The ABCs of Data

Students and faculty tackle the world’s rising data challenges.

GUEST COLUMN | by Bruce Tolley

CREDIT Solarflare_Customized_Compute_Diagram_detailThe volume and diversity of digital data has been exploding across industries and organizations of all sizes. C-level executives and employees are tapping into their company’s existing data to enhance business operations, improve customer relationships and enable quicker business decisions to drive and maintain growth. As more digital content enters our data centers, companies are struggling to meet these rising data challenges through quick, comprehensive solutions. Organizations understand the necessity to address the data eruption, but are grappling to find the talent or tools to do so – and are turning to college graduates for help.

If it’s broken, fix it 

As the old adage goes, time is money. For example, in high-frequency trading environments where every nanosecond counts, IT networks must sustain the flurry of buying and selling activity. Existing solutions need to quickly access, process, analyze, and deliver insights in an efficient and timely manner, as it can ultimate make or break a company’s revenue and stock performance.

Data challenges affect consumers as well, touching every generation from teenagers on Twitter to grandparents creating photo albums on social networks. As families and individuals store more content on storage devices, in the cloud or through various web-based storage sites, managing the process of data needs to be addressed as current methods fail to meet the efficiency and speed our lives demand.

Universities and students joining in

The Obama administration recently announced plans for a $200 million National Big Data Research and Development Initiative aimed at sorting through the massive terabytes of information collected by the government to glean new insights. In particular, interest is in partnerships designed to harness the power of Big Data to advance national goals – including in the education sector.

With the Government placing priority on the next generation of data scientists and enhancing the networking technologies that work to solve the challenges that plague our world’s data, universities are simultaneously developing programs to expose students to the very issues that underscore some of the most successful Fortune 500 companies in our world. Programs are being developed and established within today’s educational institutions that provide the technical skills and know-how for the next generation of employees in today’s data-driven world.

Solarflare, a leader in application-intelligent 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) networking software and hardware, recently announced the addition of its 50th member to its existing University Program, joining a list of world-renowned institutions from the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific region. Using their flagship application accelerator, the ApplicationOnload™ Engine (AOE), the University Program provides universities with the technology experience, expertise and best practices to address the growing data needs of today and tomorrow. The Program’s current roster includes such schools as Columbia University, Keio University, Nanyang Technological University, University of Glasgow, Imperial College London and Clemson University.

Through such programs, students build real-time data processing applications with algorithm optimization skills to solve concerns of companies in order to provide speed, latency at a low-cost. At Colombia University, students are working to complete various projects that focus on the algorithms and the use of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) in the financial market. Students and faculty work alongside each other to address the networking, security and data center issues that are key to unlocking data barriers and other latency, speed and price concerns. Programs such as these are unique as they are conducted through a contained and mentoring environment, ultimately preparing them for the complexities of the future in data science. 

The next chapter

In the data world of high speeds, growing content and endless buying and selling power, it’s important to stress the role higher education can play in leveraging networking technologies to solve tomorrow’s data challenges. The same generation that brought us Facebook, Dropbox and other game-changing startups are the next generation of technical experts that can work on solutions to help tackle rising data. Starting at school, students can work with faculty to leverage data and provide scientific breakthroughs and prepare themselves – and the world around us – for a future of endless possibilities, thanks to powers of information.

Bruce Tolley is Vice President of Solutions and Outbound Marketing at Solarflare where he is responsible for solutions, technical marketing and for scale-out networking applications.


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