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  • Ahead in the Cloud: Data sharing and American-made microchips with Priya Almelkar

    December 15, 2022
  • Priya Almelkar, Vice President of IT Manufacturing Operations at Wolfspeed discusses moving to the cloud for analytics. The discussion covers how to keep your data clean, accurate, and up to date in the cloud.

    Hosted by Chad Watt, researcher and writer with the Infosys Knowledge Institute.

    “We have a very aggressive growth plan. Just being able to open up a brand new manufacturing facility in two years time during the pandemic. I think we have proven how we are going to continue driving that in the market.”

    “The decision to go to cloud was all for analytics.”

    “Wolfspeed is vertically integrated. We build our own material. So there is not a whole lot of insights that we can get from the market or from other companies. We have to kind of drive it from ground up ourselves.”

    “I do not believe that data is more secure on-prem versus in the cloud. But with that, being in cloud, you just have to make sure that you have all the capabilities built in that foundation.”

    - Priya Almelkar


  • Cree, Inc. pivoted in the last year or two from main led lighting products to focusing on new sorts of semiconductors and microchips for the automotive industry. It took the name Wolfspeed and signed a deal with General Motors to supply chips for electric vehicles.
  • Wolfspeed is driving the industry transition from silicon to Silicon Carbide.
  • They have built the world’s first, largest, and only 200mm Silicon Carbide fabrication facility in Marcy, New York. It is complemented by their mega materials factory expansion currently underway at Durham, North Carolina headquarters.
  • Wolfspeed isn’t looking to migrate any of their on-prem systems into the cloud. But as they are building new capabilities, that's what they will be bringing in the cloud.
  • They are in the process of migrating from ERP into SAP and that will be cloud based as well.
  • When Priya first started that analytics journey, the reason she decided to go full cloud, even with their ETL capabilities, was because she wanted to prove to the business what business value they can add. And doing it on-prem would have been a longer journey.
  • The first capability that Wolfspeed achieved using data in the cloud and the company’s analytics systems was tracking and awareness about when things are gonna be delivered to their customers.
  • That data led to insights, showing there were inefficiencies in their processes. The team did a tremendous job in completely turning that around. But to turn that around, they needed to provide that data to the business.
  • Wolfspeed is vertically integrated. They build their own material. So there is not a whole lot of insights that they can get from the market or from other companies. They have to drive it from ground up themselves. So next capabilities that they will be deploying will be related to business units.
  • If the business is talking about a new use case that they are bringing in, there are some parameters that need to get changed for another use case that was already in place. You have to look at it holistically and you cannot look at it in silo. That’s why the governance process has to work with the business.
  • Anything that is their highest IP, remains on-prem. They want to make sure that the tier one applications that actually keep the factory running will always remain on premise. Because this way, if they lose connectivity to the network connection, their factory can continue to run. It's kind of the foundation that Wolfspeed uses to define what goes in and what doesn't go in to the cloud.
  • The second aspect of it is governance. Having a foundation for compliance. So, for every single type of data, Wolfspeed goes through that exercise of marking sensitive data and then deciding what goes in the cloud and what doesn’t.

Show Notes

  • 00:06

    Chad introduces himself and Priya

  • 00:51

    Priya talks about her background

  • 03:30

    What about it appealed to you? What made you fall in love with it?

  • 04:29

    What advice do you have for women pursuing leadership roles in technology?

  • 06:23

    What did it take for Wolfspeed to win that deal with such a big client?

  • 07:16

    Even people who don't know much about technology right now have heard about cars and microchips and shortages. What is Wolfspeed doing to make sure that you guys supply what your client and future clients need?

  • 08:15

    What made the decision to go to the cloud?

  • 09:54

    What was the first capability specifically?

  • 10:35

    Did that lead to some new insights?

  • 11:00

    You've heard the metaphor that data is the new oil. Give me another metaphor. Data is the new oil works in some ways, but what's a better analogy for data in your work?

  • 12:15

    What are some of the next capabilities you're looking to deploy?

  • 13:22

    What's involved in maintaining and keeping your data accurate in cloud?

  • 14:45

    How do you decide what stays on premises? What shifts to the cloud?

  • 16:00

    Priya and Chad talk about microchips and how the geography of foundries evolving.

  • 17:07

    How does the CHIPS Act change the landscape for chip making in the US? Does that have impact on Wolfspeed?

  • 17:49

    How has your shift to data in the cloud changed your approach to cyber security?

  • 19:30

    If I gave you a magic wand, what's the one data analytics capability you would add to your cloud instantly today?

About Priya Almelkar

Priya Almelkar

Priya Almelkar is VP of IT Product, Manufacturing and R&Ds at Wolfspeed Inc, a leader in silicon carbide semiconductor manufacturing. She has over 20 years of experience leading core IT functions across a variety of verticals, including telecommunication, retail, semiconductor manufacturing, and brings deep expertise in implementing large-scale digital transformations. She is passionate about driving innovation and leading change. Over the years she has worked with many cloud providers to build Analytics capabilities for her organizations and takes every opportunity to share her learnings with larger forums. She has also been recognized with a STEP Ahead award for leadership in Manufacturing.

    Connect with Priya Almelkar

  • On LinkedIn