With the exponential growth of data happening across cloud, at the Edge, and at the endpoints. The storage companies like Western Digital are gearing up to play a much bigger role in meeting the growing need for data. Speaking exclusively to CRN India, Guruswamy Ganesh, Senior Vice President of the Flash Products Group at Western Digital and Supria Dhanda, Country Manager and Vice President, Western Digital India share the global trends and India’s contribution to the business
Can you give us an overview after Western digital acquired strong storage brands like HGST and Sandisk, in terms of product integration, customer and partners?
Ganesh Guruswamy: Western Digital acquired HGST around 2012 and while we were integrating HGST in 2015, we acquired SanDisk. The key reason behind the acquisition of SanDisk was to become the largest provider of persistent storage. With the acquisition of SanDisk, Western Digital can offer both hard drives and flash storage. With the growth of data that is happening at different levels, at the cloud, Edge, and endpoint, we are seeing a lot of industry segments now relying on data to make a lot of decisions.
Now everybody relies on data to make decisions and how you access data based on all the analysis is key because a lot of data gets generated as cold data. Then there is hot data where data is real-time, wherein the data needs to be connected to the user as fast as they want, as soon as they can get it. From a global perspective, Western Digital has been able to scale both the hardware on the flash side and is able to provide storage across all these platforms.
Today, we have around 70,000 people worldwide, and we have design centers and manufacturing operations world over. Additionally, we have more than 14,000 powerful patents. Half the world’s data is stored on our devices. We will continue to look at India uniquely because data gets generated where there are people.
With data becoming the new currency, what sort of transformation are you undergoing on technology and products front?
Supria Dhanda: We were earlier a traditional investment storage company, but we are now choosing to call ourselves as the one that enables data infrastructure, the entire value generation and storing the data. We want to be at each point, right from the core to cloud – from hybrid to Edge.
How do you look at the data generation in India; do you see any unique challenges?
Ganesh Guruswamy: The journey is starting. The government is trying to figure out what policies to put in. Data is very sensitive, so companies are concerned about how data is going to be used and it is stored. Each country is different, hence architectures are going to be different as well. However, we are positioned to cater to every architecture. We provide thought leadership and guidance.
Monetising data is one of the biggest challenges of CIO and CTOs. How are you addressing this?
Ganesh Guruswamy: Each of the customers is unique and each of them has their own way of architecting their infrastructure. We provide the solutions that are customised to them. We guide them and figure out how to make the right solution for them. We also show them the limitations of technology, storage and then guide how the architecture needs to be built.
Supria Dhanda: We have a huge role to play in how CIOs and CTOs are looking at the entire architecture of big data. A lot of things are important to them – capacity, efficiency, total cost optimisation. Now customers need our help in defining their data strategy. We are in a unique position to be able to guide on that because we know how their entire data flow.
Over the years, how have storage products evolved?
Ganesh Guruswamy: We went from two-dimensional to three-dimensional flash because we need to generate more density. We figured out the technology to go to 3D flash and now we are able to scale 3D flash for higher storage capacities. The hard drive industry has placed a similar challenge. They were going with CMR technology and the aerial density started to be a challenge and now we come with SMR technology. We believe that zettabyte is almost gone; you will see yottabyte data centers, and this is basically 10 to the power of 23 zeroes for storage.
What are your expansion plans for the Indian market?
Supria Dhanda: We have a significant presence in India. We have the entire design development across all the products, we are 2,700 people strong and still growing. The investment largely is about US$ 200 million and growing, which is significant. We have looked at India traditionally as an R&D capability design. We see a lot of opportunities for data center infrastructure to grow. Thus, we are partnering with the entire ecosystem of the industry as well as with the government. As India exponentially grows, we also tend to increase our footprint. India as a market is a journey that we are looking at in the next three to five years.