Vertica Unify 2021 – Day 2 keynote spotlights a noble cause

Posted July 21, 2021 by Mike Perrow, Senior Product Marketing Writer/Editor

At Vertica Unify 2021, the focus this week has been on the techniques and best practices around data analytics. Naturally. There’s a lot of technology to cover in this space, and we’re delighted to have so many of the best and brightest minds in virtual attendance, helping us deliver, explain, and demonstrate these things.

And, at a conference like this, it’s nice to be reminded that all the technology, the new features announced yesterday for Vertica 11, for instance, has a greater purpose.

Jill Dyché’s presentation of her “Outta the Cage” initiative – to rescue and find homes for abandoned dogs – brought one noble purpose into the spotlight on Day 2 of the conference.

“Obviously, our mission is to save dogs’ lives and get them into happy homes, but the way we do that is changing,” said Dyché. “Data and analytics are playing a part in the improvements in the animal welfare world.” Outta the Cage’s initial efforts involved visiting animal shelters in Southern California and getting dogs at risk for euthanasia out of their kennels and into the play yards. The high-kill shelters were the priority, where dogs were at the greatest risk.

The perils of outdated paper records

While data is saving the lives of shelter animals nation-wide, Dyché noted that “the absence of data is risking lives, as well,” she said. She told the story of a four-year dog, Zuli, who was euthanized a few years ago, despite the interest several people had shown in adopting her. The problem? A traditional paper kennel-card was the sole source of record for this dog, except for a video that got many likes and shares on a social media platform. The shelter started to receive calls about Zuli, but it was too late. The shelter had put the dog to sleep.

“We don’t know why,” said Dyché, “but what we do know is that people intended to help her.” One family was told to return prior to Zuli’s adoption so the match between dog and family could be assessed. Another family told the shelter they would return to adopt her after their vacation. “But none of this data was recorded in Zuli’s record. Had the shelter been more digital, they would have known of the intent to adopt her. But all we had was the kennel card and probably some folklore about her  behavior.”

Nationwide tracking and the move to become data-driven

“It shouldn’t be that hard,” Dyché continued. “Those of us who have brought our companies into the digital age, who are data-driven, understand what it takes to overcome those analog business processes of yesterday. And in our case, those process are about our animals as well.”

Dyché believes that becoming data driven is a growing trend in the animal welfare movement. She showed the virtual audience an online dashboard put together by the Best Friends Animal Society, a nation-wide animal rescue group. The visualization shows how far along states and individual communities are in reaching no-kill status. Currently, “California and Texas euthanize animals in the greatest numbers,” she explained, comprising more than 50% of all animal euthanasia in the US.

Those who are looking to help a shelter reduce its kill rate can use this dashboard and other statistics to locate states that need the most help with animal adoption.

“The good news is that things are getting better,” she said. “There’s increasing recognition that being data-driven is helping the animal welfare world.” At Outta the Cage, “we track data on each dog’s adoptability, and that helps us put each dog’s qualities in the best light.”

You can find Jill Dyché’s complete presentation at roughly minute 26 of the keynote recording for Day 2.

Dell EMC ECS and the growth of unstructured data

Thomas Henson, Senior Business Development Manager for Dell Technologies with Unstructured Data Solutions team for AI/Analytics, explored the ways his team focuses on a business’s “most critical asset: your data.” Just ten years ago, he said, his team worked to explain the value of data and data analytics. “Today, 90% of technology and business leaders incorporate some kind of analytics within one of their projects. That’s a huge movement, and we see it everywhere.”

Henson highlighted several industry examples. Medical teams are building out analytic models helping doctors better understand rare diseases. Restaurants are using models to learn peak hours for customer traffic, including weather models that help predict busy periods, which aids in staffing.

“Some of the largest challenges we see in data architecture is in unstructured data. 80% of today’s data is unstructured, semi-structured, telemetry data, audio and video, transcripts. We need to structure this for future analysis,” which is something Vertica helps with. Henson also noted the growth in object storage, where by 2022 there will be a 300% increase. “That’s why I’m really excited about the partnership between the Dell EMC ECS platform and Vertica, because we’re giving [customers] the power of choice in architecture, the ability to independently scale, to balance storage and compute depending on the data analytics workflow.”

The Cloud Center of Excellence – helping businesses achieve their cloud vision

Martin Jerome, Director of Sales Engineering and Services at Arrow ECS North America – a platinum sponsor for Vertica Unify 2021 – explained that his company processes more than 2.5 billion transaction per year. They’re focused on cloud and security. “62% of security professionals see misconfiguration as one of the biggest security threats out there… The Vertica platform gives insight and digital voice in helping a company prepare for the cloud journey and cloud decisions.”

Jerome’s team uses a “cloud center of excellence (CCoE)” to span various roles in finance, DevOps, security, to inform a business’s cloud migration strategy. Output from the CCoE influences how the infrastructure is deployed and managed, and “establishes the guardrails to drive governance and compliance forward.”

“One of the bigger roles I’ve seen for the CCoE is driving a culture of change for the business. The Vertica platform provides valuable input across all these functions, to ensure the company’s cloud vision is realized.”

The beating heart of our larger company’s architecture

Kicking off this morning’s events was Stephen Murdoch, CEO for Micro Focus – Vertica’s parent company – who noted that “Predictive analytics empowers data disruptors like you to analyze and act with the accuracy needed to trust the automated and proactive outcomes.”

“We’re in the middle of our own digital transformation program,” he said, “and it’s focused on simplifying, standardizing business processes, and putting our customers first… I’m proud to say that Vertica is playing a critical role in these areas, in particular improving our data-driven decision making, to enable us to optimize our customers’ experience.”

Murdoch described Micro Focus’s use of Vertica in its own IT processes: “Our chief data officer Chris Barnard calls Vertica ‘the beating heart of our architecture.’” According to Barnard, Vertica helps the company avoid “the technological cul-de-sac.” With multiple years of data from legacy platforms on hand, Micro Focus has put Vertica to work analyzing market trends, performance, and alignment of resources. “In the past, running our model would take as much as four days. With Vertica, our CDO team reduced that to five minutes.”

If you registered for Unify, you can hear and see the complete keynotes from Day 1 and Day 2, by end of day. Just go to the “agenda” tab on the “join event” page, select the day at top, then scroll to select the segment of your choice.