When it comes to flash, India has come of age: Vivek Tyagi, SanDisk

Indian firms are betting on a combination of drive storage and flash, says Vivek Tyagi, Director-Business Development and Sales, SanDisk India. 

SanDisk Oct 16th 2017

As enterprises prepare for a digital revolution sparked by newer technologies like BYOD, mobility, internet of things and artificial intelligence, the need to access and secure volumes of mission-critical data becomes even more important than ever. Therefore, enterprises are looking beyond traditional storage. Flash is the answer and enterprises are relying on it to fulfill their storage requirements. 

Vivek Tyagi, Director - Business Development and Sales at SanDisk India, shares insights into the top storage trends, the roadmap for India market, and how SanDisk has evolved as a result of mergers and acquisitions.

Could you elaborate on the latest trends in the storage industry across organizations in India?

Currently, there are two types of products trending in the market. First, the embedded flash storage that goes into mobile phones, set-top boxes, drones, automotive, and industrial applications. We are seeing an increase in the capacity points of flash in that area. The embedded market is using flash for storage and the capacity has almost doubled in an 18-month period.

Second, we are also observing an increased adoption of flash storage when it comes to datacenters. Wherever hard drive type storage is being used in the datacenter space there is a demand for larger capacity storage. To meet that demand, Western Digital recently announced a 14 TB datacenter hard drive.  

What are the major growth drivers of this market?

India is on a digital course where massive volumes of data will be generated in the next couple of years. Storage demand is rapidly increasing, whether it’s a consumer storing more pictures or the Indian government planning for Digital India.   

“The merger with Western Digital has given us access to its set of distributors, which will improve our market reach. As we merge the sales sides by the end of this year, we expect to have a much larger distribution setup.”

Vivek Tyagi

Director-Business Development and Sales, SanDisk India

This digital revolution is the fundamental reason driving the storage market. The more data you generate – the more it can be utilized for analytics or other technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to get meaningful results. 

How is flash memory adoption faring among Indian enterprises compared to global?

Two or three years ago, we had to create flash awareness by talking to customers. There was a bit of apprehension about quality and reliability of flash and there was a big concern about cost too. But today, everybody is aware of flash and its benefits. So that’s a big change since the last two years. Customers now understand that they need flash and also need hard drive based storage.

A type of data known as hot data needs to be accessed immediately, so companies are adopting flash for this tier of data. Then there is data that needs to be kept for mandatory statutory requirements but need not be accessed all the time. Organizations are keeping this data tier on hard disk drives. There is more clarity now among enterprises when it comes to storage infrastructure. Flash adoption is definitely higher and catching up speed compared to global requirements.  

Could you shed light on your channel engagement in India and what is your strategy in terms of developing the distributor network?

The merger with Western Digital has given us access to its set of distributors, which will improve our market reach. As we merge the sales sides by the end of this year, we expect to have a much larger distribution setup. On the enterprise side, we are openly engaging more partners. SanDisk is well positioned when it comes to distributors and is open to engaging more partners. Earlier, we were limited to tier 1 and tier 2 cities but we are now looking to penetrate deeper into the Indian market with the help of channel partners.

At the moment, we have a program to engage, qualify, and certify partners. There are certain global programs for channels, which we will roll out now and if the need arises we will look into designing specific programs for India.

What unique value proposition do you offer to partners? What is your investment strategy for India for the next couple of years?

The message to channel partners is that with the combination of Western Digital, SanDisk and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST), we are now the single largest storage supplier in the world. The combined entity has a large product portfolio that can cater to the needs of partners’ customers. The channel partners will find several opportunities in our product range to fulfill their customers’ requirements.

As far as sales and marketing are concerned, we will continue to expand in regions beyond Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. We are also participating in several enterprise storage-related events. The company is making huge investments in R&D as well. Conventionally, SanDisk had around 1000 engineers for R&D in Bangalore who were completely focused on flash. After the acquisition, the company has decided to expand that R&D capability by adding a couple of hundred engineers in the next few years. This will also include R&D capability in the HDD segment.

Are there key target verticals for Western Digital in the country?

Different products are targeted at different segments. We have a large archival storage product called Active Scale. It is targeted at industries that have terabyte to petabyte-scale data that needs to be kept safe and secure for long periods of time, either due to the nature of their business or due to government regulation.

This archival storage product is targeted at a couple of segments, media and entertainment being the most important. Media and entertainment companies have terabyte to petabyte-scale data (video files), which needs to be preserved for a long time. The second segment is genomics or genetics companies, termed globally as life sciences, that also generates tons of data. The third segment is the BFSI sector that has large volumes of data, which needs to be kept for a long period of time due to regulatory requirements.

Western Digital’s recent acquisition of Tegile, a hybrid and all-flash array storage company will enable the combined entity to target SMBs and large enterprises across all segments. And the company also has products targeted at cloud service providers.

What are the challenges Indian CIOs are facing when it comes to storage infrastructure?

IT budgets are being cut, but the enterprise storage needs are growing. As a combined entity, we try to study the storage data needs of organizations and try to classify the data into archival, cold or hot storage tiers. Our goal is to provide CIOs the right economics and the right storage solution at optimal cost with zero compromise in performance. So far, we have received a positive response from the CIOs in our targeted segments.

SanDisk, a Western Digital brand, has evolved as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Now with Tegile’s acquisition, we have a complete storage portfolio