Data strategies will drive enhanced datasets for enterprise: Paul Bruton, Hitachi Vantara 

Paul Bruton, Business Director - Data Intelligence, Asia Pacific, Hitachi Vantara, talks about data protection, security, privacy and new- age data strategies for customers.

A lot has been happening at Hitachi Vantara over the last year or so. What are the key trends in data protection that you have noted?

Yes, it is an interesting time for Hitachi Vantara. The real focus for us, as a complete data-centric organization, is to work with many companies around data and to help them differentiate their business models in the marketplace. As organizations move into new cloud generation storage technologies like object storage, it is all about data, data management, data governance, data portability and mobility.  We help organizations increase the IQ of their data to make it smart and intelligent, thus providing meaningful business outcomes. 

There is an interesting saying in the industry and I quote, ‘Data needs to save you money or it needs to make you money’.  It is that simple. If it’s not making money or if it’s not saving money, it starts to become a potential liability for the business. Today, many companies want to understand how they can start to analyze their data and to do that they must begin by enriching it with metadata.  Metadata is going to be more valuable than data and it will be a key approach this year for organizations that want to move forward. I’d say, nine out of ten organizations that I speak to, say that they are not allowed to delete data.  So, what we’re starting to see is that companies are saving everything, and with this, there is a rise in what we call as toxic data, which from a regulatory perspective could come back and hurt the organization.

3 things customers should be looking for their data strategies

  • Data Management.
  • Data Governance.
  • Data Portability/Mobility.

Adding to this, GDPR coming into action in EU seems to be an interesting initiative globally. 

Do you really see these trends translating with as much acceleration and with as much intensity in India?  

Object storage is a hot topic of conversation now and, just from the use cases and solutions, you can start to leverage this technology. There are four key solution areas that our customers within APAC, and Indian customers are looking at: how to modernize data protection, how to modernize data services, how to modernize data governance, and how to activate data intelligence.  

While looking at modernizing data protection, it is important for organizations to adopt these new technologies like object storage which has inherent protection capabilities built into them.  Typically, in the APAC region, the cost of traditional data protection that comes from backup software is approximately in the magnitude of 4,000-8,000 dollars per terabyte. If companies can start to pool 4,000-8,000 dollars per terabyte out of their cost of having to govern that data set, that is an enormous cost-saving to businesses. 

We are seeing the backup vendors adopting cloud-based protocols like S3 which has become the de facto interface now. Taking Commvault and Veritas as an example, both the companies can employ Active Data Management to a cloud target via S3. 

We, at Hitachi Vantara, have done a lot of work with Commvault and Veritas to optimize the way they copy data through these cloud-based repositories. Object storage is also fitting into backup architectures, and the most prevalent architecture is the disc-to-disc-to-object store, where organizations are moving their data to a flash or a dedicated backup appliance to house the first 30-days’ worth of backup recovery. 

In modernization of data services, the play is the digital workplace, and what is driving it is a cloud-based home drive technology. The idea is to give employees the ability to leverage a cloud drive, while being able to access the dataset from anywhere. We see that corporate IT does not have this kind of data backup anymore. We are talking about probably 50-70 terabytes worth of home drive data which is now on object storage technology. We get 50% optimization for storage efficiencies around deduplication and compression.  

The impact into applications like email has significantly shrunk with attachments, and now there are links within the email which again helps in protecting it by backing up fewer data tied to an email environment. It is those commercial savings that are driving the adoption of the digital workplace. We have customers who leverage that technology as a protocol translator.  

“At Hitachi Vantara, we look at simplifying the messaging by focusing on modernization of data protection, data services, data governance and activating the data intelligence with our solutions.”

At Hitachi Vantara, we differentiate ourselves with our metadata management framework.  This is based on determining how one can make that data in the object store intelligent, and the answer is through metadata.  The ability to append the custom metadata to those objects gives us the ability to identify data within the object store. You can look for words like confidential, data purse, or even credit card numbers, and we can further enrich those objects with the data we find inside them.  

This comes through content intelligence, the fourth piece of our content and data intelligence portfolio and it is the product that I’m probably most excited about.  We’ve had it in the marketplace for probably about 12 to 18 months now.  It’s getting incredible feedback from our customers and it is going to become the workflow engine to enrich and make data intelligent. So that is exciting, and it is probably a key part of the solutions moving forward that also starts to create the bridge into the greater data intelligence world, which we can now start to deliver for Pentaho. 

To leverage this rich business model and the set of capabilities that Pentaho has created for say, close to the last ten years, we start to take what we are doing with Pentaho and then apply the same to object storage solutions. We should determine how we can start to create indexes and enrich metadata, to marry the two technologies together and result in a formidable data around an analytics framework that can help our customers to meet their business needs. That’s an exciting direction that we are moving towards as well.

The largest challenge that customers talk about is when it comes to seeking actionable insights out of the data and making sense out of it, they hit a roadblock. Your thoughts?

At Hitachi Vantara, we look at simplifying the messaging by focusing on modernization of data protection, data services, data governance and activating the data intelligence with our solutions.  It could be as simple as identifying documents within the organization that have sensitive data and create a report which consolidates the information.  In the past, it used to be more focused around how much of data has been accessed in 6-12 months. But that has now evolved to wanting those statistics, in addition to sharing information on what is inside those documents to help organizations make some informed decisions that can benefit their business and customers.

How has GDPR changed enterprise view on data protection globally?

Although it is too early to determine the impact of GDPR, what we are starting to see is many countries within the Asia-Pacific region are taking note of what the European Union is doing in terms of the regulations, policies, data breach acts, and are adopting it into the privacy acts within each country.  India is one of the fast-emerging nations wanting to play in the global economy.  When you start to move into the global economy, you’re going to be impacted by some of these rules and regulations.  Any Indian business that wants to do business with the European Union or the citizens within the European Union by de-facto will be impacted by GDPR. 

In APAC, cost of traditional data protection from backup software is 4,000-8,000 USD per terabyte.                                                   Source: Hitachi Vantara

The Australian government is making some changes to its privacy act and specifically around data breach, which is set to take effect this month. The European Union is looking at implementing GDPR by the month of May. Along these lines, India is making some changes as well. I believe China is looking at making changes to their privacy act and these are the flow-ins from GDPR that I’m starting to see.  

Everybody is taking it seriously, and interestingly if an organization doesn’t comply to  GDPR guidelines, they must pay 4% of their turnover as the penalty, which is currently applicable. It could move into trillions of dollars and they have the power to stop organizations from trading within the European Union which could be catastrophic.  It is good to see the government taking data privacy as a serious issue given the prominent data breaches that have occurred globally in the recent past.

With GDPR, data must be preserved, secured, encrypted, and cannot be accessed without the user’s permission. Hitachi Vantara, as a company, is in line with GDPR’s important guideline – the right to be forgotten. Our Hitachi Content Intelligence is equipped to search for all sources of data available, whether it be by username, pictures, signatures, or every single digital asset that attributes a search. As data comes in, we generate valuable metadata and then add additional custom metadata. Because of that, one can search and prove that all the data has been completely erased and forgotten from the network.

What is a concrete action plan that Hitachi Vantara has for 2018?

The differentiation is the holistic portfolio and the components that we’ve created, which has also abridged into the IoT space. We are not talking about traditional file storage anymore. We are moving into that cloud generation technology which is starting to capture the new datasets and starting to bring the intelligence to move forward on that journey.  We are seeing companies becoming a lot smarter in understanding what they are generating and how long they should govern it for. Some of them may be quicker than others; but it’s helping get that data strategy in place for organizations to make that journey, and move forward by setting the right foundation for what is coming in the IoT space.