From Big data to smart information

In an age of constant change and growing complexity, intelligent solutions from Thales provide reliable, context-sensitive information that help customers understand the world around them so they can make the right decisions at the right time. Transforming vast quantities of raw data into useful insights and critical information is Thales's core business.

Whenever critical decisions need to be made,  Thales has a role to play. In all its markets — aerospace, space, ground  transportation, defence and security —  Thales solutions help customers to make the right  decisions at the right time and act accordingly.

Thales and Big data: unique positioning

"Wherever safety and security are critical, Thales delivers. Together, we innovate with our customers to build smarter solutions. Everywhere!"

To fulfil that mission, Thales has stepped up to the Big data challenge.

A comprehensive approach

  • Big data infrastructure to collect and store data
  • Big Analytics and Visual Analytics to extract meaning and create value

Meeting operational needs of customers

  • Thales systems generate and process vast quantities of data.
  • Thales offers proven expertise in security and cybersecurity to protect data of all kinds.

Major investments in R&D

  • R&D represents 20% of Thales Group revenues.
  • The nature of Thales's businesses has always made data acquisition and processing a key area of focus for our research and development teams.

As a key player in security markets, our role is to protect people, countries, critical infrastructure and data. To do that, we work closely with our customers — governments, cities, essential operators, companies and major national and international organisations — to address their specific concerns and develop solutions that meet the needs of their stakeholders. As a data processing specialist, Thales sees Big data as a natural development of its core business. For us, the only point of gathering and storing large amounts of data is to convert it, either in real time or at some later date, into useful information that learns as it grows, becoming steadily smarter and more operational as volumes expand.

Thales brings a unique value proposition to the Big data market. In addition to high-security storage solutions scaled to accommodate huge datasets, we have invested consistently in research and development to write the complex algorithms needed to process that data.

Today's rapid progress in data management techniques, largely driven by the Internet giants, relies to a large extent on open source technologies. Thales has the experience to select the right technologies for each use case, and above all we have the specialised expertise in data security and protection that are key to the future of Big data. Today, we are the European technology leader in cryptology and security architectures. Thales is the only provider, for example, to manage data access based on both content and context, making it possible to guarantee every level of security from enterprise-grade confidential to top secret classified.

Creating value from data

The very nature of the systems we develop for customers in all the markets we serve — aerospace, space, ground transportation, security and defence — has given Thales a head start as data volumes explode. In all these markets, we have found specific ways to make sense of our customers' data, intelligent ways to create value by turning that data into information they can act upon.

In a world of mobile devices and social media, the volumes of data being generated today are quite phenomenal — an estimated 90% of all the data on earth have been generated in the last two years! This relatively recent development has shaped the marketing strategies of Internet giants such as Apple, Google and Amazon, and created a huge amount of media buzz around the idea of Big data. But the Internet of Things is taking the phenomenon to a new level. Road sensors, GPS receivers, smart electric meters, and a whole host of interconnected objects and wearable devices, are already making their entrance, generating data volumes of a different order of magnitude and creating a much coveted potential for turning that data into actionable insights.

Thales first got involved in the Big data revolution in 2009, when we were part of a joint R&D project to detect and investigate cases of online payment fraud in France. With 10-15 million transactions a day, the volumes of data to be processed were enormous. Added to that, decisions needed to be made extremely quickly — in less than 300 ms — to determine whether a transaction was fraudulent or not. And, because of the highly relational nature of the data to be processed, with 40 million cardholders and 500,000 online merchants, we quickly realised two things: that traditional database models were inadequate; and that new processing algorithms would be needed to leverage the potential of distributed computing.

In every market we serve, Thales designs its systems to keep pace with the relentless growth in demand for higher performance and greater security. These systems are built around large numbers of components, including video cameras, satellites, chemical sensors, electronic tags and so on, each of which generates unprecedented amounts of data. Handling the burgeoning load of data calls for new storage and processing technologies (NoSQL, Hadoop, Cassandra, etc.) as well as innovative algorithm solutions (such as MapReduce, parallelisation or linearisation).

The Thales approach is structured around three closely interconnected themes: Big data (data management/storage), Big Analytics (processing, enrichment and value creation) and Visual Analytics (exploitation and interactive visualisation of data).

Based on this three-pronged approach, Thales develops specific business cases with each customer, defining exactly what they expect from the process of collecting, storing and analysing data. The Thales approach opens up completely new decision-making opportunities, particularly when decisions are time-sensitive and based on complex information.

Leading-edge expertise

The "dataclysm" is nowhere near its peak. As connected objects proliferate in the years ahead, data volumes will only escalate further. To develop operational solutions that enable customers to tap deep into these fabulous reserves of data, Thales has set up a dedicated R&D lab known as CeNTAI (Centre de Traitement et d’analyse de l’Information). Today, CeNTAI is developing the next generation of Big data and Big Analytics methods and technologies, with a primary focus on cybersecurity, cyber crime, intelligence and transportation. It is working hand in hand with the LIP6 computer science lab at Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris, one of the world's most respected research facilities in the field of Big Analytics, through a joint laboratory set up to conduct advanced research projects and make new algorithms available to Thales units.

Meanwhile, we are developing our core competencies and recruiting data scientists with a combination of skills in data analysis and advanced statistics, information technologies and new database tools (NoSQL, NewSQL, etc.), new algorithm implementations (Hadoop Pig, Hive, MapReduce, Storm), and professional experience in the same business areas as our customers.

Last but not least, we have introduced new, more collaborative working methods to progressively build up an ecosystem of specialists centred on the customer and focused on co-development, agile software methods and iterative feedback processes. Through all these innovations in the Big Analytics field, we are helping customers in all our markets to make their data smarter, more meaningful and more operational.

Discover our outstanding offering Big data

  • Smarter Data for more cybersecurity
    Using the latest Big data and Big analytics technologies, Thales consolidates internal and external data logs to detect and understand cyberthreats and develop appropriate responses.
  • Smarter data for deeper insights into the galaxy
    Thales has supplied the French space agency CNES with a Big data processing infrastructure, encompassing hardware and software, for the GAIA mission that is setting out to map a billion stars.
  • Smarter data for smarter cities: helping you optimise transportation networks
    Thales’s Big analytics approach extracts every ounce of information from your data to better understand passenger behaviour and ridership patterns and know how they really use your transport infrastructure and equipment.

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