Q&A with: Dell Technologies

Q&A with: Dell Technologies

This content was created by the Data Sharing Coalition, one of the founding partners of the CoE-DSC.

The Data Sharing Coalition supports organisations with realising use cases at scale to exploit value potential from data sharing and helps organisations to create required trust mechanisms to share data trusted and secure. In our blog section ‘Q&A with’, you learn more about our participants and their thoughts, vision and ideas about data sharing. Kenny Pool, Solutions Architect and Digital Transformation expert at Dell Technologies, shares his thoughts.

1. Could you introduce your organisation?

Dell Technologies is a leading global end-to-end technology provider of essential infrastructure for digital business and IT transformation. It serves customers of all sizes across 180 countries, ranging from 99 percent of the Fortune 500 to individual consumers. Dell Technologies includes Dell, Dell EMC, Virtustream, and publicly traded company  Secureworks.

Dell Technologies’ integrated solutions help customers modernise their IT infrastructure, manage and operate in a multi-cloud world, address workforce transformation, and provide critical solutions that keep people and organisations connected, which has proven even more important because of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We help customers accelerate their digital transformations to improve and strengthen business and workforce productivity. With regards to data, Dell Technologies has a lot of experience with data management and data sharing in all kinds of sectors. We design new technologies to enable data management and data sharing. With our extensive portfolio and our commitment to innovation, we offer secure, integrated solutions that extend from the edge to the core to the cloud, and we are at the forefront of the software-defined and cloud native infrastructure era.

Thanks to the Data Sharing Coalition, we stay informed of what is happening in the field of data sharing, in all kinds of sectors, both on a national and international level.

2. To what extent is your organisation involved in data sharing (within and across sectors)?

Dell Technologies mainly co-creates data sharing platforms and solutions in healthcare, science, manufacturing, aviation, and smart city domains. In the healthcare domain, we design collaboration models to share sensitive medical research data. In a digital medical research environment, we create secure research workspaces with distinct security and access permissions and built-in audit trails for all data management processes – thus enabling data sharing under strict data steward governance. Furthermore, for University Medical Centres, Dell Technologies builds secure private cloud operating models within which secure data sharing amongst distinct data owners is facilitated for medical data science practices.

In smart city domains, we are engaged in data sharing projects related to sustainability, mobility, and (cyber) security. Data sharing is necessary to build new mobility platforms and to provide travellers with tips for the most efficient, sustainable traveller’s journey. In a mobility project, we collaborate with the Amsterdam Economic Board, AMdEX, the University of Amsterdam, and various mobility partners such as Air France KLM. Dell Technologies facilitates the data management, so the data can be shared properly and securely. In the port of Rotterdam, we collaborate with five other parties to enable autonomous shipping of all kinds of products. Data management and data sharing are crucial to enable this.

And in the aviation domain, we collaborate with various aviation industry parties including Air France KLM and the society of aeronautical engineering to build, for example, new solutions for predictive maintenance. Each aircraft contains components from multiple suppliers. Each supplier owns its components, data, and represents distinct data owner authorisation. Dell Technologies Federated Analytics in combination with hyper ledger technology (from other parties or from Dell Technologies) offers the foundation for a shared TRUST architecture.  So no matter where data comes from – a laptop, a sensor – Dell Technologies builds a kind of key into its hardware, software, and network that allows the recipient of the data to recognise that the data comes from a secure source.

3. Why is or should sharing data be important for your industry or domain?

There are more and more data sources (e.g. devices, sensors, cameras) that generate data. All these data sources and data volumes can provide added value and new insights for businesses and/or society, but only if these data sources are combined and shared. For example, if you want to improve the car traffic in a city, you need all kinds of data sources related to this traffic. If a parking garage does not want to share its data, you do not know where all the cars are parked. So in order to solve a problem, you need data from different stakeholders to ensure that you have a complete picture. Another example of why combining and sharing data is important, can be found in the healthcare domain. Healthcare used to only look at the medical data of a person with a certain disease, they didn’t look at all the other data that may be very relevant for the development of the disease. For medical research, you need more than just medical data (e.g. the ecosystem, social conditions, climate) to understand why a person is ill and to provide a better analysis.

In the above-mentioned and in many other situations, an algorithm can provide insights. But if you want to develop an algorithm, you need a lot of data to feed and train the algorithm. You also need various kinds of data from different data owners, since this improves the quality of the algorithm. If you want to use a wide diversity of data for your algorithm, you have to combine multiple, diverse data sources. This can be achieved by sharing data.

Dell Technologies provides validated and open data fabrics for centralised and distributed compute environments, enabling new levels of data sharing. This is important, because it will accelerate the development of more advanced data models. Furthermore, there are various new emerging technologies. Throughout all the markets we operate in, we find an increasing demand for implementation of advanced AI, Digital Twin, and Operational Technologies (i.e. edge computing and 5G). As a consequence of rapid adoption of these emerging technologies, according to Gartner, 75% of all data will be created and processed outside a traditional centralised data centre or cloud by 2025. Again, combining this data is important in order to reap the benefits.

4. What are the most promising data sharing developments and trends you see in your sector?

More and more organisations and people realise that data is valuable and that they should handle it more carefully. They start to wonder why they store and process data in a certain place now. Data sharing across private, hybrid, and public cloud boundaries is maturing on both a technological and governance level. We are no longer looking solely at the IT side of data sharing, but also at for example social, financial (what risks do you have to take into account when you share sensitive data), and legal factors (GDPR). We also see that more and more different techniques and technologies for sharing data are being developed.

There have also been developments in cloud technology. Some organisations use three different clouds. New techniques have been developed to be able to combine data in Azure with data in Amazon, for example. In order to function, applications sometimes also need data that resides in different clouds. That is why data must be shared. Apart from being a member of the Data Sharing Coalition, we are also actively involved in the European Gaia-X which focuses on the development of a trusted data and cloud infrastructure that safeguards European values such as data sovereignty. And at national and international level, cloud technology has become a political topic because it enables a new level of data sharing across clouds that requires new data governance models like AMdEX, a neutral body that supervises the sharing of data between organisations. Or Amsterdam Internet Exchange, an objective institution that ensures that internet traffic takes place in a transparent manner. Or iDEAL, that allows you to pay via your own bank in a safe manner. We need a similar institution for data sharing so everyone is ensured that it is well arranged and safe.

Lastly, the scope of data management has changed. In the past, we only had data centres. Now, we also have the cloud and the edge. Data management that used to happen in a data centre, now happens on an even larger scale across all clouds. There is also an explosion of data generation at the edge. The scope of data management is much more voluminous and far-reaching, and we are right in the middle of that. Good data management is becoming even more important.

5. How do you see the future of data sharing, and what steps are you currently taking in that direction?

Data sharing will mature in all dimensions (compute, networking, and storage) of information technology and legislation. We contribute to multiple standardisation and open source initiatives. Dell Technologies developed and build its own federated analytics solution that plays an important role in data sharing. Federated analytics allows for data analytics computing tasks (e.g. to draw conclusions from data) to be performed across multiple decentralised locations, while the data stays at its location. We donated the code to open source communities so they can further evolve the technology and apply it to all industrial verticals. There are more software products and source codes that we have given to the open source community. A recent example is Edge Foundry, a technology that enables you to share data at the edge and collaborate better. Making source code available to open source initiatives is just as important as giving people access to different data sources. Data democracy goes hand in hand with software development democracy.

6. Why are you participating in the Data Sharing Coalition?

Dell Technologies broadens its technology portfolio in line with global, societal, and technological developments. We joined the Data Sharing Coalition to learn from and contribute to relevant societal and technological themes and challenges. We believe Dell Technologies can contribute to the level of technical readiness of data sharing technologies. Furthermore, we invest in multiple cyber related research domains – including quantum computing and hyper ledger – to understand our customers’ needs and challenges with regards to operationalising data sharing on an enterprise-grade scale and in a security compliant manner.

Thanks to the Data Sharing Coalition, we stay informed of what is happening in the field of data sharing, in all kinds of sectors, both on a national and international level. Secondly, we can expand our network. And lastly, we can share everything that we developed ourselves with a large group of parties.


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