''Best solutions and best products don't necessarily come from large vendors''

DQC News Bureau
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As pioneers of storage area networks (SAN) and founders of some leading names

in storage space, both Kumar Malavalli and Brenda Chreistensen work to create a

highly integrated eco-system of storage companies. In an exclusive interview

with DQ Channels India, they spoke about the need for cost-effective storage

solutions for SMBs.


What are some of the key challenges that SMBs today face when it comes to

managing their rapidly growing data?

SMBs don't have fat cheque-books to manage their data, even though

their business needs are pretty much the same. The key challenges that SMBs face

is how to do the right vendor selection, how to deal with support, budgeting and

staffing-related issues. Most SMBs don't have hundreds of terabyte of data,

which will attract the attention of vendors even though the data remains as

critical to their business as to any other large enterprise. So for them, the

real challenge is to cost-effectively manage this data.

Though there are large numbers of players in the storage space, do you

really think they are in a position to offer truly affordable solutions for SMEs?

Kumar Malavalli and Brenda

Chreistensen, Directors, Storage Networking Summit and Technology Evangelists


Kumar: I would say a trend for affordable solutions is slowly

evolving. The storage industry is just about 10 years old. When SANs were

introduced, it was only within the reach of Fortune 100 companies. But over the

last one year, such solutions have started trickling to SMEs as well. But

vendors still need to work a lot on making these solutions cost-effective. This

includes not just making the product cheaper, but also bringing down the

management costs. Since SMEs don't have large IT departments or manpower to

manage their IT infrastructure, vendors also need to work on providing solutions

that are automated. So yes, the cost is coming down, but it could be brought

down even more while maintaining or even improving performance levels.

Amidst all this excitement that is being created around storage, where do

you think security fits in?

Security is another issue that enterprises need to look as closely

as their storage needs. All this while security was not spoken in the same

breath as storage and they were looked as two different requirements. With a

huge amount of outsourcing happening to India, it is only logical for companies

to consider security a critical component of their storage infrastructure. And

by security I don't mean that the data has to be locked up and kept away

somewhere. The real challenge is to retrieve and use the data after some period

of time or whenever required and even destroy it safely after crossing the time

of its usability.

Both of you have been promoting host of start-ups and companies that are

not much heard of. Given the fact that already some very big players are active

in the storage business, where does it leave a room for these small outfits?

Best solutions and best products don't necessarily come from large

companies. And this phenomenon is more pronounced in the storage business where

the requirements are almost growing exponentially. There are lots of holes in

the solutions provided by many big guys. And to fill in those holes, you need

very innovative and out-of-the-box thinking. And that comes from these younger

start-ups. And to give them an equal opportunity to present themselves to the

market, we offer them very good branding at our annual Storage Networking Summit

(SNS) in India. This way, not only do they get to know the requirements of the

Indian customers and hence design the solutions specifically for this market,

but also the end-users get to know that these companies exist.


How well do you think these start-ups can tap the business opportunity?

One of the huge opportunities that these small-sized vendors are

rightly positioned to tap is the SMB segment. Most large companies have very

different kind of sales channel and sales strategy. Some big brands are used to

having huge margins in their business and they carry with them an army of sales

people. Even if they try, they really cannot provide highly cost-effective

solutions as their focus is largely enterprise-based. And this is where these

small start-ups come into picture. Their overheads are low, they can innovate

much more and faster and offer solutions at cost to SMBs which are not


What is the next significant trend you believe will emerge in the business

of storage?

One of the most visible trend will be the emergence of service

providers who can offer services like disaster recovery, back-up services and

managed security. For SMEs, service providers will be the most-sought after

community to offer them all the above mentioned services.