With an unmatched partnership with the cloud world and an industry-leading data management array of products, NetApp is the data authority in the hybrid cloud world. Bringing alongside, Deepak Visweswaraiah, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, NetApp India accentuated on ‘Cloud-Front, Data-Centric’ digital transformation and how its company is beguiling the digital transformations to script success stories for modern businesses. Edited Excerpts.
- NetApp has an emblem of being the Data Authority in Hybrid Cloud, now standing in mid of 2018 how do you see these phrases covering for NetApp?
Data is the lifeblood of modern business, and companies that succeed in their digital transformations can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. A recent article in The Economist noted that in today’s economy, “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” Data-centric companies operate more efficiently and outperform the competition. Enterprises that are positioned to gain the greatest insights from data will decide the future. At NetApp, we recognized the power and potential of the cloud from its inception. We have worked tirelessly to forge partnerships that provide greater insight and reach, enabling us to create hybrid cloud data services to meet demanding customer needs both on-premises and in the cloud. With an unmatched partnership with the cloud world and an industry-leading data management array of products, NetApp is the data authority in the hybrid cloud world. We provide global organizations with the ability to manage their data across on-prem, private and public clouds.
With new digital trends seeing an uptake, a transformation is the number one priority for businesses. For organizations today, data is the central point of the decision-making process and we therefore help accelerate digital transformation by developing a next generation, cloud-architected infrastructure that manages data and services as one integrated resource supporting public and private clouds.
We enable our customers to make the best choice as to how they would like to leverage their data and workloads. They may choose privately owned data centers, others’ data centers, private clouds or a mix of all – but most significantly, in the cloud. Cloud adoption has been a disruptive change and is majorly impacting not only our customers’ success but also the data storage industry as a whole. Realizing the need of our customers to manage their data seamlessly across environments, we are now focusing on Cloud, Flash and HCI related offerings. We have also partnered with the three major hyper-scalers – AWS, Microsoft and Google to help our customers manage their data in the cloud.
We also launched a Data Visionary Engineering Center (DVEC) in Bangalore recently. The India center is the latest addition to NetApp’s existing three centers across Sunnyvale, California; Triangle Park, North Carolina and European headquarters in Amsterdam. This DVEC offers information-rich, interactive and a high-touch experience to its customers and partners. Companies can discuss robust solutions that aid transformation, accelerate growth and reduce costs. With the world-class DVEC, the data visionaries can now experience NetApp’s latest products and services, meet executives and subject matter experts who can share the best practices and case studies of data management. Our efforts will continue to maintain our position as the data authority in the hybrid world.
- Edifying the largest GCoE(Global Center of Excellence) outside the USA, what innovations is the Indian facility undergoing to lead the digital-front transformation?
NetApp India which started in 2003 is the largest engineering center for NetApp globally today. India continues to be an important market for us. Expanding our leadership in helping customers thrive in a changing technology landscape, we inaugurated our Bangalore campus, ‘Global Center of Excellence’ in January 2017, to further innovation in data management for the hybrid cloud era. It is the largest R&D center for NetApp and a home to all business functions as well. The Bengaluru team’s mission is one that NetApp pursues globally towards expanding NetApp hybrid cloud data services that enable our customers’ data-centric vision into practice, so they can respond faster to market changes and rapidly advance new ideas – from concept to production.
NetApp’s innovation strategy caters to the development of global products and for global markets. The consistent path-breaking innovations emerging from this engineering hub, across key NetApp technologies like data management, back-up/recovery, business continuity, storage security and cloud-enabled data management, make NetApp India a strategic R&D center for the company. With over 400 filed and nearly 250 issued patents, NetApp India is constantly pushing the envelope for innovation from this center.
NetApp also takes an outside-in view of innovation and is committed to support innovation in the external ecosystem through its first startup accelerator program, the NetApp Excellerator.
The Data Visionary Center at NetApp India, offers a focused portfolio of innovative solutions and an interactive, high-touch experience to APAC customers and partners in their journey to embark on digital transformation.
- What are the data-driven opportunities available to those able to grasp the complexities of the digital landscape?
Access to data is revolutionizing how products are being conceived and taken to market. In a data-driven world, an organization can have better insights towards end-user expectations, thereby having the power to offer great business value. The world of data-driven organizations becomes more transparent leading to trust among companies, customers and competition, thus driving conversion rates and sales. The panoramic view that big data provides, will enable people to see perspectives that were previously not possible, such as customer behavior patterns and lifecycle markers. This leads to better decision making thereby improving productivity and reducing costs and increasing operational efficiencies.
As per an IDG Survey report, 44% of respondents see AI having the greatest potential as a mean to facilitate operations in areas such as system maintenance, troubleshooting and optimization. Other areas where AI is expected to have significant impact include security, threat analytics, intrusion detection and prevention. Companies already working with AI, view the technology as a key enabler of sales/marketing opportunities, such as increased cross-selling or personalization.
On the journey to hybrid cloud, customers are looking to NetApp to be their trusted advisor. We are seeing success across the world as customers are working with NetApp to manage their data on premises and in the cloud to accelerate their digital transformation.
How are we going to reach new customers and buyers as they do this? To answer that question, we did some research. In partnership with IDC, we talked to 800 leaders around the world to find out how they are maximizing the value of data and where they are in their own digital transformation. We found out who is thriving in data and who is resisting in data. We discovered Data Thrivers achieve:
- 6x greater improvement in operational efficiency
- 2x greater likelihood of driving revenue from product innovations
- 3x greater likelihood of improved customer satisfaction
This Data Thriver report and its findings validates our strategy: that data must be at the center of your organization. And we have a clear opportunity to help our customers accelerate their own digital transformation through maximizing the value of data.
- With respect to Indian scenario, what are the new data storage options, in a time where Cloud and its other services are taking over business processes?
The Indian storage market is believed to be growing constantly at a CAGR of more than 7% between 2016 and 2021. Even though the Indian market is smaller when compared to China or Australia, we see quicker adoption of technologies. Cloud is the buzzword and businesses are increasingly adopting the technology. As a major industry disruptor, the cloud has been transforming the way IT services are delivered and consumed by organizations with almost every enterprise already having moved to the cloud.
The hybrid cloud too is being widely adopted globally and in India. Enterprises are looking at hybrid cloud as it offers the best of both worlds – private and public clouds. It improves an organization’s operations by means of greater agility and speed, more effective reallocation of internal resources and better linkage between business and IT departments and hence; is more appealing to the businesses.
At the helm of transforming traditional data storage systems to modern data management solutions, is the Flash technology. For enterprises today, managing the humongous data, has become the main task and that’s where ‘All Flash Array’ (AFA) storage can provide a quick solution. Also referred to as Solid State Array (SSA), AFA is a data storage solution that contains multiple flash memory drives instead of spinning hard disk drives (HDDs); that offers greater efficiency compared to traditional HDD storage in terms of scalability. India is emerging as a strong early adopter of AFA storage systems. As per a report by Frost & Sullivan, 50% of CIOs in India are believed to move to an all-flash data center by 2020. Our flash-accelerated and cloud-integrated scale-out solutions have found widespread adoption across Banks, Insurance, Manufacturing & IT/ITeS.
The Converged Infrastructure (CI) market has grown rapidly too, as organizations continue to value increased operational simplicity and faster time to market. Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) platforms are a natural evolution as organizations look to build their next-generation data center strategy. With NetApp’s HCI solution, we enable organizations to unleash the complete power of their infrastructure with the ability to simplify management and independently scale compute and storage resources.
- How has GDPR impacted the organizations and NetApp being the enabler, what scopes and challenges will it bring for India in coming time?
As per the guidelines stated by GDPR, companies will now have to obtain explicit consent from every user before they initiate any kind of interaction that aims to collect any kind of identifiable information. Effectively, GDPR will enforce companies to relook at the entire lifecycle of data, right from its generation, collection to storage and deletion. Drawn from our model of excellence and our experience of enforcing stringent data privacy and data protection processes in our own business, we are now helping our customers on their journey towards compliance. We strive to educate our customers first on the foundations of data privacy compliance and secondly on technology solutions. By factoring in people, processes and finally technology mapping across the ecosystem, NetApp promises robust support for businesses seeking GDPR compliance.
As a company operating in the data management space, the main challenge would be to ensure the security of citizen data, its seamless movement from one location to another; without hampering the overall progress of businesses and eventually the country.
Some other challenges and opportunity with GDPR:
- Companies need to know the exact location of the data to be able to comply – identify and classify
- Cross-border restrictions: GDPR reduces the extent to which businesses can assess risks and make decisions when it comes to transferring data outside the EU. Indian companies would need to implement enough safeguards, as required under the GDPR, to transfer personal data outside the EU, thereby further increasing compliance costs.
- Greater risk of penalties and litigation: Article 3 (Territorial scope) of the GDPR makes it clear that the regulation will be applicable regardless of whether the processing takes place in the EU. This means that no business transactions can happen for Indian companies that do not comply with the GDPR or increased compliance costs for those who do. There will also be a risk of huge penalties on failing to do so.
- GDPR brings in a renewed focus to data privacy. While this is a new compliance imperative, it also provides a competitive advantage for businesses. The GDPR could be an opportunity for Indian companies to stand out as leaders in providing privacy compliant services and solutions.
- Why is India becoming the innovation hub for more global companies?
Availability of engineering talent, ease of doing business, research in new technologies like AI, ML are some of the reasons that are contributing to make India as an innovation hub. The B2B startup eco system improvement is another big reason. The government of India is also bullish on making India technologically advanced country, with initiatives like ‘Make in India’.
As per a report by KPMG, India ranks third after the US and China as the top global technology innovation leader. 13% of the global technology industry leaders indicate its potential for tech breakthroughs. India has prioritized government support for entrepreneurship and a burgeoning culture of innovation. Many start-up business models are leveraging emerging technologies to cater to India’s cloud-first generation. India continues to be a strong competitor for the tech innovation center of the world after Silicon Valley.
Indian start-ups are playing a crucial role in driving the innovation wave in the country. The government has launched the start-up India mission to make India, a leader in the start-up and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The launch of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy in May 2016 to increase predictability, clarity and transparency in India’s IP regime also has been playing a crucial role in making India; a key innovation hub.
- How different is Indian demand wherein IT outsourcing ramps up for global businesses?
The demand for IT outsourcing in India is similar to the global. According to Gartner, while hardware spending is set to grow moderately in 2018, enterprise spending on data center infrastructure software will rise to US$3.6 billion in 2018, a 10% year-over-year increase. This uptick is happening as a result of an increase in digital evolution and the adoption of digital technologies by Indian enterprises. Higher the amount of digital content produced, more the number of data centers required to host and run all of the mission-critical information. Some of the key sectors BFSI, telecom, insurance and IT industries are highly data-driven and are in need of data management services.
- Data as a new currency – what 2018 holds for data management companies such as NetApp and how they are moving the needle towards making it much more structured?
Not a new player in the market, NetApp celebrated 25 years of providing data management solutions last year. Yet with at least one of our founders, Dave Hitz, in an active role, we are more like a 25-year-old startup. This way we always look to transform the way we look at our business, and more importantly, that of our customers.
Given the rise of connected things, IDC predicts that the world will generate 163 zettabytes (ie. 1 trillion gigabytes) of data a year by 2025. This poses a major challenge to organizations: how should they effectively manage that tsunami of data to optimize their business? And enterprises need ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to this data, no matter where it resides. This translates to a need to move data quickly and securely from one location to another. This is where NetApp comes in – with a wide portfolio of data management solutions, we enable our customers to seamlessly move data across environments and securely so. NetApp has also partnered with the three big hyper-scalers to ensure optimum data management solutions in the cloud. Thriving in this environment requires creating a data-centric organization, which is no small undertaking. And a holistic approach to managing data that is secure, efficient, futureproof and provides freedom of choice.
Flash plays a key role in customers’ digital transformation efforts as they seek to gain advantage through greater speed, responsiveness and value from key business applications—all while lowering total cost of ownership. All-flash array technology is the de facto choice as customers seek performance and economic benefits from replacing hard disk installations. With a highly differentiated and
broad portfolio of all-flash and hybrid array offerings, NetApp is well positioned to enable customers to accomplish this transition. Budget constraints and skill imbalances lead our customers to seek help in integrating, deploying and managing the solutions they need to stay competitive. This drives demand for converged and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions. FlexPod is the converged infrastructure of choice for many of the largest enterprises around the globe. Customers can break free from the limits of first-generation HCI with NetApp HCI and attain guaranteed performance with unmatched flexibility, scale, automation, and integration with the Data Fabric.
Customers are attracted by the speed and scale benefits of the public cloud but need new data management capabilities to keep control of data as it moves beyond the walls of the enterprise. NetApp believes the hybrid cloud is fast becoming the dominant model for enterprise IT. Our Data Fabric approach enables our customers to manage, secure and protect their data from on-premises to public to hybrid clouds, all at the scale needed to accommodate the exponential data growth of the digital world.