Our take on the Disruptive Data Vendors event

Earlier this week DSA held the disruptive data vendors event at Sime Darby Convention Centre featuring speakers from SilverPeak, Nutanix and Zerto. 
DSA thought carefully about the vendors we assembled, making sure the speaker from each company had a unique focus industry – SilverPeak on SD WAN, Nutanix on hyperconverged and Zerto on DR and for virtual and cloud workloads. That said they all speak with a common theme in mind: increasing productivity, improving agility and optimising work and all of them have brought disruptive technologies to market. 
Moderated by Stephen Francis from Arcis Communications, the sessions kicked off with Desmond Ong, country manager for Malaysia and Brunei of Nutanix on hyperconverged technology. He notes that in the markets, there is an increasing demand for less space but more storage. He believes the design of legacy storage systems can no longer support the load of data generated in the modern society. He believes that we should fully utilise the potential of cloud services and think about storage differently from the old 3 tier architecture. He also explained that business now demands IT to scale at speed, Nutanix offers IT managers to scale their own IT in the same flexible way that public cloud providers are able to do. 
Doug Farndale, VP of Sales for Asia Pacific of SilverPeak focused his presentation on SD WAN. Even though he comes from a pure networking background, he explained with SD WAN it is important to take an application centric view of the network. He also focused on how SD WAN delivers true business grade internet, enabling fast, reliable and secure movement of data over public internet connections. He explained how he believes hybrid system of reduced bandwidth fixed line combined with SD WAN over an internet connection delivers speed, security, resilience and cost savings that must be beneficial to any connected business. 

Andrew Martin, Managing Director in APJ for Zerto talked about the companies “cloud continuity platform”. He explained how traditional technologies for DR were built around protecting largely physical environments. This places severe constraints on how they perform in a software defined world. As an example he explained how Zerto was designed to “sit” in the hypervisor, as a result this means it can handle things like one application being spread over multiple VMs. He also gave a snapshot of the future showing how Zerto aims to fulfil the long term promise of the cloud era, allowing people to move enterprise workloads between on premise IT, any hypervisor and cloud at will. 
During Q&A sessions, all speakers agreed on the common theme of embracing new technology but also combining it with the best of old systems. In a market such as Malaysia, they believe a lot of education needs to be involved to help keep IT managers up to speed in order to fully capitalise on new technologies. Doug from Silver Peak explains his philosophy – “Keep it simple, stupid.” He told the audience “Often times, engineers focus too much on the engineering purity, that they forget that in the digital ages, speed is everything. I live by an 80/20 rule – if it’s 80% ok, it’s good enough for the market. If we keep aiming for that 99.9% perfection, some other players in the market will take over and you won’t have the chance to achieve that perfection.”
Doug also emphasises that youth and the more experienced generation can learn a lot from each other. “You can learn everything about the technology, but you cannot learn about things that happened on the job through a formal education. Just as the experienced IT managers need to learn new tech, they can really harness new talents by applying their knowledge, as well as sharing their experience.”

Richard Jones from Software Connectors Asia was also present to join the Q&A panel. Richard told the audience that it’s not enough to just think about the technology when it comes to virtualisation and digital transformation. The most important thing to think about is focus on what added value they can bring to the organisation. “Sometimes people might not know what they need, so it’s up to the industries to initiate the change. The first step is always to start small, get comfortable, and then scale as needed.”
Desmond from Nutanix told us in a post event interview “Virtualisation is already the way to go, but often times existing system have not built to have capabilities to deal with the speed and load of the current data, in that event technology like hyperconverged is the answer. However, we need to educate the population about these kind of new technologies and solutions.”
Andrew from Zerto challenges the position of existing traditional vendors, pointing out that it is difficult for them to endorse the technologies that this new wave of vendors is bringing to market without threatening their own very large revenue streams from more established technologies that they sell. He also echoed both of the other speakers “Most interesting was the feedback from those who attended. People loved the format and having the chance to hear are real views rather than just see marketing driven presentation. My key takeaway is that IT professionals genuinely want to understand how to transform their IT. Companies like Zerto are helping them every day.”
Don’t let us sway our opinions just because the event was organised by DSA; the final word should go to the people that attended. IT professionals from major banks, legal firms and even oil and gas companies. They enjoyed the format of the event and the ability to question senior people from vendors so openly. One attendee who asked to be kept anonymous told us “We have some real challenges ahead, first we need to understand how technology is evolving, next we have to explain and justify to the business why we are looking to move away from investments we have made in IT spend in recent years. Events like this help us to navigate this line”
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