by September 9, 2013 0 comments

What are the key trends that are redefining the storage landscape?
Mobile, big data, social and cloud computing are four key technologies that are collectively redefining the way data is being generated and stored. And these are supported in a big way by the smartphone revolution. 2 billion shipped in the last six years itself. They produce lot of data, some of it on the smartphone and the rest on the web data centers. Imagine that we sold 85 petabytes worth of storage to a single web scale customer in the first half of this year. It was in the form of 20,000 HDDs and took 8 trucks worth of systems to ship! An Exabyte = 1000 petabytes. To give you an idea of the enormity of the task on hand, let me share some key statistics in our data storage journey. It took EMC 20 years of history in 2005 to ship an Exabyte (=1000 petabytes) of total disk storage. In 2010 an Exabyte was shipped in a single year for the first time. In the 3rd quarter of 2011 we shipped an Exabyte in a single quarter for the first time. In the last month of Q2, in June, we shipped an exabyte in a month for the first time. In future we shall talk about a single customer deploying an Exabyte of data storage. This growth is not slowing down but accelerating. So, what’s the way forward? You have to leverage disruptive data center technologies to take advantage of this massive data.

What are the disruptive technologies that can be leveraged to optimize storage?
First is the power unleasehed by intel multi-core processors. Today we’ve got five times more performance from processors that power your servers. The software in the data center has to be optimised to take advantage of this hardware. In 2009 more new apps were deployed on virtual systems than physical machines. You again have to optimize data center architecture to take advantage of virtualization. Flash storage is the other disruptive tech but is still expensive for mass deployment, though it gives more IOPS per dollar. Again your storage software has to be optimized to fully utilize it. Now how well you utilize these disruptive tech in your data center depends fully on your business model. For instance, if you are continuously available on Facebook or regularly post videos on Youtube, maybe an occasional drop in post could work for you. But if you are into data archiving for your organization then every second of data storage becomes precious.

How does software defined storage help customers in optimizing data storage?
We have solutions that are tuned to the needs of mid-range to large enterprises. We work on the software defined storage principle where most of the control is now prevalent in the software layer rather than the hardware layer, within the storage stack. Now software can be made independent of the array and there are new software layers inside storage that didn’t exist before. You can call it a unified storage model where control is seamless across different storage architecture–EMC and non EMC arrays, or cloud gateways. It is easy to provision and manage resources when needed. We are driving different cost models for different needs. So, you can provision for storage for as low as 5 cents a gig.

Are we now looking at a storage-on-rent as opposed to storage-on-sale model?
Through the Project Nile we plan to provide an elastic cloud system. Here a user can choose blocks, files or even objects as part of his storage requirements. This is the logical next step. There are customers who like such kind of cloud storage points. We are gonna keep innovating on pricing; maybe your margins per user decrease but your pie increases. Such a cloud storage model is simple to order and use, and you can run it on your premises. All APIs on ViPR (our software defined storage product) are open. Other vendors can add value to these, especially startups that can add value on top of this product for enterprises. It is more secure and can be easily managed by the IT department.

But for storage admins, isn’t it like purchasing yet another product, adding more processes?
Lot of work on our products is influenced by the cloud service platforms. Most customers are enterprise customers, where data is growing at a massive rate. And as data grows it is managed in silos, which is not a sustainable model. They want a solution but the management complexity shouldn’t stay flat but go down. Most admins today are looking at a stack to their existing infrastructure rather than a rip-and-replace approach. And they want their opex to decrease even though their data is increasing.
We believe in taking the human out to get opex down. Purchasing storage should be as easy as going to the IT shop and purchasing the amount of storage you require, in the shortest possible time. In the past we’ve seen it take ten days to requisition storage. Now, you just have to define policy for the customers and do it real fast. Each product has a different interface and provides different snapshot capabilities. As an admin you just have to understand the different controls. ViPR provides a single API regardless of the platform you are using. It automates the parts of the commands, unifies all commands and makes it easy. We offer even the simplest part in the storage as a service mode. I can go to the abstraction level and go down to the infrastructure level.

When we look at the Indian market, how challenging it is to push new, innovative storage solutions?
In India cost is an issue but the same is true elsewhere. When we look at different markets 85% of the issues are similar, it’s only the remaining 15% that’s local in nature. Almost all markets have power, infrastructure, communications issues that vary in degree. So, we need to customize the last mile in our offerings for all markets. We are strong in the US, as 50% of our revenue comes from US and the remaining 50% comes from overseas. So there are opportunities overseas. In our center of excellence in Bangalore the quality of talent is great. We expect a lot of innovation to come out from there.

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