness, safe online behaviour and trustworthy use of personal data. In the UK specifically, 59 percent of respondents felt that they have less privacy now, compared to a year ago, whilst 52 percent reported that they have experienced a data breach.

The study suggests that people want the convenience and benefits of this fast moving technological world we live in, but without sacrificing privacy. Three distinct, yet intertwined privacy paradoxes emerged, each with powerful implications for consumers, businesses and technology providers as they consider the issue of digital privacy.

Paradox One: “We want it all”

Although people are using digital technology more frequently and place considerable value on the benefits offered, few say they are willing to trade their privacy for these benefits. Consumers in the UK were among the least willing (12th out of 15 countries) to sacrifice privacy for the benefits and convenience offered by technology, while people in India and China were much more inclined to share information in exchange for useful technology and services.

Paradox Two: “Take no Action”

While more than half of consumers have experienced a data breach where their privacy was potentially compromised, they are not taking basic measures to protect their information, such as changing passwords regularly and using password protection on mobile devices. Most believe it is the responsibility of the government, not the individual, to protect consumers’ privacy through the creation of laws and regulations. Further to this, there is a widespread lack of confidence in the organisations charged with protecting privacy, whether they are businesses or governments. With this pervasive mistrust in the organisations that are handling consumer data, there is a need for these institutions to take steps to improve internal processes and public perception around what they’re doing to protect privacy.

Paradox Three: “Social Sharing”

It is not new news that social media has exploded in popularity over the last few years and an overwhelming majority of consumers are actively sharing information via social media channels. More than 400 million Tweets were shared daily in 2012 and more than one billion share personal information on Facebook. 84 percent of consumers claim they don’t like anyone knowing anything about them or their habits, unless they make a decision themselves to share that information.

For consumers, the realisation that everyone is vulnerable hopefully reinforces the importance of increasing their awareness of privacy issues and to take personal action to protect their own privacy. For businesses, the imperative is to understand how varied customer perception is. Consumers are likely to engage in more online activities with institutions that demonstrate greater privacy protections – something that businesses and governments must not ignore. However, consumers need to also understand that using citizen data isn’t immediately insidious. The Office for National Statistics makes use of hundreds of data sets to guide and inform government decision making, and is planning to expand this in the future. Big data automates, creates efficiencies and offers huge potential to deliver significant economic and social benefits, such as higher growth, the next generation of public services, and billions in government efficiency savings.

All members of society – technologists, government, and citizens – can, and should, be more bullish about making this positive case for big data and analytics. All of us should do everything possible to increase levels of awareness and understanding in order to realise these benefits while continuing to protect individual rights and privacy. The rise in cloud computing and the use of big data to address society’s most urgent challenges will be accelerated with the protection of information assets and trust in the cloud. The winners and losers will be determined by those that demonstrate the most relevant and practical privacy practices to ensure the safety of data. It’s great to see that this issue is being considered by government, but it’s down to all of us to protect our privacy.

Redefine your business – EMC Forum UK just two months away

Are you ready? EMC Forum UK is back to help redefine your business! In just two months’ time on the 21st of October we will be hitting Westminster Park Plaza Hotel for a day of cloud insights, practical advice, and IT strategy and storage talk. Of course there will be plenty of opportunity to meet and catch up with peers too.

The 2013 event was a great success, so we’re looking forward to seeing many of last year’s attendees again, and to welcoming some new faces. We’ve also pulled out a few of our favourite tweets from last year below.

EMC forum is free to attend, and especially designed for IT professionals looking to get up to speed with everything that is going on in the world of cloud, with plenty of opportunity to engage with technical experts and connect with EMC partners. In other words, it’s a must-attend event for anybody looking to redefine their IT strategy and help transform their business with the latest industry knowledge, best-practices and insights.

vic-bhagat-bwYou can look forward to a keynote from Vic Bhagat, the Executive Vice President of Corporate Services and global CIO EMC – keep your eyes peeled on @EMCUKI for updates on what he will be covering – and dozens of sessions ranging from how to redefine your big data strategy to a look at what’s hot and new in 2014. Explore the agenda here, and register for free!

To get the latest updates on EMC Forums follow @EMCForum on Twitter or take a look at the Facebook page for news and images from the global events. You can also join in the conversation on Twitter using #EMCForum.

 

How to keep safe online?

With the New York Times reporting last week that a ring of Russian criminals acquired 1.2 billion username and password combinations, as well as credentials for over 500 million email addresses, there has never been a more appropriate time to ensure you are not putting yourself at risk online.

On top of that, a recent global study by EMC showed that more than half (52%) of UK respondents reported experiencing a data breach (email account hacked; mobile device lost or stolen; social media account hacked), with many still not taking measures to protect themselves such as changing passwords regularly (67%), customising privacy settings (37%) and password-protecting mobile devices (43%).

This needs to change! And it can – it doesn’t take much effort to ensure you stay safe online. Martin Brown, EMC Country Manager in Scotland outlines his top tips for staying ahead of cyber criminals:

  1. Don’t link everything to the same account – Use multiple email accounts to keep your ‘business’ transactions such as banking and online payments separate from your Facebook, Twitter and other social transactions. 
  2. Use longer, complicated passwords – Better still use phrases. Too many of us are guilty of using the same password for everything – just don’t do it!
  3. Keep a clean machine – Having the latest operating system, software, web browsers, anti-virus protection and apps is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  4. Keep personal information personal – Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email and don’t respond to email solicitations for this information. If you’re unsure if a request is legitimate, verify it by contacting the company directly by using information provided on an account statement, not information provided in the email.
  5. Pay attention to URLs – Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (eg .com versus .net).
  6. When in doubt, throw it out – Links in emails, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete.
  7. Think before you act – Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately – if it sounds too good to be true, it is!
  8. Pay with credit card – Only purchase online via stores that accept credit cards, and also ensure the shop has a physical address, preferably UK-based.
  9. Be wary of public networks – It sounds obvious, but don’t carry out financial transactions over a public network – use one you know to be secure. So that rules out internet cafes, hotel receptions, airport kiosks and the like.
  10. Don’t let your guard down on Facebook – Or any other social networks for that matter. Make sure you set up your security settings correctly, and don’t give away confidential information through your posts and messages!