Interview: Node4 & Skyports, Cloud Excellence Awards finalist

'We are fully focused and actively working on supporting agnostic operations at vertiports globally.'

clock • 4 min read
Ankit Dass, Chief Technology and Product Officer, Skyports Infrastructure
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Ankit Dass, Chief Technology and Product Officer, Skyports Infrastructure

The adoption of cloud computing technology is still growing. Some have made the move to the cloud to stay digitally competitive, while others have embraced it to facilitate the rise in remote work.

Computing's Cloud Excellence Awards recognise the very best of the UK's cloud industry, from the most innovative and compelling products and vendors, through to the top use cases from end-user firms.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Thursday 21st September in central London.

Among the finalists are Node4 and Skyports, who have jointly reached the shortlist for the Most Innovative Use of Data in the Cloud.

We talked to Ankit Dass, Chief Technology and Product Officer at Skyports Infrastructure, to find out what makes the company different its competitors, and what they're working on this year.

Ankit  is responsible for leading, defining and implementing the technology strategy and roadmap for Skyports. This involves providing leadership on executing the digital strategy to meet business goals and guiding the technology team to evaluate, procure and build the best software technology for enabling Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) infrastructure. He brings more than 16 years of in-depth experience in building scalable technology platforms from his prior roles leading the technology initiatives at various fintech and investments banks.

Ankit holds a Masters in Software Engineering from University of Oxford.

Computing: What makes you different from other companies?

Ankit Dass: Skyports Infrastructure is the leading provider of vertiports for the advanced air mobility industry and has the most developed (in terms of size and expertise) vertiport team in the world. We are fully focused and actively working on supporting agnostic operations at vertiports globally. This agnosticism is what sets us apart from our competitors. We're working on large scale projects with the leading names in aviation and infrastructure across the world to develop an end-to-end solution. Our vertiports are also vehicle-agnostic, which means our technology can integrate with all eVTOLs on the market, enabling us to scale more readily and meet demand.

We also have tangible locations of vertiport testbeds where this technology is currently being trialled and where we can work with partners to develop processes. These facilities allow us to demonstrate passenger flow, integration with aircraft, and all the technology that we are working on daily. This is extremely rare in our industry, so we stand alone in that sense.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

We have launched two vertiport testbeds over the past 12 months, which have transformed our ability to test technology on the ground in a real life environment. These two facilities are the Skyports Living Lab in California, which is designed for operational testing, public acceptance efforts and passenger flow, and our European Vertiport Testbed Facility in Paris, which allows for operational testing in a live airfield. These testbeds help us improve our product offering, but also advance our understanding of how our operations take place. Being the first in the industry to lead the way with such tangible testing sites is certainly something that we are proud of.

What are you working on this year?

This year, our focus is to efficiently manage a multi-operator vertiport environment through an in-house software system, allowing us to scale up operations. This hasn't been done before - even airports only manage one airport at a time, rather than a whole network. Currently, we are working on a bespoke resources management and scheduling system, which will allow us to manage a network of vertiports for a particular region. We hope to be able to demonstrate this by the end of the year.

This all stemmed from a meeting in Dubai last February in which the Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai approved a vertiport project led by Skyports Infrastructure and the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA). This project is an important milestone both for us and industry. We are not developing a standalone vertiport, but a network of four vertiports across Dubai, which will enable the launch of commercial air taxi operations.

Why are events like the Cloud Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?

Events like the Cloud Excellence Awards are important because they provide an opportunity to recognise the achievements of the IT industry, and for organisations to showcase their capabilities and differentiators. Technology is ever evolving and too often we move on to the next project without stepping back to celebrate what has been achieved and those who helped us to achieve it. The award that we are shortlisted for - Most Innovative Use of Data in the Cloud - is particularly important because few platforms recognise the latest innovation until it produces concrete and tangible benefits. Celebrating the ongoing projects helps to accelerate innovation, encourage learning, and ultimately moves the industry forward.

It is so special to be a finalist and attend the Cloud Excellence Awards with our partner, Node4, who are playing a pivotal role in helping us to make electric air taxi travel a reality. We look forward to celebrating all that has been achieved within the IT industry over the past year with all the other finalists.

The Cloud Excellence Awards will take place on 21st September in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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