EMC gives Lotus F1 go-faster stripes as sport reins in technological excesses

By Peter Gothard
07 May 2014 View Comments

Formula One. It's either a legitimate sport in which the world's most talented drivers compete, or a technological arms race won only by whoever spends the most money on the fanciest car.

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Whichever camp you belong to, the sport has introduced new regulations in 2014 to try to combat claims of excessive technological exploitation.

For Lotus F1 Team, fitting in with the new rules seemed a particularly daunting challenge, as IS and IT director Michael Taylor explained to Computing at EMC World 2014 in Las Vegas today.

"We realised quite early on that we were a long way out with technology from where we needed to be in terms of being very reactive to the business and having a very short cycle time," says Taylor.

When Lotus was coming to the end of a previous network and storage relationship with NetApp in 2013, Taylor describes how EMC soon "got wind" of the company's plans to make some hefty changes to its entire IT set-up.

It was a good job EMC was so interested as, explains Taylor, Lotus "just [doesn't] have time to go through a long tendering process - we need to identify the right technology, and the organisations that can provide that for us, and get it out there as fast as we can".

EMC's first remit was to "help transform IT across the board", says Taylor, "from factory to track sides, focusing totally on private cloud".

Taylor wished to move away from traditional infrastructure - what EMC calls the "second platform" - to enable a true use of IT as a service, and to "rapidly iterate and evolve to meet the lifecycle we have around the car, and react to the change in the organisation".

Taylor cannot emphasise enough how important the car is to the team's entire existence.

"The focus is around the car - everything is around the car, first and foremost," he says.

"Whatever we can do, from an IT perspective, must enable the car to be faster. That might be on track or in the design and manufacturing process.

"Aerodynamics obviously have a part to play, and a huge amount of investment is spent annually to develop the car. We were pretty much on a two-week lifecycle to design and manufacture the parts with iterative updates."

Communication between car and personnel is aimed to be at around a tenth of a second, for every race, in every season, with change coming thick and fast.

"The product that starts the season in the car, and finishes the season, is distinctly different to us," explains Taylor. "Pretty much everything on the car has been through a design or improvement process several times over."

EMC is in a privileged position, being able to offer a wealth of expertise across the board at Lotus. As has been the theme this week at EMC World 2014, with the firm pushing its "EMC Federation" message - a deft rebranding of the company's many arms, including VMware, Pivotal, and now flash storage start-up DSSD - the company now wishes to be all things to all people. Taylor is certainly impressed with the speed at which EMC began changing Lotus on many different levels.

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