Steady acceptance of cloud, mobility and IoT is driving the demand for HCI: Niladri Saha, Dell EMC

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Niladri Saha, GM- Modern Infrastructure, Dell EMC India

Niladri Saha, GM- Modern Infrastructure, Dell EMC India, in an interaction with CRN, highlights the benefits of Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI), Dell EMC’s market share in the business and the adoption rate in India

How do organisations benefit by adopting the Hyper-converged Infrastructure model?

Customers across all industries can benefit from the adoption of converged systems. Organisations large and small, from all industries, who are striving to modernise their infrastructure in order to compete in today’s digital age will benefit from an integrated system and converged infrastructure environment. A hyper-converged infrastructure in particular helps customers in building, maintaining, and expanding their own IT infrastructure is risky, saps time and resources, and makes predictable scaling difficult. Managing the lifecycle becomes easier, which is otherwise complicated with multiple upgrades and dealing with multiple support organisations is too hard and takes too long. Dell EMC’s VxRail offers configure-to-order flexibility to meet any use case. From an architectural standpoint, VxRail’s key performance advantage is its ability to deliver this simplicity in a distributed enterprise starts with its tight integration between VMware vSAN and the vSphere hypervisor. This is dramatically different from other hyper-converged storage solutions that require the installation of a virtual storage appliance on each host. While, hyper-converged infrastructure is being marginally preferred for perimeter workloads, which are non-core for the business. It is also being used extensively where organisations have high scale-out requirements. With scalability and simplicity as the key parameters for customers in India, HCI appliances are a perfect fit for businesses looking to move from a “build yourself” to a “buy” model.

Dell EMC’s hyper-convergence solution has two key offerings. One is our appliance based offering, known as VxRail and the other is rack based offering called VxRack. Now, both of these categories come in two options – VMware based option wherein the end-to-end solution is based on the VMware software stack and the mixed hypervisor option wherein the customers have the flexibility to choose the kind of hypervisor that they would want to deploy. The reason for having two different options is predominantly because a big chunk of the market is tilted towards VMware hypervisor, hence; we have an offering dedicated for VMware. Also, there are a set of customers who would want to have flexibility. Thereby, we provide the second option as well.

What is the current market share of Dell EMC’s HCI business, and what is your strategy to be a market leader ?

As per IDC, Globally Dell EMC registered revenue worth US$ 363 million and a 29.6 per cent share for HCI in Q1 2018. As pre IDC, In Q2 2018, Dell Inc. was the largest supplier with US$ 418.7 million in revenue and a 28.8 per cent share globally.

Hyper-converged infrastructure witnessed a significant growth YOY and is expected to grow at CAGR of 45 per cent. We believe that the only way to maintain leadership is by ensuring customer delight. We work closely with our customers to help them transform their IT thereby, helping them to increase their productivity, performance, scalability and also reducing the footprint in their data center through our HCI solution. Adoption of hyper-converged technologies are no longer restricted to non-critical/perimeter workloads. HCI is slowly emerging in enterprise applications along with bringing new opportunities in the market.

Which are the factors driving the demand for HCI ?

Steady acceptance of cloud, mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) is driving the demand for HCI. Over the past few years, large and mid-size enterprise organisations have recognised the value of HCI due to the simplicity of deployment, ease of scaling and cost efficiencies. HCI is one of the most rapidly-growing methods for deploying IT in the data center, as IT departments seek ways to adjust to their new role in business and new responsibilities entrusted on them. HCI is now a mainstream technology for the modern data center. IT organisations are looking beyond non-mission-critical use cases for HCI deployment. They are choosing HCI for the high value it delivers to simplify infrastructure deployment and management, make more use of cloud services, scale for more data, and better support business applications. In recent years, IT organisations have looked to converged infrastructure (CI) to address their requirements. Now, many companies are instead choosing HCI, especially as part (or in lieu) of a server refresh, to provide a flexible core system for running even mission-critical applications. Companies are using HCI for multiple application workloads, including collaboration and productivity, engineering and technical, big data and analytics, and remote office computing. India is one of the forerunners in adopting new technologies like hyper-convergence.

Please share the adoption rate by the enterprise segment, in India and worldwide?

As per analysts’ view, the generic market size of hyper-convergence in India is about US$ 35 to 40 million at present. Because of its rapid year-on-year growth at the rate of 46 to 50 per cent, the market is expected to be US$ 63 to 65 million by 2019 in India alone. Worldwide-converged systems market revenue increased 19.6 per cent year over year to US$ 3.2 billion during the first quarter of 2018, according to IDC. The hyper-converged systems segment witnessed another explosive growth quarter. Revenue from the sales of these systems grew 76.3 per cent YOY during the first quarter, totaling US$ 1.2 billion worth of sales. This amounted to 38.3 per cent of the total converged systems market. Organisations around the world are increasing their investments on data center technologies that eliminate inefficient silos and support business-centric decisions rather than infrastructure-centric decisions. Hyper-convergence is expected to be the next logical step for organisations looking to improve their workloads and infrastructure, while keeping cost under control.

Please share your views about a few key HCI trends in 2018. What do you foresee will be the emerging trends in 2019 ?

The hyper-converged infrastructure had begun by converging the storage environment. Software defined storage was leading that initiative where instead of customers buying physical hardware for storage, they started encouraging installation of software for storage. Now it has gone beyond storage to compute to network and is encompassing areas of creating your own private cloud. We have an offering VxRack SDDC powered by VMware software called VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) for the same. Apart from providing hyper-convergence around storage, compute and network, it also provides customers with self-service portals. On these portals, they can put in their requirements of different business units, which gets automatically provisioned from the system based on the department’s approval. This is like an Artificial Intelligence (AI) application built into the system wherein without any manual intervention, it creates the kind of resources the department wants, delivers it and at the end of the duration, it creates a report stating how much of that, resource has been utilised by the said department. It also generates a bill on the cost to the department. IT will become more like a self-serviced division, work like an automated arm, and create better revenues for that department. However, right now, the customers have just started in this direction and not all of them are mature to adopt it. However, this would be the future of hyper-convergence. Top five trends that will drive HCI business in 2019 will be a) Business Critical Application b) Hybrid /Multi Cloud c) Disaster Recovery d) App Development and e) Edge Computing.

How mature is the Indian market for adoption of this technology ?

In India, hyper-converged infrastructure systems are attracting the largest amount of interest among the converged systems portfolio. Its software-defined approach, which abstracts the compute, storage and networking on a single plane, is a key factor for the rise of interest in HCIS. HCIS’s single-vendor support model and ability to match a large number of use cases offers greater benefits and eliminates complexity. Customers across all industries can benefit from the adoption of converged systems. Organisations large and small, from all industries, who are striving to modernise their infrastructure in order to compete in today’s digital age will benefit from an integrated system and converged infrastructure environment.

We are currently seeing multiple user groups utilise HCI in their ecosystem. These include:

  • Datacenter operations incharge : For ease of management and control
  • Software developers and analysts : For easy of configuration and testing
  • Remote offices : For ease of deployment and implementation
  • IT service providers : For ease of creation of cloud like environment
  • Offices with limited IT skills : For ease of Installation and maintenance.