Data has been identified as a key strategic resource by businesses, and hence, they are increasingly embracing data-centric business models. A high level of data availability is crucial for drawing actionable business insights on time. Deepak Visweswaraiah, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, NetApp India tells how the company is helping organizations to compete in the current data-driven world withg the right data mangemeent strategy, and its ongoing investment in the data-driven technologies.
Could you tell us about the data management challenges that businesses face when they adopt digital technologies, AI, and IoT?
Data, today, is the lifeblood of any organization. Businesses, in order to achieve digital transformation, are so that they can swiftly adapt and outperform their competitors. They also need to be sure where their data is, how to manage and analyze, and to get insights from it to build better business models and experiences for their customers in turn. However, the availability of data affects the business models for almost all companies.
The companies are investing large amounts of resources in developing data architectures to help them realize the promise of a digital transformation. For example, enterprises are eager to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to introduce new services and enhance insights from the company data. However, as data science teams move past proof of concept and begin to operationalize deep learning, many are experiencing issues with data management. They may struggle to deliver the necessary performance, and also find it challenging to move and copy data and to optimize storage for large and growing datasets.
Building a data-driven organization is challenging but with the right approach, organizations can manage data holistically and modernize their architecture to address these issues. NetApp is uniquely positioned to provide important blocks of infrastructure and data management to help our customers implement their vision. For example, NetApp is partnering with several automotive companies that are gathering data from a growing number of vehicles. This data is used to train the AI algorithms necessary for autonomous operation. Retailers are creating inference models based on data gathered from point-of-sale devices across hundreds of retail locations around the world.
Could you give us a sense of the company’s strategy and investment in new tech innovations to help companies embrace the data-driven future?
NetApp has always been focussed on supporting customers as well as partners and innovating with new technologies, which can help companies with their technological advancement.
One of the ways in which NetApp contributes to the ecosystem is through the University Research Programme where we collaborate with IITs, IISc and ISI, amongst other top engineering institutes in the country. And we have been doing so for the last decade with our internal research team – Advanced Technologies Group, leading this relationship. The idea is to enable professors, students and NetApp engineers to further their research and in the process learn about new technological trends which will not just help professors with their current work, but also enable the institutes to delve into deep technology. These technologies and innovations are going to be the backbone of how companies deal with futuristic technologies.
NetApp’s Faculty Fellowship programme has granted 31 such research scholarships with IP free grants up to USD 20,000 over the last 11 years in India. These partnerships open the door for NetApp’s data management expertise. We also support students with their research under NetApp Student Fellowship programme.
NetApp is working on to bring ultra-low-latency data acceleration services for persistent memory. How do you aim to capitalize on this first mover’s advantage?
Real-time data requirements are increasing and becoming the norm whether you’re driving a Tesla with the latest version of the software or tracking cyber threats. This is driving the need for more new approaches to data management that deliver radically lower latency. This is a technology that allows us to create ultra low-latency data acceleration services for persistent memory, given the need for memory-hungry applications with massive data sets to be analyzed and shared in real time.
The NetApp Memory Accelerated Data or MAX Data leverages persistent memory in servers to deliver memory-like ultra-low latency and flash-like capacity. We are looking at mirroring and protecting persistent memory and use snapshots for fast data recovery and leveraging all the data management capabilities in ONTAP including high availability, cloning, backup and disaster recovery. The most relevant use cases would be frauds and cyber threats detection, financial trading and real-time market analytics, health care diagnostics, forecasting, social media environments leveraging personalization algorithms, Internet of Things (IoT) workloads, or AI/ML-driven inference models.
We are continuously thriving on bringing this product to the next scale and continue our market leadership in the industry.
How has been the India market been from the business and talent perspectives?
India is one of the fastest growing markets in APAC and we have witnessed a consistent growth here in the last few years.
To keep up with the dynamic environment, organizations are investing in digital transformation to gain the ability to swiftly adapt and outperform their competitors. Data is increasingly becoming the cornerstone of all industries today including manufacturing, healthcare, and government sectors which we see as growth sectors.
We see most organizations adopt a cloud-first strategy in India, as the amount of data generation is increasing manifold. There is an increase in demand to process, store and analyze data, which has resulted in the further deployment of hybrid cloud and flash solutions. Our focus, therefore, continues to remain on Flash, HCI, and Hybrid Cloud Solutions. In terms of new avenues, 2019 will be all about AI. Consequently, fast, resilient, and automated infrastructures can only be delivered by using hybrid flash solutions, due to the need for high performance and scalability across environments.
From a talent and business perspective, the Global Centre of Excellence (GCoE) centre in Bangalore is strategic to the success of NetApp globally and is a microcosm of NetApp headquarters, housing R&D, customer support, HR, and finance operations.
How is India’s contribution to the company’s overall innovation agenda?
The key focus of NetApp India is to develop internationally competitive technological expertise by leveraging the best of breed talent. The 280 patents awarded and 500 that have been filed are a recognition of our commitment to innovation. Our flagship start-up accelerator program, the NetApp Excellerator, fuels data-driven start-ups to develop innovative solutions of tomorrow. The program has successfully been adding value to the enterprise start-up ecosystem through the eighteen alumni in the B2B space across three cohorts that have graduated from the program.