Abed Ajraou, Data & Insights Director, Lead Data Scientist and AI, First Utility
1. In the light of your experience, what are the technological trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening with respect to the Data Center space?
The Data Center will make cloud computing easier. With cloud computing, every company is getting a very powerful infrastructure without having the resources to administer it or even having the space to locate the servers.
Furthermore, by using a Big Data platform on top of cloud computing, this technology allows us to leverage our challenge by gathering, processing and analyzing the data in real time.
2. Could you talk about your approach to identifying the right partnership/solutions providers from the lot?
We always first look at where the data will be located in the Data Center or the IAAS (infrastructure-as-a-service) for regulation purposes. The second requirement is to choose the right partner is the SLA proposed. Depending on the criticality of the application, we need to be clear in the potential loss of revenue when a server could go down. The third of requirement is the type of server available; we dedicate attention on the CPU and the GPU because we have to meet scalable calculation with Deep Learning algorithm. The last is obviously the price which could vary extremely from one vendor to another. We have built a value generated framework that helps us build a business case and be clear on how much we can spend in our Data Center cost.
3. Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/ initiatives that you’re currently Overseeing?
We are building an artificial intelligence engine on top of the block chain data. IAAS enables us to build this infrastructure very quickly and we have selected the best Data Center that can meet the fast calculation, the scalable user experience, and the real-time data gathering and processing requirements.
The product we are building is using calculation and processing on top of the block chain data; we are applying mathematical algorithms in order to predict, and give the right advice for our customers.
Data centers will gain more and more attractiveness in the coming years
4. What are some of the points of discussion that go on in your leadership panel? What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?
The first point of discussion was to meet our GDPR requirement. We need a data center that could easily manage the consent data and enable the customers to retrieve their own data. The second point is regarding the scalability of our data product. The data is key for our product and we wanted to have the right storage and the right model to meet the agility of our product roadmap.
5. Can you draw an analogy between your personality traits, hobbies and how they reflect on your leadership strategy?
In our digital world it becomes very hard to get focus; we get easily distracted by email, text, tweet, Linkedin or even Facebook messages. For this reason, I am practicing archery which allows me to concentrate on my shoot and have a couple of hours where I can switch my mind to one single task.
Also, it allows me to have the right spirit. Indeed, in archery, we know that the perfection doesn’t exist. And it’s one of the big mistakes in our day-to-day work to want everything perfect. An archer is every time trying to improve his style and his focus by learning from his mistakes; he knows he cannot do a perfect shot every time. It’s exactly the same in our science, we try to improve the way we are working, and we are building and improving from our mistakes.
6. How do you see the evolution of the Data Center arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?
Data centers will gain more and more attractiveness in the coming years. Indeed, for instance, the Quantum server is an innovation that will enable other possibilities in data processing and fast calculation. We believe Data centers will be accessible to everyone soon and we will need less and less IT competencies in our businesses to run and manage a complete IT infrastructure. Everyone is using a cloud email solution provider and, in the continuity, the data storage and processing need will be more and more democratised.
7. What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?
The first advice I can give is technology watch! This area is evolving so fast that there are incredible opportunities and other ways to tackle a problem. The second will be to have a smart way to read the market. The most successful entrepreneur is the one who can see what others cannot, and detect a very good position in his product by using the best technology available. The best US companies are putting the technology in the centre of their business; the technology is not just an enabler, it’s also a key competitive advantage. And my last advice is to be passionate. If you love the data sphere and you see all the changes happen, you are just having fun and you will embrace with passion this new world.