‘Our Aim Is To Be a Data Authority In The Hybrid Cloud’

BW CIO World met Deepak Visweswaraiah, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of NetApp India to discuss some of the innovations at its GCOE in Bengaluru. Deepak talks about his vision for the GCOE, which will one day become “world-class” and “second to none” as he puts it.

Photo Credit : NetApp,

Deepak Visweswaraiah, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of NetApp India

Data is the new oil for corporations. But to get the most of this ‘oil’ it should be accessible and harnessed for business insights. That is a challenge to do today’s hybrid IT and decentralised environments. The explosion of data adds to the problem.

NetApp has been in existence for 25 years and has evolved to a data management company. It has a Global Centre of Excellence (GCOE) in Bengaluru, which is doing some cutting edge work for NetApp and its customers at a global level.

BW CIO World met Deepak Visweswaraiah, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of NetApp India to discuss some of the innovations at its GCOE in Bengaluru. Deepak talks about his vision for the GCOE, which will one day offer a complete set of capabilities to the global organisation.

BW: Why has Data Management become so crucial for enterprises today?

Deepak Visweswaraiah: I read an analyst report that said 67 per cent of CIOs put digital transformation on top of their agenda. There is a shift in the underlying technology. We have seen CIOs making changes in their data centres to make data accessible, wherever and whenever it is needed.

Data is becoming diverse, distributed and dynamic. Depending on the use case, data could be stored in the service provider environments (public clouds) and on the hyperscalers like AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. There are applications that can run on one or the other environments.

CIOs have decided to run things wherever it is most economical or optimal to run. So now the data is distributed in all these different environments.
The data is also coming from different sources -- devices, IoT sensors. Data is dynamic as it keeps changing. It is also stored in silos. This is a challenge for CIOs as they do not have full visibility into all their data. And the explosion of data continues to be a problem.

People have all this data, but what do they do with it? They want to derive insights from this data for business decisions. Business models are built on data. Data has become a value proposition for companies; they derive immense value from data.

All this is driving the shifts in data management, and that’s why data management has become crucial.

BW: How have people skill sets changed in line with changing infrastructure?

Deepak Visweswaraiah: Traditionally, we used to have DBAs (Database Administrators), storage admins, system admins, app admins -- there were specific skill sets for each part of the stack. Now it is all coming together and the stacks are collapsing. People are becoming more generalist; they do not have the depth of knowledge of a specialist. Today, the same person looks at multiple parts of the stack. It's more of an IT generalist now.

As a result, customers are asking for simpler solutions as they do not have the skill sets to go deep. They do not want to struggle with configurations on a day-to-day basis. They prefer something that is pre-configured and tuned.

This is also causing a shift in the way data is managed.

Now the CIO and IT department do not make all the decisions -- the lines of business make their own IT decisions and this is resulting in shadow IT.

BW: More organisations are going in for Hybrid Cloud. How do you empower customers in the hybrid cloud?

Deepak Visweswaraiah: Our aim is to be a data authority in the hybrid cloud. There are a set of customers who are modernising their data centres, in terms of reducing footprint, and using the latest storage devices like Flash storage. They want to be more efficient in the consumption of resources, like power and cooling. There are regulatory and compliance norms. It is also about knowing who is accessing what type of information. Data security is an important aspect today, in light of what is happening today.

It is also about building new generation data centres.

There is a set of customers who want to use public clouds for new type of use cases like DevOps or analytics. We enable them to succeed by ensuring that the data is in the right places, and to move data wherever they want it, and run those workloads wherever they want it to run; and to leverage the compute capabilities of public clouds.

These are the areas where we want to help our customers harness the power of data in the hybrid cloud.

BW:  Let's talk about your GCOE in Bengaluru and some of the patents and innovations.

Deepak Visweswaraiah: Our R&D centre is based in India for the last 15 years. But we were mainly focused on engineering. In recent years, we have tried to become a holistic, multi-function site, to cover the umbrella (of capabilities) at a world-class level. We are looking beyond R&D to have a centre with product support capability, services capability, shared services and people management capabilities. We envision all of that coming together to form a world-class, Global Centre of Excellence that is second to none.

We compete through innovation. We made a decision to do 2 - 3 things really well and go deep into those areas. The data management business from a global perspective, is one of those areas. The core part of our storage operating system (OnTap) is developed in our GCOE in Bengaluru. The storage efficiency and some of the file system work is done in Bengaluru.

Thirty-five per cent of our global R&D workforce is in Bengaluru. And 35 per cent of our individual workforce has 12+ years’ experience. So we have senior technical talent.

There are 250 patents granted and 500+ filed from this centre.

Early this year, we released a product called NetApp Service Level Management, which was designed and developed in Bengaluru.

There is another innovation that came out of our India GCOE and it is Compaction. It is about compacting data. It places the right (storage) blocks in the right places. We guarantee that we can store data in one-fourth the physical space.


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