In an exclusive interview with DATAQUEST, Vivekanand Venugopal, VP and GM, Hitachi Data Systems, India, talks about the company’s legacy and its competencies to take on to the challenges of the new normal demands of IT organizations.
How do you see the year went by for HDS?
We have just come out of Q3 and we are on track in terms of revenue and profitability. We saw large mandates from the technology and other verticals and our portfolio has also changed dramatically. We are aggressively taking on to emerging tech areas like IoT and expect big growth push in the days ahead.
If you look at our partner ecosystem, it has also demanded significant changes in sync with our new portfolio. So in order to help our partners expand their revenue portfolio and outreach we have deepened their competencies to better project HDS in the marketplace. This aggressive partner skilling has resulted in overall good traction for us in the market as we are able to convey the message clearly to the clients that HDS is no longer a storage only company, and its an end to end data management company with offerings in cloud, IoT, analytics et al. So, we are changing the business model for our partners as well and that I would say has been the biggest accomplishment for us over the year.
What is HDS’ value proposition?
Today I don’t see Dell or HP as my competitor neither the IT players as our competitor. We have been in the business for 106 years in the industrial technologies. And that’s why if you look at the competitive comparison, it pales down. Our emphasis on R&D is evident from the number of patents – in big data analytics industrial IoT solutions among others we have numerous patents. I would say we are light years ahead in comparison to the competition.
Digital transformation is a buzz word- what are the opportunities you are seeing here?
We are expecting a good uptick here from the Government vertical. Whether it is Smartcity or Digital India – it offers tremendous scope for us. Secondly, within our enterprise customers, digital transformation is being driven very aggressively. So, the commitment to collaborate and co-create with them is an ongoing process.
Do you have a revenue milestone in India?
Well, there is very aggressive growth in numbers. I cannot share with you specific growth numbers but the Indian economy itself is growing and this augurs well for us and gives us immense scope to grow here.
Coming to storage, how do you see Flash panning out?
Flash is no longer just about the performance, it’s all about cost efficiencies and simplicity. And the ability to leverage that to drive cost efficiencies within the datacenter is becoming critical. So, flash complement is becoming the large part of our portfolio.
What about the TCO part of the flash, is it high?
Not really. Today, if you look at a unit cost of the traditional disk drive and compare it with flash across parameters you will see that there is at least a 90% reduction. But what has also happened is that there are a lot of efficiencies in the flash, for example, the code compression will help you achieve 1:2, 1:5 compression. Then it has got other efficiency parameters like re-duplication. So, if you take all that into consideration flash makes sense.
So the higher acquisition cost is justified by the greater ROI?
Yes. Earlier the matrix for flash was – what is the cost for an item because flash was positioned in consumer sphere. But now with the commercialization of flash and techniques from players like Hitachi has done to industrialize it has increased the affordability factor.
If you look at the demand side in India, it’s pretty heterogeneous. We have the early adopters of IT who now have a lot of legacy and siloes. Then we have the ‘leap-froggers’ who have straight away transitioned to emerging tech and cloud. And somewhere between we have enterprises having both ‘off-prem’ and ‘on prem’ and finally we have the not so tech-savvy SMB segments. How do you position yourself across this plural buyer landscape?
Interesting question. Let me explain it. Now, when you do bi-modal operations you are going to have three fundamental gaps. The first gap that you are going to have is the infrastructure gap. The infrastructure gap can help you bridge two modes of operations, one is from the modernizing your legacy by innovating and leveraging the third platform. Here come technologies like software defined infrastructure, cloud etc to fill the infrastructure gaps. So through our infrastructure strategy and our converged platform we can help solve this and bridge private and public cloud. And that again cannot be done by Hitachi in isolation; it’s done in collaboration with players like VMware. Together we virtualize the cloud. That’s how we address the infrastructure gap.
The second gap that customers are going to have is the data gap. How are they going to take data generated by legacy applications, and feed it to applications that are third platform applications, or do I take the platform application data and leverage it on my second platform infrastructure? Now the only way you could accomplish that is if you have ‘object store’. The object store helps you consolidate diverse types of data, and create a digital hub or a data hub for customers to mobilize it for not only their business, mobilize it for productivity, mobilize it for cloud transformation, mobilize it for a transition.
The third gap that customers will realize is what we call as the information gap. The information gap can only by addressed if customers can create a data link. A data link is nothing but a repository of data from different sources where customers can now apply analytics for this small data analytics, big data analytics, IoT analytics whatever it is and create information or ripples of information, that information goes back into that data link and is then leveraged by the business on a consumption, self-consumption model.
So, Hitachi has got all those three technologies today and that helps us differentiate ourselves in the market place. And if you look at all these three bridging strategies that we have for our customers, data is the foundation.
On the road ahead?
We are well positioned to offer industry solutions, leveraging the entire portfolio of Hitachi and that is not just big data, not just IoT, it cuts across areas like robotics. In sum, it’s digital transformation all the way to industrial IoT to robotics.