Huawei Storage: In a league of their own

DSA senior journalist Satoko Omata sat down with Huawei Principal Architech Hermeet Singh and Huawei CTO Shyam to talk about their development in storage technologies. 
Huawei started venturing out of Telco into IT in 2002 and built their own storage product from ground up. According to recent figures published on the SPC-1 results, Hermeet notes that Huawei is recorded to have achieved 3 million IOPS. He commented that their current biggest competitor is recorded with 2 million IOPS. Adding on to that, it’s shown that Huawei occupies the top spot for NFS storage ranking as well. 
With an impressive track record in several big names as business continuity manager, we tried looking to his experience to comment on this industry. “It’s all about the people. We continue to support business and data up to the point of recovery. A lot of people go through things like BIA (Business Impact Analysis), surveys or market research and they all realise that the most important thing is the alternate site server – network server storage.”

Recent IDC reports are showing a less than satisfactory result for many of the big vendors. Being a relatively new player in an industry with a bleak short term outlook, we were curious to why they continue to press on with expanding and marketing this segment of the company, especially with their telco wing still going strong. 

Hermeet was quick to dismiss any doubts of Huawei’s position in the industry. “I have worked with many other companies, some our competitors, and I know that they have been in a long time, and things don’t actually change as much – but we are a totally new player, and there needs to be new things coming into the market.”
According to Huawei’s CTO Shyam, Huawei storage is currently sitting on the no.1 spot in China and has been reigning the top spot for the last 10 quarters. Working with a lot of creators including bank and oil and gas industries, they’ve seen a 54% growth rate in Q4 2015. 

“We are new in the market and we are looking to work with a lot of private companies that are just realising that they need these services that we provide. Every new sale or acquisition would be a growth rate to us. Working with industries like oil and gas – more and more are realising the need for storing their data and that is important to our growth. We are tapping the markets that are just realising these potentials.”

Hermeet tells us that Huawei’s portfolio does not fit into any categories within the current market. “Our products are totally different from the current market offering – mainly because we built from ground up. We build upon the latest RAID 2.0, whereas others work on an earlier version of RAID. Our baseline is already better than the rest.”  (Note from editor - Huawei have developed RAID 2.0+ which builds on standard RAID 2 and reportedly can deliver 20x the speed of other more widely used RAID levels. This seems to be born out in the IOPS performance figures)

Noting the recent events, we are seeing more and more companies expanding by acquisition. Regardless of how Huawei maybe a giant in telco, they are still fresh faces in the storage industry, and fresh faces seems to be snatched up at a very quick rate lately. Shyam seems not overly concerned about that, but rather focussing on what sets them apart in the industry. 

“We’ve seen in recent years the many companies growing by acquiring other smaller companies and branding it in the same name, but in essence, they are all different products. Other companies – they all deal with different levels of storage separately, and each of them have different OS (operating systems) for different levels of storage. And there’s no data migration capabilities. Huawei storage has the same OS for all the storage levels and types, allowing for free flow of information. It also supports virtual management of 3rd party storage as well.”

While discussing, we wanted to know where they position themselves with respect to cloud service providers like AWS and Azure, and if they might be considering partnerships with them. In fact, Shyam explains there might be a misunderstanding. 

“We are 2 different markets actually, with cloud services.  We have a lot of private storage players, but in the public there are actually increasingly fewer. With services like AWS and Azure, you aren’t using their storage solutions, you are using their servers.”

Hermeet adds, further clarifying their offerings and highlighting their product line. “We are geared more towards private infrastructure. We are not in the business selling cloud; we are in the business of providing infrastructure. Our object based storage is massively scalable and that is important for a lot of the companies we work with – it needs to be able to grow with them.”

Giving a few recent examples, Hermeet and Shyam were both enthusiastic about showing the capabilities of Huawei storage. “Recently we’ve launched a partnership with a German telco service, where we provide the private infrastructure for them.”

Shyam cheerily added “For example, some of our clients in China includes international broadcast stations CCTV china and Phoenix TV. The streaming for both Beijing and London Olympics were done on Huawei. Even with the Minions movie - the backend is also Huawei.” 

Shyam has complete faith in Huawei storage’s performances and capabilities. “We have very good technology in Huawei and I believe it exceeds many big names in the market, but we haven’t been pushing as hard on the marketing side, which is why most people still do not know about our offerings in IT.”

Hermeet echoes Shyam and defended their achievements “We are obtaining good benchmark results but it’s not often reflected on the company within public perception, and that is where we want to improve on. We have the technology, now we just need to tell people. In fact, more and more of our telco customers are aware of our IT services. We hope to push further in this area.”
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