The opportunity around data is exploding, says NetApp’s Ravi Chhabria at TechSparks 2021

On Day 3 of TechSparks 2021, Ravi Chhabria, VP - Engineering and MD, NetApp India, explained how the company is taking its proven technologies in data management and storage and applying them in today's cloud-led world.
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The impact of cloud in terms of transforming businesses can no longer be overemphasised, said Ravi Chhabria, VP - Engineering and MD, NetApp India, as he set the context for his keynote address on ‘Maximising the value of data with cloud’.

Ravi said the cloud has impacted almost every industry and business and has opened opportunities to build new products and new businesses. “And, at the core, if you look at what is enabling this technology transformation, it is data,” he added. 

Decoding the acceleration in technology transformation and evolution

Ravi observed that technologies have evolved to the point where businesses can apply exceptionally powerful algorithms on massive cloud infrastructure at large troves of data and create something of exceptional value.

He said, “It's not that we are just uncovering insights, but discovering new insights. It's almost like there is a discovery going on in the world of data, much like the geographic discovery a few centuries ago. We are at a historical moment in the evolution of technology.” 

This had led NetApp — a cloud-led data management software company — to find itself at the crossroads of a massive opportunity.

“We stand in a position where we can use our expertise that allows our customers to be able to apply and adopt technology and be more data-driven without having to be experts in managing data themselves,” Ravi explained.

He shared the growth of the Indian startup ecosystem, with over 45,000 startups and more than 60 unicorns, is a journey paved on data.

“Therein is NetApp’s opportunity to enable our customers to be able to work with data. With 30-year deep competence and expertise in managing data in the most demanding environment for the most demanding applications, NetApp is taking its proven technologies and applying them in today's cloud-led world,” he emphasised. 

A decade ago, NetApp realised its enterprise applications, created in old-style data centres, had equal relevance to businesses who were deploying solutions in the cloud, across clouds.

“We started investing in this ubiquitous storage operating system layer that would provide businesses with same operational experience, value, data protection, security, and compliance expected regardless of the cloud the business was operating in,” he said.

When cloud and data become critical for businesses, compliance, along with performance, cost, security, and resilience, also become important.

“And, if you look at data in the context of a business in any industry, you will realise that compliance can be governed by a few dozen certifications and entities, which require businesses to protect, secure, and govern the data, creating incredible amounts of complexity. Here again, NetApp brings an advantage to its customers by simplifying this data management complexity,” Ravi added.

According to Ravi, a large part of the value of NetApp’s storage operating system came from its flagship technology ONTAP, which is at the core of the file system that provides unique value in large scale enterprise data centres. As the world evolved to the cloud, so did this software.

“It's now seen as a software that can be packaged, containerised, run in Kubernetes clusters, and run cloud-native. You can have that same ONTAP running in any one of the hyperscalers as cloud volumes ONTAP. So a customer used to running ONTAP in the data centre can now run that same ONTAP in any cloud environment,” he explained. 

One may not realise that they are interacting with NetApp, but at the core of it, they are consuming NetApp’s technology much as they would consume almost any service natively in large cloud platforms.

In his address, Ravi also drew attention to Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, which provides fully managed shared storage in the AWS Cloud, with the popular data access and management capabilities of ONTAP and Astra, storage provisioning, and data management for Kubernetes.

With Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, businesses have the same ubiquity of a managed storage offering — managed by Amazon, powered by NetApp, and built on ONTAP.

It provides businesses resiliency, availability, performance, low latency, and security, seamlessly integrated into almost every Amazon Web Service they might be using.

Explaining why this is significant, he said, “Because some of the biggest costs, even though we think of it as being infrastructure costs, are the cost of operating infrastructure. And what we've made sure is that it's the same infrastructure that runs across all environments.”

Talking about the relevance of Astra, Ravi said the applications are being written in Scratch and Kubernetes environments as cloud-native applications, with many of them having storage as an integral part of their infrastructure.

“Here, NetApp’s offerings like Astra, which is again on ONTAP, gives you the best of everything — enterprise resilience and cloud agility,” he added.

Today, with businesses operating across multiple data centres, they need to have visibility into where their data assets are, what's the value of that asset, and if it is being optimised and protected. 

Space to innovate and disrupt

Ravi highlighted how the acquisitions of CloudCheckr, Spot.io, and Data Mechanics by NetApp over the recent months has helped the company expand its offering to enable businesses to create more agile, secure, and full-featured data platforms.

Addressing startups and entrepreneurs, he said, “The opportunity around data is exploding. While large companies working in the domain for a long time have deep expertise, there is enough room for innovation - not just in the fringes but areas adjacent to it.”

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For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.

Edited by Suman Singh

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