If data is the new gold in business, how should it be mined?

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As organizations evolve their data centers to study data points collected from millions of devices in real-time, there’s one thing hasn’t changed: the laws of physics. If organizations want to understand how best to move their data and at what speed, they need to first understand their own topology.

“You have to have a thought-through process of where you’re placing certain functions, and what you’re defining as your edge, between the digital and the physical world,” said Steve Madden, senior director of global vertical market development at Equinix Inc.

Madden was a member of a panel that also included Ted Connell, director of global industrial sector business development and solution architect at Intel Corp.; Phu Hoang, founder and chief strategy officer at DataTorrent Inc.; and Flavio Bonomi, founder and chief executive officer of Nebbiolo Technologies Inc. and former Cisco Fellow for Fog Computing. Peter Burris (@plburris), chief research officer and analyst at Wikibon Research, served as panel moderator.

The Western Digital “Taking the Cloud to the Edge With Fog Computing” event, held in San Jose, CA, was covered by theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio. (*Disclosure below.)

Driving business forward with data

One of the panel’s stated objectives was to look at the idea of digital business and how businesses can use data as an asset to differentially drive their business forward. For the panel members, this meant different things, depending on the focus of the organizations they represent.

“Our competitive advantage at Intel is the factory,” said Connell. He explained that Intel’s front-end factories have no people in them; they are fully automated. Intel has implemented what is called industry 4.0, beginning 20 years ago. He explained that one Intel factory can generate a petabyte of data a day, so by necessity, Intel runs big data analytics, including machine learning, on the data.

According to DataTorrent’s Hoang, “Nowadays, it’s not good enough to get insight; you have to get insight in a timely fashion.” He explained that the data used was once batch, offline; today, it has to be continuous 24×7. He added that it’s critical to not lose data and to be able to recover and come back as if nothing happened, with no human intervention, because the flow of data is happening so fast that humans would slow it down.

Lessons learned: adventures in data

“We are learning from what’s going on in the cloud. … It has to be a continuum of computing so you can move the same function, the same container, all the way through,” Bonomi said. Once that end-to-end continuum is established, an organization can decide where to do what.

He gave an example of when his company, Nebbiolo, heard from a big car company about how even the angle of a screwdriver and how it drives the screw can determine how well or how poorly a car body is built. This data, even something that is seemingly small, can save the company a lot of money and improve efficiencies.

Regarding necessary strategic business capabilities for companies, Connell has worked with many clients who haven’t thought through a codified strategy. He said that the customer needs to ask themselves, “What’s my architecture? What’s my stack going to look like? How am I going to push data?”

Understanding what the architecture should look like, by planning out the first five percent of work on the front end, will save 95 percent of work (and heartache) on the back end, Connell said.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Western Digital’s “Taking the Cloud to the Edge with Fog Computing” event. (*Disclosure: Western Digital is a sponsor of segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither Western Digital nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE