Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is in the business of delivering breakthrough technologies helping customers transform industries, markets and lives. Intelligent CIO talks to Marc Waters, Managing Director UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa, HPE, about the future of data management, operating at the Edge and the pace of technical innovation.
What are the expectations of data management in the next 12 months?
Data is vital for every single organisation, so companies are now looking at their data management platforms and strategies and considering how to move data. I think the expectations of data management are surrounding how you move data from the Edge to the cloud.
We see what we call data gravity which means that the size of the data centre is so huge that it becomes hard to move data. This is particularly when you start applying intelligence to video, for example. What you don’t want is for your data centre to get so huge that gravity holds data back from being moved to a different location to analyse it before moving it back.
Firstly, it becomes slower and then the cost of maths of doing it becomes prohibitive so we see the need to analyse data at the point of leave and at the point of action where there are large sets and then you manage and move back only the data that you need into your cloud-enabled environment, rather than moving everything back.
So, your data management platforms enabling that is really important. So, what we consider now is how intelligence has become embedded in the very fabric of a storage environment to enable smart data management.
We have a piece of software called HPE Infosight which looks at where data’s being pulled from, how it’s being used, what the best way of managing that data is in a much more automated fashion. My expectation is that intelligence will continue to transform data management from the Edge to the cloud.
How important is operating at the Edge?
I’d say it’s vital. I’d say it’s non-negotiable. Right now, a lot of the data sets we work with or that other companies work with are getting bigger, however, they are still nowhere near the size they’re going to be in even three years’ time.
At the moment, there’s a lot of fibre and a lot of connectivity so it quite often makes sense to move your data to your compute. As data sets get bigger, as data gravity takes hold, the cost maths equation completely changes and you start to move your compute to your data – that is operating at the Edge. And then we get to things like autonomous driving for example – if you’re in a car that’s being autonomously driven, where do you want the decisions to be made by that car and by that AI? You’d want it to be made right at the car’s location.
Do you think businesses are aware of the implications of using Smart Technologies?
I think people are maturing to it now. There was certainly a period where it was cool to say you were going ‘cloud-first’ and then you ask what they mean by that and what they’re solving from that, and people find it quite hard to answer.
I’ve seen two approaches, I’ve seen scenarios where companies will ask what a public cloud would offer them, what’s good about it and where the value lies. They ask what’s good about their environment, what workloads they can put there to extract value from their business.
We’ve got very peaky workloads where the demand is unsure, yet there is huge value to be derived from that. I think very down grid where you just need lots and lots of scale-up compute capacity – these workloads sit particularly nicely.
So, organisations that understand their environment mix and their applications and make smart choices are the ones that have been very successful at locking in the value. Some other organisations have said they’re going to move everything they do to the public cloud and they believe they could probably get by on the fact that they can shut their data centre.
I’ve seen a lot of organisations fail to do that because it’s quite complex and it doesn’t make sense for everything to go in one direction and then you don’t end up shutting your data centre. The way I think about it is by using the example of the screwdriver – just because somebody invented the screwdriver – an incredible tool – it doesn’t mean you no longer need a hammer.
You need to start thinking about the right mix of your environment to take full advantage of the technologies. An overwhelming point I would make is that the value is in the data. As you think about data management and about the cloud, public clouds can do some really fantastic compute processing on demand when you need it with some nice microservices – this is a really important part of your hybrid mix and everyone should have that within there.
My own personal recommendation to any CIO reading this would be to think very carefully about where you are putting your data and keep in control of it because once you pay to entrust your data into somebody else’s cloud where you’re renting space, you’re going to have to pay a significant uplift to take your data back. So I’d suggest understanding why you’re doing that, what the cost is of doing that and why it makes sense for your business.
What plans do you have in place moving forward and what trends do you expect to see evolving?
We have plans to continue to grow. In terms of our market plans, we could think about the domains of our business: redefining collected experiences at the Edge which involves security, connectivity and analytics; optimising our customers’ hybrid environment in terms of the balance of helping people understand how best to take advantage of public cloud technologies – one of the big trends there is the embedding of technology and embedding intelligence within technology.
Most of the demand that’s being driven around data centre capacity is, in my opinion, around AI and Big Data outcomes. The data sets are becoming so different and there’s an opportunity to look at how technology is architected, particularly when you want to move things in and out of the cloud and protect your data. I think containerisation is transformative – in a Big Data world, this is massively disruptive.
Do you think that the demand for technology innovation will ever slow in pace?
Humankind is incredible and what’s been achieved over many years on this planet with innovators and with passionate people driving transformation forward will never be diminished. Humans will always want to push the boundaries of research and innovation.
That will continue and so it should. Ultimately, the purpose of our company is to bring together really smart people with incredible technology to advance the way that we all live and work. I truly believe in that purpose.
The power of technology is huge in solving some of the greatest problems on the planet. Nothing will stop humankind continuing to move forward and in terms of whether robotics will replace workers and take jobs – I think this has been said many times before about many technologies and I think all of it is additive to humankind, rather than negative.
How do modern technology developments differ in the UAE compared to Saudi Arabia?
The technology is the same so it’s essentially all about the application of the technology and what people are looking to achieve. So, if you look at Saudi, there’s a lot of focus on how you can use data and high-performance compute from a security perspective which is a very important area within the economy.
If you look at Dubai or Abu Dhabi – they’reusing the same technology to deliver slightly different outcomes, in Abu Dhabi, we recently signed an MOU with Abu Dhabi Digital Authority to build a data federation platform for it which builds on an initial MOU we signed earlier in the year to look at using data to transform citizen experience.
This is a massive focus in Abu Dhabi. So, I think the underlying technologies are the same, it’s the application that’s most important to a particular economy, county, region, company, vertical sector – and this can vary.