Data will define the way forward for new-age technologies: Shuja Mirza, NetApp

Customers are looking for vendors who can provide simplicity and consistency, security and protection, sustainability and savings, etc. They can speed up the technology and business innovation by leveraging data of hybrid, multi-cloud estate. NetApp is making the hybrid multi-cloud work for customers. It also has solutions that throttle cyber threats.

Shuja Mirza, Director, Solutions Engineering, NetApp India, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: How can cloud enable VR/AR, metaverse, cloud gaming, and even quantum computing in 2023 and beyond?

Shuja Mirza: In today’s digital environment, data is generated and transmitted across levels and functions, making its management crucial to smooth functioning. Right from storage to analytics, data will define the way forward for new-age technologies, and has become an increasingly valuable tool for businesses. When stored on the cloud, there is tremendous potential for this to become the bedrock of innovation. The agility provided by cloud computing technologies to manage data provides a competitive edge and even strategic advantage to businesses that leverage technologies like VR/AR and metaverse.

Big data, enables businesses to make data-driven decisions and can help foresee trends, make projections, and suggest corrective action to stay relevant for customers and partners. A well thought-through hybrid cloud approach ensures information availability, allowing businesses to innovate and therefore enhance user experience significantly.

DQ: How do you see multi-cloud as an increasingly popular strategy in 2023?

Shuja Mirza: If 2022 was the year of hybrid cloud, then 2023 is big on hybrid cloud and multi-cloud where enterprises increasingly distribute their services around a number of cloud providers. A multi-cloud approach works best in such situations and brings a lot of value to the table in terms of increased security and flexibility.

With a view on portability, adopting a multi-cloud approach will involve moving away from practices like designing apps and procedures only for a single cloud platform. With containerized applications becoming more and more popular, a multi-cloud approach will allow these to be easily transferred to new platforms in the event that service levels change or more affordable solutions become available from various providers.

NetApp, through its ASTRA portfolio, is helping organisations reduce the time to market by orchestrating, migrating and protecting container environments across on-prem and multi-cloud environments.

DQ: Are we going to see more of AI and ML-powered cloud in 2023?

Shuja Mirza: Few businesses have the resources to build their own AI infrastructure, and hence, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are provided as cloud services. Functions like collating data and training algorithms require copious amounts of computing power and storage space, which are more cost-effective to rent-as-a-service.

As NetApp, we are leveraging AI & ML to reduce cost of cloud operations by 60-70%. SPOT by NetApp is simplifying cloud ops and finops through AI & ML based automation for our customers in India. These include managing vast and distributed networks that are required to provide storage resources to their customers, regulating the power and cooling systems in data centers, and powering cybersecurity solutions that keep their data safe.

In 2023, with growth in digital initiatives and corresponding cloud workloads, we anticipate increased adoption of AI and ML driven cloud ops tools like SPOT by NetApp

DQ: What are the growth prospects for industry cloud platforms, going forward?

Shuja Mirza: Over the last few years, industry cloud platforms have created immense value for enterprises. They have become increasingly important due to the need to migrate specialized best practices and use cases as well as in utilizing vast amounts of data, structures, and analytics unique to each industry vertical type.

In addition to having an integrated ERP in the cloud, industry cloud enables partnerships and collaboration across extended enterprises, and covers customers and suppliers, to allow for an ecosystem of specialized vertical apps that is readily integrated for the industry.

The popularity of industry cloud is marked by characteristics of agility, innovation with speed, and compliance management. As we move forward, there is tremendous potential for the growth and adoption of industry cloud platforms. In fact, Forrester has predicted that by 2026, industry clouds will be the preferred approach for enterprises with many leading Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) already deriving double digit percentage of their revenues from it.

Industry clouds’ potential to digitally transform at scale, with significant future proofing of maintenance, upgrades, and support, while maintaining adherence to industry standards and compliance, will further aid in accelerated growth and digital-first initiatives.

DQ: What is the potential for cloud security services for 2023 and beyond?

Shuja Mirza: The adoption of cloud and digital transformation has radically transformed the IT landscape. At the same time, this has brought about new threats and the need for heightened security requirements. In a highly dynamic threat landscape, Gartner has rightly predicted that the next two years will see fast growth in the cloud security market. Spends in this space have been estimated to grow 11.3% in 2023, reaching more than $188.3 billion.

Cloud security services are of paramount importance and can help organisations protect their data with actionable intelligence on insider threats. Automated solutions in this area, work to provide centralized visibility and control of all corporate data access across hybrid cloud environments to ensure that security and compliance goals are met.

NetApp, through its information-centric security approach, actively detects, prevents and recovers data from a cyber-attack like ransomware, allowing organisations to do business with a lot more confidence.

DQ: Do you foresee edge computing continuing to rise in 2023 and beyond?

Shuja Mirza: Edge computing is arguably one of the most important trends in IT. As per IDC, by 2023, more than half of new enterprise technology infrastructure will be at the edge. Soon, faster decision-making will be possible – thanks to machine learning. Real-time customization will also be fueled by the combination of edge and AI.

Simply put, edge computing is moving in the direction of more. What was once considered to be a priority only for Fortune 500 companies, has now become crucial for businesses of all sizes.

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