Sumir Bhatia, Dell South Asia, on the future of data centres in the region
Thu 16 Oct 2014
Sumir Bhatia, General Manager, Enterprise Solutions, at Dell South Asia, talks to The Stack about growth of the data centre industry in the region, as well as the importance of leveraging efficient technologies to enable business development and to effectively manage the increasing demand from big data and cloud.
What do you see as the main challenges involved with data centre management in the South Asian market?
South Asia is a diverse market with multiple countries and different levels of IT maturity, from more developed to emerging markets. However, across the board, there are three key factors in data centre management: the first is finding talent and skillsets; the second is migrating applications from legacy or custom environments to standard x86; the third is investing in new technologies and solutions to drive data centre efficiency. Getting the right skillsets and talent is paramount to all three.
According to a very recent Gartner study, 80 per cent of companies will find that their growth becomes stunted from a lack of up-to-date data centre skills and training. Gartner also notes that in today’s fast-paced digital era, planning and management skills within IT teams are no longer sufficient to meet business needs. The analyst firm estimates that by 2016, the lack of appropriate management skills for horizontally scaled architectures will be a major pressure and restraint on growth.
How do you see technology evolving in South Asian data centres over the next five years?
From a Dell perspective, we strongly advocate technologies that are based on open architecture without proprietary lock-ins; capable of running workloads efficiently on both virtual and physical machines/servers; and solutions that are scalable based on business growth and needs. We expect technology to evolve along these lines because data centres need to be agile, smart and efficient to handle analytics, big data and cloud.
Another Gartner study reveals that business priorities and investments in big data technologies continue to expand. It found that 73 per cent of respondents had invested or were planning on investing in big data over the next 24 months – an increase of 9 per cent since 2013.
How is Dell South Asia working to enable and encourage business growth in the region?
The Asia-Pacific region is one of the fastest growing globally. New emerging economies within South Asia, such as Indo-China, Indonesia and Philippines are growing fast from a relatively small base.
Dell partners with customers, channel partners and system integrators to help companies and government organisations in their journey to the cloud and big data – two of the hottest topics for CIOs and CTOs. For cloud and big data to be effective, the data centre has to be agile, allow fresh-air cooled servers, easy migration of workloads, and an open and scalable converged architecture. It is critical to work across the C-level spectrum, engaging with CEOs, CIOs and CFOs because cloud and big data conversations merge IT and business needs.
A recent study claims that CIOs must work with the CFO and other business executives to ensure that critical IT is tackled early in strategy and budgeting.
“In the past, the use of IT to support the business came almost as an afterthought, long after the business strategy and strategic initiatives for the coming period had been designed and sanctioned by top management,” according to the Gartner report.
IT has now been promoted from being a mere support feature to being essential to business growth and creation. Engaging and getting business buy-in early in the strategic planning process therefore becomes critical in ensuring successful implementation of cloud and big data projects that will enable business growth.
Do you feel that Dell’s storage and server business will ever overtake its desktop/notebook success?
Today, Dell is doing for the enterprise what it did for PCs 30 years ago – making solutions accessible and affordable for businesses of all sizes. We are already seeing successes in our enterprise solutions business. International Data Corp (IDC) recently ranked Dell the no.1 storage supplier worldwide in the first half of 2014, based on total terabytes sold (IDC Asia/Pacific External and Internal Disk Storage Systems Tracker, Q2 2014 – Sept 2014 release). We are picking up steam on both internal and external storage, and as demand for integrated storage and server solutions increases, Dell is poised for high growth particularly with the new 13th generation PowerEdge servers optimized for high-intensity workloads.
In the x86 server market, Dell is tied for the no.1 position in Asia/Pacific including Japan by unit shipments in Q2 2014 (IDC’s Asia/Pacific Quarterly x86 Server Strategist Tracker 2Q 2014, August 2014 release).
IDC forecasts that the big data technology and services market will grow at a 27% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to US$32.4 billion through 2017 globally – or about six times the growth rate of the overall information and communication technology (ICT) market. Although the exact path of cloud is ambiguous and many demand and supply variables are unsettled, IDC suggest that the market will witness strong growth over the next five years.
What are Dell’s green data centre initiatives across South Asia?
Dell began integrating sustainability features into our products and processes almost 30 years ago and has since played an integral role in the development of Global Sustainable Design and Process standards.
Last year, we launched our Legacy of Good plan, a strategic roadmap that we use as a guide in moving forward to creating a real impact on the world around us. Among those outlined is a commitment to reaching our sustainability goals by 2020, including making our entire product portfolio 80 per cent more energy efficient.
Dell in particular can make the largest impact by delivering solutions that make it easier for IT users globally to operate more sustainably. One way we’re doing this in the data centre is making our servers capable with Fresh Air cooling; instead of using expensive, carbon-intensive chillers, our equipment allows outside air to be pushed through with fans.
A good example of how we are using outside air can be seen in what we have done with eBay. They’re using one of our modular data centres, up on the roof, in their Phoenix facility. That data centre is not using chillers on a 115-degree day helping eBay to drive down their cost per transaction because of extremely efficient data centres and free cooling.
IT uses less than 2 percent of world’s energy, and growth in IT could mean significant reduction of energy use for other less efficient processes. IT-based solutions, including data centres, have optimized industries and processes that used to be resource intensive, like e-commerce, logistics, digital media, and electronic medical records. IT solutions can represent a “net positive” effect driving social, environmental and economic outcomes.