It’s slightly disorienting when NetApp executives talk about hybrid cloud data services. Traditionally a data storage player, NetApp, one of America’s largest public companies, has transformed itself to become a data authority in the hybrid cloud world.
The company, with a market cap of $11.1 billion, now provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation.
Earlier this month, the company unveiled a new Data Visionary Engineering Center (DVEC) in India to empower Asia-Pacific customers and partners to collaborate, innovate, educate and drive digital transformation across Asia-Pacific.
Located within the NetApp Global Center of Excellence in the company’s sprawling Bangalore campus, the new APAC DVEC offers an interactive, high-touch experience to its customers and partners.
The DVEC in Bangalore joins three other such DVECs–one at the company’s global headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, one in North Carolina and another at the company’s European headquarters in Amsterdam. With the first such center in the Asia Pacific region, the company aims to empower APAC customers and partners to transform the world with data.
Who is a Data Visionary?
When I met the senior executives of NetApp on the sidelines of the inauguration, Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC, introduced me to the concept of a “data visionary.”
“He’s a CDO (Chief Data Officer) or a CIO (Chief Information Officer)… someone who has insights and access to data,” he explains. “Data-driven digital transformation accelerates business outcomes.”
NetApp believes that today’s leaders will have to become data visionaries in order to transform their organizations, create new customer touchpoints, innovate to take advantage of market opportunities and optimize operations. The DVEC will allow these data visionaries to experience NetApp’s latest products and services in a real-time problem-solving scenario.
The Indian market
Deepak Visweswaraiah, Vice President & Managing Director, NetApp India explained why the company chose Bangalore, a city dubbed as the Silicon Valley of India, for its first DVEC in the Asia-Pacific region.
The NetApp campus in Bangalore is the company’s largest center outside of the United States and has go-to-market capability, large engineering capacity, senior engineering and management talent, as well as large support functions. End-to-end, several products have been conceived, developed, and delivered out of the Bangalore campus.
According to Visweswaraiah, while already a Global Centre of Excellence, the DVEC was the last missing piece in the puzzle to make the Bangalore campus a microcosm of NetApp HQ in a way.
The DVEC aims to bridge the gap between business and IT and allows organizations to discuss robust solutions that aid transformation, accelerate growth and reduce costs. “Bangalore has engineering facilities of global organizations like Qualcomm, Boeing, Airbus, so on and so forth, and hence the city’s a great choice for the first DVEC in the region,” Anil added. It’s a testimony of the vibrancy of the market and the large pool of engineering talent in the country.
India is a big market for NetApp and growing at 6-8% year-on-year according to the company. There’s obviously a lot of activity around cloud because of the thriving startup ecosystem and the enterprising finance sector.
The third biggest reason is the multiple billions of dollars that the government of India is spending on digital transformation. Traditionally, India’s government spends less than 1% of its Gross Development Product (GDP) on citizen services, however, this has increased to the global standard of 2-2.5% now, of which data storage and management is a big part.
All this while, banks have been averse to adopting cloud because of regulatory issues and security concerns. But increasingly, while they continue to have their internet banking and anti-money laundering infrastructure on-premise, they’ve offloaded activities like marketing campaigns to the public cloud since the latter does not require customers’ financial information.
According to Anil, most organizations in India have this style of hybrid approach.
One of the company’s largest customers is the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and is completely on-premise. Much of the country’s space agency’s data would be presumably classified information. Similarly, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has seismic data that they host on-premise, although they archive some data in the cloud.
Then there’s a new age bank like IDFC Bank that has gone partially to the cloud and envisions moving further to the cloud. Of course, there are some startups that are completely in the cloud since the pay-per-use approach works in favor of early-stage startups from a cost perspective.
When Deepak called NetApp a “cloud-first” company, I interjected and said it was surprising to hear a data storage and management company positioning itself as a cloud company. Even though cloud was a threat to pure-storage players like NetApp, “instead of turning away from the cloud, we ran to the cloud,” Deepak asserts.
NetApp, in more ways than one, is a data company–irrespective of whether that data is stored on flash storage within the walls of an organization or on a public cloud infrastructure. With its 25-year legacy of managing data, the company now aims to help its customers and partners in India and APAC at its Data Visionary Engineering Center to embrace the opportunities presented by new technologies.