The Time of Hybrid Cloud Solutions is Coming
The data center market is developing rapidly and it is increasingly about hybrid cloud solutions, Kirk Skaugen, Executive Vice President Lenovo, President Data Center Group, confirmed for ICTbusiness.info, adding that there is an increase in productivity and system efficiency.
The great challenges of the pandemic, but also the economic crisis and earthquakes in Croatia, today show more than ever that it is crucial for companies to have strong disaster recovery measures in place to ensure that key data and applications remain available at all times, Skaugen points out.
The data center market is developing very fast. In which direction is the market moving, given the growing use of the cloud, especially during this crisis?
You’re right, it is indeed moving fast. What we see with our Enterprise and SMB customers is the acceleration in adoption of hybrid cloud. This is driven by the increase in demand for employees working remotely and the shift to connecting with customers online. We saw this even before the pandemic hit but is clearly even more prevalent now. Customers need the benefits of an on-premise solution, providing security, privacy, custom applications, and performance, but also want the benefits of a public cloud solution, such as self-service, on-demand functionality, connecting seamlessly to SaaS apps.
Data-center technology goes in several directions - small data centers, medium-sized, classic and hybrid. In your opinion, which technology will prevail?
So clearly hybrid cloud, as I say, but ultimately any technology that helps to improve performance per dollar, helps productivity, lowers the total cost of ownership, and enables innovation and creativity, will be the technologies that IT managers seek out. For instance, we see a major trend in advanced data analytics which is helping leaders make better business decisions based on real-time insights and predictions whilst also automating mundane human tasks; and we also see a major trend in edge computing which is enabling high performance data processing closer to cities, transport, factories, warehouses, retail stores, and without the risk of latency or security issues.
The arrival of 5G networks will move data centers nearer to the end user. What are the issues you foresee initially, and how will they be overcome?
5G offers great potential to consumers and businesses alike. The benefits include greater bandwidth capacity, faster transmission, and lower latency which tomorrow’s new and innovative mobile applications and IoT devices require. There may however be issues both with connectivity and the sheer volume of data produced. For instance, 5G frequency waves are only able to travel a short distance and can struggle with solid walls. This can be boosted by adding small cells within a property to augment larger territory cell towers, but this in turns requires agreements between property owners and the service providers. Then there is the issue of the amount of data that will be generated, with some predicting it to grow 5 times the current level to 164 exabytes per month. Edge computing will play a huge role in overcoming some of these issues, as will a secure, flexible, and agile storage solution.
The crisis has shown that we want to be able to work from home. How should we organize the whole ecosystem - data centers, SaaS or other similar cloud-based solutions and client / server infrastructure?
The need for home working has clearly increased since the onset of the pandemic. IT departments need to enable simple, frictionless, remote working environments for their employees. They need to provide an architecture and a data fabric that allows their employees seamless and reliable connectivity, such as single sign-on passwords for multiple services, and APIs for data sharing between on-premise applications and public cloud services. The need for home working can also be overcome with a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). HCI virtualises all the elements of conventional hardware-defined systems, including virtualised computing, software-defined storage, and virtualised networking, thus reducing the resource burden of managing IT. Moreover, HCI brings increased reliability too, giving enterprises the possibility to have an agile infrastructure that can respond faster, something that became quickly evident during the initial phase of the pandemic. However, all this needs to be underpinned by great leadership, making decisions about the right technology at the right time, that enables flexibility and productivity, but that most of all is based on the needs of the employees.
The pandemic and the earthquakes in Croatia show the importance of disaster recovery solutions in technology. What can be done to enable faster data recovery and data center stability?
I was sorry to hear about the earthquakes in Croatia. It has been a very uncertain time for many of us around the world, and I would imagine this has been particularly true for your country. But the pandemic, the earthquakes, and everyday risks like ransomware or malware attacks, all show more than ever before that it is essential for businesses to have strong disaster recovery measures in place, ensuring critical data and applications remain continuous and available. With a well-defined data management strategy, companies can leverage rich data management features like snapshots and copies to protect data sets. They can deploy multi-site disaster recovery with high availability to protect their data and ensure application up time continuity. A flash array system with integrated hybrid cloud, is another solution to consider, which extends data management to the cloud, avoiding the cost or complexity of a 2nd site. We work with a range of partners, such as Veeam and Commvault, to offer solutions like these to customers of all sizes and they have never been more affordable or easier to maintain than they are right now.
What are the key focus technologies for Lenovo DCG and where do you see your business in 3 to 5 years?
From the device to the data center, Lenovo is a truly global organization delivering what we call ‘Smarter Technology for All’. Our specific focus in Lenovo Data Center Group (DCG) is Smarter Infrastructure for the ‘Data-Centered’. With our key focus areas of Edge and Cloud computing, HPC & AI, and ‘As-A-Service’, we deliver Smarter Technology for All by collaborating closely with these ‘Data-Centered’ customers to design and support open-choice and secure solutions that meet their unique business needs. In the future, we will continue to drive our transition into a service and solutions-led organization. We will achieve this by continuing to focus on our ‘3S’ strategy, which is Smart IoT, Smart Infrastructure and Smart Verticals & Services. We recently announced the transformation of our business- with the formation of the new Solutions and Services Group (SSG) and the new name for DCG as Infrastructure Solutions Group- to align to this goal and to our 3 S’ strategy.
How much impact will data and solutions based on AI, deep learning, and machine learning have in data centers?
Today many of us are using AI probably without even noticing it- in the cloud, with voice recognition, via online translation tools and via image-search. We go shopping in an unmanned store because there is computer vision technology built into its IT system. We talk to our phone because there is natural language processing built into it. Our phones increasingly have a smart camera and smart lock too. And in commercial and industrial settings, more and more devices and sensors are connected for real time communication and insights. AI is helping power solutions we couldn’t dream of in the past, from smart retail stores to improving healthcare diagnosis of diseases and more. We see it playing a major role in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and cities. For AI to be most effective it needs a massive amount of data, and this in turn needs huge compute power and storage capabilities, either at the edge, in the core or in the cloud. So yes, AI and many other trends in technology, continue to have an impact on the importance of the data center in the future.