Interview

AI is set to become a norm in Asia-Pacific, where the year 2019 is all about AI becoming a reality

In conversation with Kaushal Veluri, Director-Channels & Alliances, NetApp India & SAARC, talks about the emergence of AI and the future plans of NetApp.

How do you expect the year 2019 to be for India from the industry growth perspective?

Data proliferation has increased massively in the last decade. Organizations are investing heavily in digital transformation to gain the ability to swiftly adapt and outperform their competitors with the use of crucial data insights. The year 2019 will be a continuum of what we have been doing in 2018. Our aim is to start making customers more data driven and enable their digital transformation. It is all about making sure that the customers understand where their data is, how to manage and analyse, and get insights from it. We will also continue to encourage customers to leverage cloud, flash and hyper-converged infrastructure.

Which verticals are likely to invest more in 2019?

In 2019, we expect investments from the banking and financial services (BFSI) sector followed by the government. We are seeing substantial need to adopt technology at a faster pace in these segments. The government segment has been primarily driven by the various Smart City and Digital India initiatives. Healthcare is also expected to be a significant vertical in 2019.

Which technologies are going to gain prominence in 2019, thereby gaining more investment from the industry?

We believe 2019 will be all about Artificial Intelligence coming into reality. AI is set to become a norm in Asia Pacific, with 55% of organizations in the region already implementing or are expanding the use of AI this year. The momentum of growth in deploying cloud-based AI software and service tools will increase tremendously. There will be a need to deliver high performance and scalability across environment and in varied new data formats. This can only be fulfilled by hybrid flash solutions which will deliver fast, resilient, and automated infrastructures. According to industry reports, the adoption of hybrid cloud workloads in India will more than triple to 43% from 13% in the next 24 months. Hybrid cloud will provide the flexibility, simplicity and cost reduction which will lead to better ROI for businesses.

How will the Enterprise Storage market evolve in 2019?

In 2019, we predict four ways in which the enterprise storage market will evolve:

 

  • Cloud will bolster AI development – AI is set to become the norm. Organizations are expected to increasingly deploy cloud-based AI software and service tools in 2019, to ensure that AI applications deliver high performance and scalability, both on and off premises, and support multiple data access protocols and varied new data formats.

 

    • Edge devices will get smarter – Asia Pacific is expected to house 8.6 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2020 and become the world’s largest 5G region with 675 million 5G connections by 2025. To take advantage of the resulting data deluge, organizations will need the ability to process data at the edge to quickly gain insights and make real-time decisions.

 

  • Hybrid, multi-cloud will be the default IT architecture – This will be true for most of the larger organizations while others will choose the simplicity and consistency of a single cloud provider. By 2024, 90 percent of the G1000 organizations will mitigate vendor lock-in through multi and hybrid cloud technologies.

 

  • Data services will be invisible, and apps will no longer need to move – Since the rise of containers will result in the trend towards abstraction of individual systems and services, it will drive IT architects to design for data and data processing and to build hybrid, multi-cloud data fabrics rather than just data centers. In 2019 we will also see the emergence of container-based cloud orchestration technologies that enable hybrid cloud app development.

How does NetApp envisage the year from new technology and new market coverage point of view?

We are seeing huge growth potential in digital businesses especially in healthcare and e-commerce sectors. Businesses are now adopting apps to provide better customer experience. Customers are using apps for everything be it shopping, reading news, making payments or entertainment. As for new technologies, Artificial intelligence is the future of digital business, as it has the potential to transform everything from business operations to the customer experience. Organisations are now looking forward to use AI to process massive amounts of unstructured data to gather insights. This will also be one of the key reasons for organisations to opt for cloud first, mobile first and flash first strategy next year.

What kind of potential challenges do you foresee for the year from the Enterprise storage point of view?

We are seeing the increased adoption of AI in Asia-Pacific. However, as per a Forrester study on AI, the adoption is going to be little challenging and will hinder organisational abilities to take advantage of the many benefits AI technology promises to offer. One of the biggest challenges will be gathering and integrating data from different sources. Organisations looking to adopt AI might also struggle to overcome operational issues and identify the right technology or service partners. The best way to deal with these challenges is for the CIOs to choose partners who offer expertise in data management as well as in building precise and effective models, so they can get started towards making the most of everything AI has to offer.

What are the major CIO challenges for 2019? How would you mitigate differently from the competition?

The foremost challenge for the CIOs facing today is how to manage the onslaught of data. From assessing existing/legacy infrastructures to migrating to new technologies like AI and cloud, today’s CIOs are mainly concerned about whether to store their data in private/public/hybrid cloud and efficient data management.  This is where NetApp, with its data fabric strategy, is effectively helping CIOs manage their data across hybrid cloud infrastructure. Whether customers are on-premise, public cloud, hybrid environment or co-located. It helps organisations to manage that data more effectively with a layer of Data Fabric which helps them to adopt a multi-cloud strategy, manage data between data centres and cloud.

Are there any channel specific growths that you are expecting?

For NetApp, India is a critical market in the Asia-Pacific region. The channel partners play an important role in its go-to-market strategy. We always ensure that partners are empowered with the right skillset and trained to confidently position the company in the market. We have very rich and comprehensive partner programs which will help our partners to invest in sales and marketing related activities so that they could further reach out to new customers, new space or cities or markets where we have not been before.

For 2019, We plan to make sure that our partners understand the data story completely – be it management of data, whether it is on-premises, on cloud, or hybrid infrastructure, and ensure that the data flows seamlessly in all of these, and finally, the customers can get insights from it.

What kind of turnover and market share growth are you expecting for the year 2019 globally and in India?

Over the years, NetApp’s performance has been consistent both globally and in India. This year’s Q2 results reflect the clear differentiation of our technology and the strength of our business model. India remains one of the fastest growing market in APAC. The scale and growth here are a big promise for us to overtake larger economies. If we grow between 10% and 15% every year, we will double the size in every 3-4 years, and hence will overtake large economies which are witnessing low growth rates.

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