Software-defined datacenter and hybrid cloud are the need of the hour: Vikram K, HPE

While datacenters are becoming more software defined, hybrid cloud is a safe bet for Indian enterprises, says Vikram K, Director, Servers, HPE India.

As enterprises are gearing up for digital transformation, datacenters are also evolving. It won't be long before we see software-defined datacenters becoming the new normal and enterprises increasingly moving various workloads to the cloud. Vikram K, Director - Servers, HPE India, spoke to ComputerWorld about the emerging enterprise IT landscape.

How do you see datacenters in India evolving over the next couple of years?

The first trend is that a bunch of the analytics which were the core of datacenters has now moved to the edge which has sensor-related aggregation plus machine learning aspects. We can now democratize the datacenter in such a way that the system administrator can perform storage and compute functions inside one box with no special learning required. Effectively compute itself is becoming function and workload specific by getting software defined, leading the datacenters to become software defined. 

So how do you see HPE playing out in this domain, moving forward?

It’s been a significant ramp for the last four quarters. We have been in an excess of 40 to 44 percent as per some market research firms because we’ve had a series of innovations which are around very specific customer focused areas. So there isn’t a segment or a pocket either by the intensity of scaling, the intensity of compute or even power and cooling that we left unattended to and hence we fit into all verticals and segments across. Be it oil and gas, academia, research institutes, manufacturing and smart city projects, we have a reach in all the segments because of the fact that we have a highly structured salesforce which is very vertical-centric and we have augmented the teams over a period of time, kept the core constant, and added more value through both technology and ISVs.

There seems to be a lot of interest among enterprises around cloud, while there are also concerns in terms of security. What in your view would be the key drivers of cloud adoption? 

The lack of infinite resources in organizations makes cloud inevitable. Most of the functions related to employee productivity and expense need to be available on devices and not necessarily on the PC. These functions cannot be inside the firewall of the company but has to be accessible by somebody doing business outside. Therefore by this virtue, many of the companies have already embraced cloud. One of our basic principle is “buy the baseline” which means that that over a period of one year I will need certain amount of compute and will use this compute largely and hence I cannot let it out of my premises. The second part of the principle is “rent the peak” which is if at all I am overshooting this resource which I have in-house, I will eventually rent it out to the cloud provider in a controlled environment. Buy the base and rent the peak is something which helps customers adopt hybrid faster. While they know that they need some amount of private cloud which is available to employees, they never want to get into a situation where it is not available. We can witness many enterprises adopting hybrid cloud based on this philosophy. 

Many large enterprises still have their legacy systems. How easy or difficult will be the transition to software-defined data center?

We are trying different domains where we can do almost anything including functions like routing, switching and firewall. Within India, at least from the interactions which we had with the customers, a large part of the software definition still exists within the storage and the compute pieces. The functions which we are now going to incorporate are largely related to network functions. With virtualization and cloud kicking in long back, most of the datacenters that are hosted by cloud service provider or a telco would have large part of its functions already software defined. On the enterprise end, people who have a datacenter to support their business are in an era where experimentation is on. We are now making sure that any platform which we develop has the software-defined element right from scratch. Therefore, telco and cloud service providers have been leading the movement in India and across the globe, whereas the enterprise segment is evolving with proof of concept and testing underway.

The IT industry, as always, has been throwing a lot of new concepts like IoT and big data at enterprise users. How ready are they to embrace these concepts ?

We are an industry where these jargons have existed for over a decade. Some of these jargons, in my opinion always existed, they just had a newer clature to it. CIOs are now in a learning phase as to how to use a digital trace and analyze the data which has been acquired over the last few years about customers, inventories which resides on their machines and the datacenters. These insights from the data are making CIOs more agile. Earlier, we used to keep platters of data in mainframes. There used to be a room full of these because we had to archive it for audit purposes. But now it’s not required as we already have a digital print of the database which we can review and use more intelligently.

Is there a pattern to cloud adoption in India? Would you be able to categorize the early adopters in terms of size or industry?

Any enterprise would look into a hybrid cloud today because they know that certain applications cannot be served to mobile devices from a silo behind the firewall infrastructure. So they have to move to the cloud. Beyond my employees are my supply chain vendors and my distribution channel and if I have a way to connect all of them by giving them firewall controlled access to the cloud, it will essentially help the business to become much faster and efficient. Beyond certain organizations who have data management guidelines which are very strict, almost every enterprise is getting into hybrid cloud. Therefore adoption is full scale, it’s just a matter of who does it when.