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Data storage continues to grow, and our role is to help our customers manage it efficiently : Puneet Gupta, MD, NetApp

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In an exclusive interaction, Puneet Gupta, MD, NetApp, discusses the critical role of data in hybrid and multicloud environments, highlighting how NetApp assists organisations in managing their data on the cloud, and shared best practices for effective data management. Addressing sustainability, Gupta explains that instead of building and operating their own data centers, customers can leverage cloud infrastructure, which inherently offers sustainability benefits. Additionally, NetApp is committed to sustainability within its own campuses and manufacturing sites. Talking about cybersecurity, he emphasises the importance of regularly reviewing and monitoring infrastructure to ensure it remains secure, as well as sticking to the basics and continually evaluating the security posture.

How is NetApp helping organisations manage and optimise their data across hybrid and multicloud environment?

When there are multiple platforms, the issue is always about ease and making it simple. And when the cloud world first came in, the public cloud, there was a lot of conversation around migrating applications from the on-prem world to the cloud world. And that’s how the workloads were moving, and there were new workloads that were getting established. I think what NetApp did was partner with hyperscalers ahead of time and make sure that the NetApp technology, which is the operating system on tap, was embedded with the hyperscalers. And then they established what we call first-party products.


So, like with Microsoft, it was Azure NetApp files. With Amazon, it was FSx on tap. With Google, it was cloud volume services. So you build these first-party products. Now what that does for customers is that they don’t really feel the difference between the two. They don’t feel the difference between on-premises and cloud computing. The movement of data back and forth becomes much easier. You can keep your data on-premises, and you can have applications managed in the cloud, vice versa, or hybrid. I think NetApp really brought that innovation, which made life much easier for customers when they wanted to move to the cloud world.

What are the components of an effective data strategy in today’s digital landscape?

An effective data strategy in today’s digital landscape involves multiple components, varying based on the industry and customer requirements. Consider the banking sector as an example. When you access your online banking account, you can typically view your bank statement for a certain period, such as two, three, or four months, depending on the bank. This recent data uses high-performing storage because it’s needed in real time. However, there are times when you may need to access older data, such as a bank statement from two or three years ago. Storing such large volumes of data (spanning two, three, five, or even ten years) on the most expensive technology is not cost-effective. Therefore, the data is tiered. When you request an old statement, the online system might take a few minutes to retrieve it because it isn’t stored in the main production system but in lower-tier storage. This approach balances immediate response with cost efficiency, which is crucial as data size grows and costs can become enormous.

Organisations, whether banks or other entities, must serve their customers well while managing costs effectively. In highly competitive markets like India, striking this balance is vital. Furthermore, many regulated industries are required to store data for extended periods (seven or ten years) due to government regulations. Some customers prefer not to delete any data, anticipating future needs. As a result, data storage continues to grow, and our role is to help them manage it efficiently.

What emerging AI trends do you believe will have the most significant impact on the data storage and management industry?

I believe that once AI use cases are established in production environments, the amount of data generated will leapfrog. Managing this complexity will be interesting because it will require scale, performance, security, and simplification. The world will be very different from today’s, where data generation is already high. Imagine what it will be like in this new environment. That’s our job—to keep bringing technology that will help manage that complexity, and we are looking forward to working on that.

How is NetApp addressing sustainability, and what are some of the goals for reducing environmental impact through your operations and products?

NetApp is addressing sustainability through several key initiatives aimed at reducing the environmental impact of its operations and products.

First, the company has made significant technological advancements that allow for more power to be packed into the same hardware. This means that for the same performance, less rack space is required, leading to reduced power consumption and cooling needs, and a smaller data center footprint. By reducing rack space by 20-30%, depending on the workload or use case, NetApp is driving technology innovation that supports a more sustainable environment.

Second, by promoting the use of cloud services, NetApp helps customers take advantage of consolidated data centers. Instead of building and operating their own data centers, customers can leverage cloud infrastructure, which inherently offers sustainability benefits. This cloud model, supported by partnerships with hyperscalers, helps enhance the sustainability story by reducing the need for individual data centers.

NetApp is committed to sustainability on its own campuses and manufacturing sites. Initiatives include significant reductions in water consumption at manufacturing facilities, which are part of a broader effort to create a greener and more environmentally friendly operation.

In terms of cybersecurity and resilience, NetApp focuses on managing and protecting data. The company’s technology ensures the recovery of data in the event of a ransomware attack, guaranteeing data restoration within hours rather than days. This minimises service denial and ensures businesses can quickly resume operations. Our commitment to managing data securely and effectively reinforces its role in protecting against cyber threats while supporting sustainable practices.


What are the best practices you recommend for businesses and enterprises to secure their data against cyber threats?

Implementing the right technology effectively is crucial. While technology is widely available, the extent to which businesses choose to use it to secure themselves varies. There are two key areas to focus on: preventive measures and ransomware preparedness.

Preventive measures: Implement firewalls, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and other security solutions. These measures, provided by security companies worldwide, have mitigated many threats. However, incidents still occur despite these precautions.

Ransomware preparedness: Utilise programs like the ransomware guarantee program, which ensures that even if an attack occurs, the enterprise can still secure its data. Proper implementation of such programs can provide reasonable assurance of data security post-attack.

Best practices include maintaining discipline, rigor, and consistency. Regularly review and monitor your infrastructure to ensure it remains secure. It’s essential to stick to the basics and continually evaluate your security posture.

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