How would you Manage EMC’s Global University Research Portfolio?

by Steve Todd

How would you Manage EMC’s Global University Research Portfolio?

Today I attended EMC’s 2nd Annual University Day in Santa Clara, California.  A large number of schools were represented from all over the United States, including:

  • UC San Diego
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • Northeastern University
  • Minnesota
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Case Western
  • Florida International University
  • University of Utah
  • Harvard
  • University of Rochester
  • Stony Brook University
  • Princeton University

The agenda for the day included discussions on challenging high-tech issues in

next generation data centers, including new developments in solid state storage. EMC Distinguished Engineer Jeroen VanRotterdam led an interesting dialogue examining the current state of relationships between Industry and Academia.

Greg Ganger, CMU Professor and Director of the Parallel Data Lab, gave the Academic

Keynote during the afternoon session. His keynote was followed by the annual poster session, in which nine students competed for first prize.

For this post, however, I’d like to summarize a discussion I led just before lunch, in

which I asked the students the following question:

“How would you manage EMC’s global university research portfolio?”

Their answer was loud and clear: “We don’t know!” I responded that the answer was a fair one; it’s a hard problem to solve. I then shared our company’s approach of using EMC’s own analytic products (e.g. Pivotal/Greenplum) to perform global analytics across all academic research partners.

In order to highlight the global span and scope of our research initiatives, I shared the following map:


This map is dynamically generated. While it doesn’t represent every university research partnership EMC has across the globe, it’s pretty close.  The map is the result of nearly two years of collaboration across all of the countries that register their research engagements. The larger the circle, the more activity is being reported from the region.

What types of analysis can be run against a database containing research activities? During my talk I described the current reports enabled by our analytics framework:

  • A visualization of the “types” of research currently active in our portfolio (e.g. solid state storage, analytics, etc).
  • A visualization of the “types” of research by region (e.g. where in the world do we research compression technology?)
  • Who are EMC’s key researchers in any given region?
  • Which researchers are the best at transferring knowledge out of their region?
  • For any given EMC researcher, what type(s) of research do they conduct?
  • What is the complete list of EMC employees, per region, that are involved in any form of university research?
  • How can global EMC employees advance their own ideas by locating relevant university research?
  • How do we augment university research with other external employee connections (e.g. programmatically leverage their Twitter connections)

The talk was well-received. The faculty and students that attended got a good feel for the framework that EMC uses to impact our own business by expanding our knowledge with local university partners.

In future posts I will dive in many of the items above in more detail to specifically describe how analytics are leveraged to improve EMC’s university research results.

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