Storage shake-up

Jeff Reed, vice president of Symantec’s FileStore business spoke to NME at IDC’s Dubai CIO Summit, about changing storage infrastructure and the cloud

Tags: Cloud computingSymantec CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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Storage shake-up
By  ITP.net Staff Writer Published  March 15, 2010 Network Middle East Logo

What was your presentation at the CIO Summit focused on?

It was about how cloud is making some major changes to IT infrastructures, and areas that CIOs can take advantage of. It was about three things: one was the ability to take advantage of software-as-a-service type platforms (SaaS), and the new computing models, and SaaS as a hybrid model.

The SaaS model has a few really nice things about it, but in the markets that we are playing in, messaging security, archive and backup-as-a-service, we are seeing some additional benefits above the typical cloud goodness. With messaging security, customers can reduce their network bandwidth, because we are taking out 90% of the messages, that are spam, before they hit their infrastructure.

The second area was the need to make sure that your vendors are readying their solutions for cloud. With this very high degree of virtualization, unfortunately today, security in the virtualized world is highly inefficient, so we are working closely with the leading hypervisor vendors, to develop new sets of capabilities and virtualized infrastructure that is far more efficient.

The third point I spoke about was to urge CIOs to look at the cloud service providers, and see if there are innovations that they can take advantage of in their own infrastructure. Symantec has learnt from being a massive online storage provider, and there are opportunities to rethink storage architecture, and deploy enterprise grade capabilities at a fraction of the cost.

Symantec has taken standard industry hardware, and by layering high value software IP on top of that, we can create almost a storage grid structure - our product, FileStore, is exactly that. We have built on our file system leadership, and taken that code and optimized it for customers to use it for their storage infrastructures. For unstructured data, it is going to be a far better solution, better capabilities at a fraction of the cost.

Do Middle East CIOs get your message of storage that is not big boxes?

I think so. We have seen a lot of interest, and it is the people that have the most acute problems, like capturing video for the media, or seismic data in the energy sector, those are the areas that are gravitating right away to what we are talking about. The unstructured data problem is not going away for these guys.

Are they receptive to the message though?

I found a little bit more push back on the cloud than I have on storage innovation. The cloud push back has been more based on the infrastructure readiness, particularly the network maturity, or the lack thereof, which has driven the skepticism from a lot of the customers. One of them said ‘I love the idea, the message is great, but we don't have the network to really make this fly'.

Is that something Symantec can address, or is it down to the network providers?

Partly we can, but partly we can't. For certain things, with messaging security for example, we can help by getting rid of messages in the cloud and freeing up network bandwidth. For other environments, it is really a requirement of the network providers to come up with a network infrastructure that can provide more bandwidth, reduce latency, performance.

It is not a localized problem, but what we have seen is it applications that are not latency-dependent that are moving there to start. The sort of things where we have seen the move, like archive, where it is not a big deal if it takes a while to retrieve data. I expect you will start seeing a similar move in this area as well.

Are you actively targeting FileStore to customers here?

We are just starting, I have spent time with the local sales team, taking some of the learnings from other regions in terms of what customers to target, which sectors are most likely to pop.

Which sectors have shown the most interest?

One is ISPs, telco/service provider space, that is one where we have seen a lot of pickup. Another is the entertainment, media and video space, and we are seeing a lot in the education and public sector as well, around universities overseas moving to digital campus, and in the government space it has been around high-growth file-based activities.

As Symantec, do you need to put data centres into the region to provide these services?

Definitely, we definitely are, and I think in the messaging security infrastructure space we are one of the few that has actually specific infrastructure for hosted services on a regional level. We have seen customers ask for that, and we think it makes a big difference from a performance perspective.

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