Hi folks,

I'm doing a bit of idle research into FHE (https://homomorphicencryption.org/introduction/). The point of FHE is to allow you to have another party perform operations on your encrypted data and they never have the unencrypted values, even of the calculations they are performing.

IBM has a library that runs on Windows or Linux that can do addition on encrypted data and save it back so that only the owner can decrypt the result. This library could be utilized for batch processing of monthly/quarterly/yearly reporting that you need more horsepower to process than you normally have available, in order to complete the processing on schedule without impacting normal operations.

Microsoft lets you run statistical operations (think business intelligence) on an Azure server. This would be for a DataFlex AI process. The data is never going to be exact. Again outsourcing some statistical processing that requires more high-performance computing (HPC) than you have online for your daily processing.

By offloading these HPC processes, you'll save on your cloud billing, because purchasing the time to run a periodic process will almost always be significantly less that provisioning your main server(s) to be able to execute these processes in a timely fashion while still running your standard daily operations. It uses the standard statistical trick of deleting the absolute minimum and maximum values, then giving you statistical min, max or mean of the values. Good for a dashboard of how a widget is selling, but not a true report of the exact amount.

The process would go something like this:

  • You may or may not have your online database encrypted. Your encryption key never leaves your office except for an offsite backup.
    • If already encrypted, simply make a copy of the data required for the processing
    • If not already encrypted, generate the encrypted data set for the processing.

  • Transfer the encrypted data to the HPC service.
  • Run the process(es) on the service
  • Transfer the results back and use your secret key to incorporate the result set into your onliine data, as appropriate.

I've not looked at DataFlex AI, but I'm guessing it is generally like all the other business intelligence systems out there. Churn through the data and display connections that you might not notice from your regular reporting. What's moving well, what is costing too much to produce, etc.

The questions that I start with are these:
  1. Which method has more value to you at this time: offsite batch processing of sales/accounting type data or offsite processing of AI data?
  2. Do you see any potential future value in the other option?

Just some navel gazing questions for you to contemplate.

Best regards,