EMC Documentum and Syncplicity Fuel Formula One
Information Management enthusiasts, start your engines!

EMC’s Documentum and Syncplicity will be among the technologies used to turbocharge the Lotus Formula One (F1) team in its quest to win the World championship in 2015.

Sound like a bunch of marketing jive? That’s because it is. BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s not real, OR that there won’t be some interesting applications of Content Management technology used to transform the way that Lotus F1 race cars are designed and engineered to maximize engine power and aerodynamics while optimizing fuel consumption.

EMC and the Lotus F1 have formally announced that they are partnering to create the information technology backbone necessary to underpin the Team’s aspirations for a World Championship in 2015.

The technologies involved? EMC IIG’s Syncplicity, EMC Documentum’s Information Rights Management (IRM) and a whole host of Storage and Cloud technologies that we won’t get into. (However, we will get into detail on the ECM technologies later.) Big Data will also come into play. And though we haven’t heard anyone talking about it yet, it’s hard to believe that Fast Data won’t play a role too.

First A Bit of Backstory

F1 enthusiasts, you already know that Formula One cars are sexy. Feel free to skip this section and go straight to the tech stuff.

For the rest of us, here’s the skinny. Formula One (F1) cars are the fastest and most expensive, multi-turn circuit-racing cars in the world. A top F1 team has a 470 million dollar budget for 2013. Each team spends as much as US$ 100 million on research and development of the chassis and another 100 million for engine R&D. These aren’t production cars. They’re handmade. Think of all the Images, Data, Design Documents and CAD drawings involved. (Starting to get an idea where the unstructured content part comes in?)

F1 teams are expected to spend another US$ 15 million in testing. And that’s for just one car.

Not your kind of sexy? Picture the drivers -- super fit, athletic, young men who are millionaires. They’re hot enough for a calendar.  And if guys aren’t your thing, the races actually have scantily clad “pit girls” that make Hooters girls look like nuns. We don’t know that Syncplicity will be used to store images like these.

But we digress. Break’s over. Back to content, data and cars.

It Takes Data To Start These Cars & To Revolutionize Their Performance

Without data these cars won’t even start. We kid you not. And once an F1 car does start, its complex network of more than 200 sensors can generate in excess of 25 megabytes of data per lap. There are data points taken on how far the gas pedal goes down during every millisecond of the race, data that reveals every twitch or tweak of a driver’s hand, in what direction his head is turns at any point in time ... We could keep going.

And if there’s a failure, the data gathered, stored and analyzed can identify where the failure occurred, all the way down to not just the bolt, but to who (what individual) manufactured the bolt.

This data has stories to tell. Content (or call it Information) when properly managed, is key to making those stories accurate, accessible and useful.

And where do stories come from? Huge volumes of information, not only from the sensors, but also from the CAD drawings used when building these cars. (Note, a huge volume of content, and a large number of versions, are also generated while designing, building, testing, these cars. We’re talking down to the component level.)

The Right Information, At The Right Time, In The Right Hands Tells A Vital Story

And while some of those files might get stored in Lotus’ data center in Enstone, many will be stored on Syncplicity’s cloud. The team that can access the right information, at the right time, in the right place (and this might mean trackside) will have a competitive advantage. The plan is for EMC and partner technologies to be able to produce information and insights in near real time, whether the race is in Monaco, Dubai, Austin Texas, Shanghai, Montreal, Australia, India, Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain ... you get the idea.

“Syncplicity will allow Lotus F1 to have the right information at the right time on any device so that the F1 Team can securely sync and share files when it matters the most," says Jeetu Patel, General Manager of the Syncplicity Business Unit at EMC.

Protecting Critical, Highly Secretive Information Is A Must

It’s almost needless to say that protecting the Lotus F1 team’s information will be key, especially when somewhere around US$ 470 million is invested in winning. Who might want to access it? Think hackers, saboteurs, cheaters and the kinds of villains you might see in a James Bond film.

Well the bad guys aren’t going to have a chance if the Lotus F1 and EMC plan works; and there’s no reason to suspect that it won’t. The strategy is to leverage Documentum Information Rights Management (IRM) technology which tracks and protects documents, messages and attachments while in transit, at rest and after delivery. The solution is trusted by many of the world’s leading corporations.

"There’s no need for (the Lotus F1 team) to lose any sleep over this issue," says Rohit Ghai, EMC IIG’s SVP Products & Solutions, IIG, EMC.

“Documentum IRM can give them peace of mind,” he adds. “ If sensitive information finds its way into unintended hands as it often does, this solution can protect unauthorized access and track all attempts to do so."

Can Big Data and Fast Data Be Key To A Win?

Absolutely, says an F1 intimate whose name we can’t use. “Decisions on the track are made in milliseconds,” he explains. He adds that F1 races are all about data, “Every team uses it to make crucial decisions.”

And though this is nothing new, the ability to cost-effectively and efficiently process the volumes, varieties, variabilities and velocities of data available, and to analyze and leverage insights in real time, will be game-changing.

By 2015 the Lotus F1 Team and EMC might just give birth to a new era of data-driven driving.