Cloud-first is not a big buzzword anymore

Here is discussion about the storage trend, repatriation of cloud workload and the potential of the on-premise data storage market, and data security issues

CIOL Bureau
New Update
Pratyush Khare

As the Vice President of Systems Engineering for Pure Storage in Asia Pacific and Japan, Pratyush Khare leads a team of systems engineers to provide pre-sales support to customers looking for modern data solutions in their digital transformation journeys. An industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in enterprise technologies, he has worked with leading cloud, infrastructure, software, and applications companies across APAC, India, and the US. In an online interaction with Shubhendu Parth, he talks about the storage trend, repatriation of cloud workload and the potential of the on-premise data storage market, and data security issues. Excerpts from the interview:


How has storage technology evolved during the last two years, particularly in the post-lockdown normal, where organisations are gravitating towards digitalisation in a big way?

COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital transformation projects and that has worked well for us. It reflects in our revenue. We have registered year-on-year quarterly growth of 29%, 50%, and 30% respectively during the last three quarters, unlike the overall storage industry which is growing in single digits. From the digital transformation perspective, we need to understand what the CIOs are going through. They are under a lot of pressure because no separate budget is being created for digital transformation.

We are working with a few large telcos in the United States and Japan as storage providers for their 5G rollout, both on the core side and the edge.


Instead, it is getting carved out from their existing IT budgets. In other words, the CIOs are expected to be more efficient with how they run the operation. These efficiencies and gains help them free part of their IT budgets, which then gets channelised towards digital transformation initiatives.

We play very well in that space. Our design principle ensures that Pure Storage solutions are simple and easier to manage. This brings in the required efficiency in the system. Also, we do not force customers to buy storage after every five years or at the end of the product life; that is a big budget for any company. Our Evergreen range of products allows organisations to buy once and pay a flat fee as a subscription for new hardware and upgrades that bring in certainty in terms of their budget and spending. Overall, the demand for digital transformation has allowed us to shine brighter with the strengths that we always had.

“Our Evergreen range of products allows organisations to buy once and pay a flat fee as a subscription for new hardware and upgrades.”


Talking about technology, how do you look at the evolving enterprise need to manage the massive volume of data, which is growing by the day?

There are a couple of things and the number one among them is data analytics. Digital transformation is really about organisations trying to figure out how they can leverage data to engage better with their customers and increase revenues. This means crunching a lot of data using AI and ML. It also means organisations need a storage system to match the performance of AI and ML applications. Hence, there is a huge jump in the consumption and demand for our all-flash array (AFA) to meet the AI and ML application needs.

“Organisations need a storage system that can match the performance of AI and ML applications. This is driving the demand and consumption of all-flash arrays.”


We are also seeing businesses launching new applications as part of their digital transformation initiative. Most of them are cloud-native; they are containerised applications not born in the virtualised world. One might think of it as an application trend with no bearing on infrastructure, but that is not true. Businesses are now asking for persistent storage for containerised applications, which is not what containers do naturally since they are designed for formal storage. In 2019, we acquired Port Works which allows us to engage and help customers with containerised applications. So that's the second big trend that we are seeing on the data side.

Then there is a growing concern about increasing energy prices. The spinning drives, which were quite viable before the energy prices went up, have suddenly become very expensive because they generate a lot of heat. This means enterprises have to spend more on energy to cool their data centres. In terms of TCO, our all-flash array offers a more attractive option when we talk about optimisation of power utilised, and cooling and space cost. Our solution can help reduce the power consumption of storage systems by up to 80%. Besides, the data centre can reduce its carbon footprint by up to 92% by using AFA.

We have also seen a massive uptake in the adoption of the cloud and research indicates that more data is being stored in the cloud than on-premise. How do you see the trend in the days to come?


The public cloud has been a reality for 5–6 years now. But our growing revenue indicates that enough data is being stored on-premises. Cloud's growing rapidly, but cloud-first is not a big buzzword anymore. It has evolved slightly and now organisations are talking about “cloud value” or “cloud fit”. Today, organisations are assessing their workload to determine whether the cloud will provide value and whether it is a good fit. Public cloud adoption is certainly going up, but I am also seeing repatriation of the cloud workloads; customers are bringing their workloads back because the network that is required to pull the data is proving too expensive. Hence, I think hybrid will continue to stay for a long time.

On the other side, we are also witnessing the supply chain challenges that the compute vendors or the networking vendors are faced with. Fortunately, because of the design, Pure Storage does not have any supply chain challenges. Our lead time is still four to six weeks for delivery, which can be as high as six months to one year for computing and networking companies. Cloud providers are using that as an opportunity to advise organisations to migrate to the cloud instead of waiting. I see that as a transient trend. However, as the supply chain issues start to die down, things will become more normal.

Since India has started to roll out 5G, what impact will it have on enterprise data storage needs and infrastructure? What is Pure Storage doing to help enterprises on this front?


5G is quite an important trend for us in three different ways. We are engaging with large telcos in the world, helping them roll out their 5G network because it requires the underlying storage infrastructure. We are working with one of the largest telcos in the United States and two of the largest telcos in Japan as storage providers for their 5G rollout, both on the core side and the edge. We are even more uniquely positioned because on the edge, telcos may not have the IT staff or the expertise to manage the storage. Hence the simplicity of the solution makes Pure Storage the right fix for the telcos’ needs. That's one area where we are seeing huge revenues coming from.

We also help customers manage the data that is created. With more connected devices 5G will lead to much more data simply because the networks are going to allow it. Hence, customers will need more storage to effectively manage and analyse the data. So, it fits very well in the traditional enterprise storage solutions business that we are in. The third area is the edge location. 5G will lead to an explosion of data being generated at the Edge location. The Pure Storage solution can pack petabytes of data in a few units. It is simple to manage and comes with a remote cloud management portal that allows organisations to easily manage data on the edge side.

Security is another major concern that needs to be addressed as the volume of data grows and organisations are deploying storage products with baked-in security capabilities. What is Pure Storage’s approach?


We need to understand different aspects from the data security point of view. If we find there is a security vulnerability at the software end, we fix it at our end. Next, we need to push the software upgrade on all arrays connected to our cloud management platform enabling them to access the software upgrade almost instantly. Of course, being an enterprise-grade array, customers have the option to decide whether they want to apply the patch or not. That's the speed with which we can deploy the security vulnerability fixes.

On the hardware side, since performance is not a problem for us, everything is encrypted by default and cannot be disabled. It's an architectural decision we made on the hardware side. When the flash drives are cycled out, the customer may return the flash drives to us or they may keep them. But they are concerned about the security of data that once resided in it. We provide the ability to wipe the drives before the customer pulls them out in a way that no traces of any data is left behind. This is part of the standard feature of the array.

The third aspect is ransomware attacks. Our arrays have inbuilt capabilities to deal with that. In most cases of cyberattacks, hackers try to delete immutable snapshots. When they cannot do so, they take it as a challenge, and at times they can bypass the immutability. Our storage management software does not challenge the attacker. Instead, it allows them to delete the snapshot and lets them believe that the job is done. However, the deleted snapshots are moved to a secret recycled bin that attackers are not aware of because it can be accessed only with the use of an OTP. This helps us recover the data from the snapshots. Besides, the systems are designed for rapid recovery and restoration. It's been a very popular solution in the last three years, especially during the times of Covid when the ransomware attacks increased phenomenally.

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