Flash storage is a trend to watch out in 2016

Prerna Sharma
New Update
Phil Davis

How you are seeing technology transformation impacting businesses across industries?


Today, at the broadest level, there is an increased pressure on all businesses to make faster and better decisions. Some of this is driven by the whole move to digital economy. For instance Uber took the technology ladder to get into the taxi business without owning any taxi cabs.

Similarly, retailers are using big data to make better targeting of customers and banks use it for taking better trade decisions as well as risk decisions. So the whole thing right now is the pace of business that is really accelerating and the premium is being put on the people that can make business decisions much more quickly. And all this ends up in putting more pressure on IT to be more flexible, agile, easily scale up or scale down. So, HPE is focusing on four transformation areas to help customers to be successful at this new style of business.

Can you highlight on these transformation areas?


There is lot of hype about the public and private cloud. But it is not a case where everybody is throwing traditional datacenters and then moving everything to the cloud, rather we can see lot customers have legacy applications in the old style of IT and they want to bring on the cloud native applications particularly for web applications or mobile applications. So it is putting pressure on the IT departments to make both work. And this whole integration of the hybrid cloud that we think is going to be very important for the customers who are focused.

The second transformation area is around protected digital assets. Things like StoreOnce which provides disk to disk backup enables you a very very quick recovery time in case there is a problem. We are detecting and responding to threats, continuity and compliance, disaster recovery and all those type of things which are important for businesses.

The third area is around enabling workplace productivity. Today, virtual desktop infrastructure is really accelerating. VDI has certain unique requirements that puts backhand on storage, so making sure you have the correct storage infrastructure to support that VDI environment. So we have aligned not just the enterprise group but Hewlett Packard Enterprise is around these transformation areas and helping customers in these key big areas.


Other than the retail sector, what are the other target markets that HPE is focusing on?

Sectors like financial services, telecom, media, public sector and manufacturing are some of the areas where HPE is marking its footprint. So certainly, a lot of our infrastructure plays horizontally, we can go into any vertical market. But where we see big opportunity and particularly in India would be in those big four verticals and that’s where we are putting all our focus as we go into FY16.

How do you see consumption of storage market in India and at APJ level?


At APJ level, there are three major trends that we are seeing in the storage industry right now. Firstly, you will continuing to see the move from traditional high-end storage into the mid-range. That is what compute did 10-15 years ago. Starting from mainframe, then there were UNIX systems and then they moved to X86. The same thing is happening right now in storage. Where the high end market last year is shrinking in double digits but the mid-range market is growing. So you can see the shift from high-end to mid-range storage and that’s absolutely accelerating here in India, probably a little more quickly than in other markets.

The second big trend is the adoption of flash storage. This trend is little bit like cloud computing which was discovered about six years ago took a few years for that to really develop. Flash storage has been a little bit the same, last year too a lot has been written about it, but the hard disk drive business is still pretty strong. We are actually seeing that transition now and in fact in Q3 we started shipping more flash capacity than 15k drives and we think you are going to see the crossover at the middle of this year for us atleast, where we will be shipping more flash than 10k drives. So flash is the fastest growing segment of the storage market. APJ has seen that transition slower than the US or Western Europe. But like many of the new technology trends, we have seen flash adoption in India being much stronger and much more aggressive.

HPE took a little bit more time to come to market with a flash solution because we thought there were some big compromises in the early flash solutions. So, if you go back three years ago, we weren’t even in the flash market. But last year we were number five. And then in Q2 we were number two. We are the fastest growing flash company on the planet. There is a lot of hype about these start-up guys, we are going faster than them.


We are at early stage of trend three,ie. the whole move to the software defined storage. And I think you are going to see software defined develop in two different ways.

For example, adoption of flash irrespective of vertical what we are seeing, in the last two quarters, there was lot of inquisitiveness, lot of query, what is the requirement of flash, but today we are seeing the CIOs whenever there is a requirement for workload like VDI or OLTP, they are coming with very specific requirement of performance and flash. They are asking very specific questions of enterprise data services in the high end flash platform. And we are seeing a huge huge opportunity and traction, all segments irrespective of the verticals. So that is number one.

Number two on the software defined you must be aware that HPE India our services, we are managing 14,000 branches on core banking across the country. Each of those branches have servers installed with huge capacity. So that is a big big opportunity for us, for distributed channel system, for automobile company, for core banking branches where we can actually go and utilize those capacity of storage and give data services which are enterprise data services through this virtual connect software. I think these are two areas where we are strategizing to move ahead in terms of deploying software defined storage and flash.


Dell has acquired EMC and they are the frontrunners in the overall solution space which includes server and enterprise storage. Since HPE is a direct competitor in this overall solution page like Dell so how do you plan to position your product and go to market strategy?

Outside HPE, there is a lot of vendor turmoil going on. If you take a look at some of our competitors which are big in one area like networking but really don't have storage presence at all. If you look at the standalone storage companies, they have all been struggling a ton. Some of the companies that went public recently, they are losing more than a dollar for every dollar of revenue. That’s a going out of business model in my opinion.

And then you look at the standalone storage companies, and a lot of them have been struggling in terms of losing market share over the last 6 to 8 quarters. I don’t just think it is a Dell and EMC dynamic, I think if look at the broader industry, outside of HPE, a lot of people have been changing their strategy and there is a lot of turmoil so I think the way we compete with all of that is that we continue to provide the stability in the leadership that we've been providing. If you look at the storage market for a second, over the last 8 quarters as per IDC we were the only major storage vendor to either gain market share or hold market share for all of those 8 quarters.


If you look at HPE, one of our biggest strengths is gaining market share is we have a single architecture in the mid-range, single architecture in the high-end, single architecture with spinning disk, same architecture from 3PAR that goes into our converged storage solutions. And that is important to customers because I don't need many people to manage it. I end up with less silos of data with better efficiency because I can use this capacity across all my systems.

If you take a look at EMC today, they have got eight or nine different architectures. And all these architectures have different codes with different operating systems, different data services and each one of those architectures represent a different silo. Then you go look at Dell which have got another three or four different architectures: PowerVault, EqualLogic, Compellent and all these are not products but a different OS, a different development team, different set of data services. So if you combine these, you are going to have 11 or 12 different architectures versus 1 from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. If you are a customer that is hugely beneficial in terms of ongoing operational savings in terms of efficiency, in terms of training your organization. So that is number 1, we’ve got a better vision we’ve got a better solution and it is showing up in the market share. By the way we have beating EMC over the last 8 quarters on market share any way before this.

So with all of this turmoil we think it does represent a good opportunity to help customers navigate through this, but that’s the architectural side and the second thing is that the customers don't want to buy a storage product in January that goes end of life in August that is a massive problem. So the big concern in customer’s mind is that if I got 10-11 different architectures, there will be product rationalization and architectural rationalization, which products are the right one going forward. To answer your question on how do we react to this. I think we sit down with our customers to help them understand their business needs and then when we think we got a better solution.

We just refreshed our 8000 and 20000 series in September. These are brand new products that have got a very long life cycle planned ahead of them that provides customers a lot of security knowing that this is a solution that is going to be here for a long term.

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