In an exclusive interview, Kamal Kashyap, Director, India – Storage Business Unit, HPE India tells CRN India about the company’s growing demand of wide storage portfolio and its applications in the data driven IT environments
You have been with HPE for the last 21 years and have recently stepped into storage business. How exciting is this role compared to your last portfolios?
I joined HPE from the campus way back in 2000 and since have been managing various roles. Recently, about a quarter back, I moved into this role where I am responsible for the storage business at HPE India. Prior to joining the storage business unit, I was responsible for the public sector vertical.
Government remains one of the biggest priorities and engagements from a HPE perspective across the globe and also in India. We have done various projects with the government not just from our industry leading infrastructure perspective like storage and edge which is driven by our Aruba portfolio. We do a whole lot of system integration work for the government, are engaged in multiple mission critical platform projects for the government, which are e-transformative in nature and that is the space where we usually restrict ourselves to from a system integration perspective, which are complex and have a huge impact on the customer’s digital transformation agenda.
When I stepped into storage, I was also curious to understand how this is taking me in. But I was pleasantly surprised from a portfolio perspective it is so wide and we cover every spectrum of the entire data journey from a customer perspective, providing platform for it or solution for it also an overall cohesive view of how a customer organization views data irrespective of whether it is getting generated at the edge, through their customer interactions, through their internal interactions, or ERP or compliance related structure so what I found it was really very exciting from a HPE perspective to be in the storage role for now.
Specifically, due to the recent events, massive amount of focus and attention from the organisations in terms of their own digital transformation journey and when they look at that then data becomes one of the key elements in terms of how they plan their whole transformation, adding channels interactions to the customers, which is now digital first kind of organisation, in short very exciting.
With cloud migration and application modernisation, how do you see the overall positioning of storage in the enterprise space?
There is a huge amount of thrust in terms of digital transformation for organisations, not just for organisations born in the cloud, because there is a plethora of such organisations which started their journey, were incepted, and conceived and are operating in that space, but also the traditional organisations. From a storage perspective, there are some key trends. First, the whole edge to cloud story is now becoming real. While this applies to other parts of the IT infrastructure and application transformation, it applies to the data point of view substantially more.
So you have now these organisations, specifically who have a distributed kind of environment, where a lot of interactions, from their own customer perspective, or data generation perspective is actually happening at the edge. The volume of data in an enterprise is bound to grow, and we provide various technology solutions to handle this growth. Our storage solutions span across traditional mission critical SAN and NAS products, Object Storage, Back-up & Archive, Software Defined and HCI technologies. From an organisation perspective, we are looking at solutions HPE SimpliVity, a HCI solution. We work with a lot of retail organisations and whole lot of them have deployed HPE SimpliVity solutions across the globe and in India in their various front end customer interaction points of presence.
The solutions also need to be free of infrastructure hassles, because nobody has the capability to deploy people with IT skills at those places. So you need to have a solution, which must be much easier to manage, and can be managed from a centralised location. The solution must be intelligent, and protect them against data loss and the associated risk. And this is where HPE SimpliVity comes in. We have deployed SimpliVity across many retail chains globally. Staples Solutions is just one of hundreds of major organizations across the world entrusting HPE SimpliVity for the enterprise edge environments.
Can you tell us about the storage solutions that are getting traction in organisations?
All organisations need an intelligent data platform, because that’s how we see customers, or any organisation for that matter, are going to view their data because they would want to track it from inception to archival, and they would want to have not just access to it at any point of time, but they, they want to be able to use it in terms of actionable insights. We also have a strong value proposition in HPE Nimble Storage dHCI. Traditionally, from a classic hyper converged infrastructure, if every time you want to add just the capacity on storage, you also have to add a little bit of compute. But the minute you go to HPE Nimble Storage dHCI you get two benefits. One is that you are able to grow in a disaggregated fashion on compute and storage. So if you need more compute, if you need more processing power, you could kind of add that and stay at the same capacity, or you could add capacity in independent of the compute growth. We also have had great success in the ultra low latency kind of environments.
We also have experienced good demand from a big data perspective. From a classical infrastructure perspective, we have a lot of global partnerships, and we leverage these relationships and technologies to help our customers run their infrastructure more efficiently. We also have a scale out architecture, which allows organisations to grow, while pulling a lot of structured and unstructured data, and analysing them cost effectively. Additionally, given the accelerated digital transformation that we are seeing across organisations, there’s a whole lot of demand for data protection, as well as archival stuff.
Customers also have a lot more regulatory requirements, which were earlier specific industries, which handled the financial data, but today, more and more industries are being either self-regulated, or there are government guidelines in terms of how they should be handling both internal data as well as any customer data. This is driving the demand for data protection, data recovery and archival. Our promise to every customer is our 100 per cent data availability guarantee, which is a promise that we make to every Primera storage customer. Today, there are several customers who have actually enjoying that benefit across the country. From a SimpliVity perspective, we have enhanced data protection options, which are available on cloud or on premise.
Do you see any sector specific storage related trends?
For us at HPE, the advantage of having a really large, robust wide portfolio is that there is a solution for every segment and every complexity and every price point and every workload. And that’s our mantra from a storage perspective. We call it ‘Follow the Workload’, which is to actually have an engagement with the customer in terms of the kind of workload environment that they’re having. And accordingly engage on a solution that fits that workload. So, we could be talking about in the same customer environment, which is really mission critical. We have Nimble for our customers who are looking at business critical availability solutions. We have HPE Apollo which is purpose built for Big Data. We have the combination of Synergy and Primera, which promises greater agility, resiliency and scalability. We are also seeing good demand coming in from organisations that have distributed sites. This includes sectors such as retail, hospitals, financial services and also manufacturing. For example, with HPE SimpliVity, we have built in data production with zero administration hassles. In manufacturing TVS Motors in India uses our HCI solutions across multiple sites. This solution is an all in one appliance, it has smallest footprint possible, it has in built data protection.
While most organisations are aware of digital transformation, data and cloud, but storage is something that normally is not in the conversation. How are you ensuring the critical value of storage?
It’s a data driven world. The whole digital transformation is driven by data. So one is, of course, the app side of it, and the other is the data side. These are two sides of the story, when you possibly simplify it. This is where the customers are actually putting a whole lot of stress in terms of how easily can they manage the data. At HPE, there is this whole layer, which cuts across most of our storage portfolio called HPE InfoSight, which is an AI engine to put in simplified terms, it’s an artificial intelligence for our entire storage in terms of managing the volatile infrastructure in as responsible fashion as possible. This includes bringing in the power of cloud based machine learning, driving global intelligence, in terms of getting insights for infrastructures across compute, storage, and other virtual sources. And that gives the customers a huge amount of power in terms of when they are actually looking at getting the most out of their data. So, it just does not help in terms of a high level of availability, because now from an ML perspective, the solution keeps on probing millions of HPE storage devices across the globe and picks up insights in terms of any pre failures, or any problem. This is extremely valuable when you have environments, which have containers, which have virtual machines, which also have bare metal, multiple flavours of operating systems and hypervisors. With this intelligent solution, a customer theoretically has an access to the entire database from across the globe, which guides them in terms of a problem and quickly points to a solution. HPE is taking the lead in terms of how do we bring intelligence into our own storage solutions.
Lastly, can you share 2-3 emerging storage trends?
If one looks at it, there are a few big trends. One is that there is a very high growth in unstructured data across sectors. For example, we are seeing huge growth in biometric related data and video related data. Customers would naturally need solutions to handle this unstructured data, by analysing this data, and driving actionable insights. We are also seeing a big containerisation wave, accompanied by the need for data protection. Technologies such as NVMe, will make a huge impact. Architectures like Primera, which are kind of architected to leverage these technologies to the hilt, will be in huge demand.
The world is also going to be hybrid, and we will see more organisations explore the choice of backing up their data on the cloud. That said, every organisation, even if they can have possibly, let’s say, running up large part of their infrastructure on the cloud would want to have maybe a copy from a compliance perspective, or a data protection perspective, or a data retrieval and availability perspective on premise. So, it’s going to be a hybrid world, and we are going to a see a whole lot of growth on storage.