Q&A: Big Data has to be fast

Big data is irrelevant unless results come fast, says Patrick Lo, Regional Marketing Senior Manager for the CE & Datacenter Division, WD Asia Pacific. He also elaborates on storage trends in the region.

Big data is the latest buzz word in the tech community. Has it affected your business in any way so far?

Big data and storage solutions are inextricably linked. Today, the sheer volume of data deluge led Gartner's Managing VP, Daryl Plummer, to note that the velocity of data today is greater than the sum of our ability to analyse that data and make decisions from it.

It's no longer enough for data to be big, but it also has to be fast. In today's competitive business landscape, businesses need to gain insights faster than their competitors in order to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. Essentially, big data is irrelevant unless results come fast.

One of the main causes of this slowdown can be traced to storage. Disk storage, a long-time stalwart of IT, is no longer capable to the analysis challenge of big data. At Western Digital, we understand the needs of our customer and the industry at large and are constantly innovating to ensure our products meet the needs of our customers. For example, WD recently announced the world's thinnest 1 TB 2.5-inch WD Blue hard drive and 5mm 2.5-inch WD Black solid state hybrid drives (SSHD). In the enterprise space, we are offering the elemental building blocks for every data centre with our WD Xe for high-density performance storage for demanding applications; WD Re for high-availability deployments; and WD Se for scale-out architectures.

What are the main storage trends in the Asia Pacific region? How have they changed or evolved over the years?

Amongst the various storage trends in the APAC region, I believe the Solid State Drives (SSDs) and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) discussion is one of the major talking points. SSDs have emerged and gained significant momentum over the past five years.

My perspective on this discussion is that both technologies are not competitors but are synergistic. They each have its own pros and cons and will continue to complement each other to enable new devices and applications in both the consumer and enterprise space. In one of our latest studies, it suggests that 75 percent of data in 2020 will still be stored in hard disk drives, further reinforcing the position that these two technologies will create new opportunities over the next decade.

How are these changes going to affect the storage business?

With today's unprecedented data growth and the ever changing business landscape, the implied storage challenge/opportunity is to render massive amounts of data in a manner that complies with the user experience requirements.

One of the key focus areas for us is to understand the industry and our customers to constantly innovate. Today, every technology from big data, cloud computing, to smartphones all require some form of storage and our focus since the inception of WD is to provide a range of technologies to ensure our customers have the most suitable options to help them achieve their business objectives.

What is WD doing to take advantage of the emerging storage trends?

We are constantly in touch with our customers and understand their needs, as well as the industry trends. One of the most common feedback we've heard time and time again from our customers is the challenge of rendering massive amounts of data in a manner that complies with the user experience requirements. As a result, we've ensured that we have the necessary storage building blocks for every cloud data centre from small office NAS solutions to large enterprise data centres. For example, our WD Se drive is optimised to meet the needs of SMB to high-end NAS systems; WD Re for durable capacity storage for high-availability deployments; and WD Xe for high-density performance storage for demanding applications.

Give us a glimpse of your business in Asia?

Asia continues to contribute to more than half of WD's revenue, and another area of growth for the company is the steep rise in HDD demand for video surveillance spurred by the need for greater safety in some Asian countries, hence for more data being used.

How do you see your growth in the region?

In FQ3'13 financial report, Western Digital total revenue was US$3.8 billion, with APAC having 51 percent share. While I may not be in a position to discuss growth in this region, we are constantly in touch with our customers and understand their business needs and trends in the region. With the introduction of new technologies and the constantly shifting landscape, we are excited by the possibilities and opportunities in the region.


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