Cloud Computing will Solve Chargeback Conundrum

by Tabrez Khan    Jul 22, 2009

Ramachandran Narayanaswamy, head of Storage Industry Group, Mindtree Ltd, spoke to Tabrez Khan on how cloud computing and virtualization are helping address the storage and infrastructure related challenges enterprises face today.

What are the storage-related challenges in the Indian enterprise context?
India mirrors the world in the IT storage aspect, so the challenges and trends are the same as they exist globally. Some Indian companies are going global so they need to comply with global regulations or regulations of that country with regard to storage. Overall, on a worldwide basis, in the year 2009 alone there will be information created which will be more than what has been created in the last 5000 years. So 3 Hexa Bytes of data will be generated and stored. Information is growing exponentially and the biggest challenge is that close to 75% of such information or data is unstructured. So managing this kind of data on a daily basis is a huge challenge.

Despite all this don t you think at a single company level, storage is underutilized?
Yes, storage is underutilized and servers are even more underutilized.

Do you think technologies such as cloud computing could help resolve these issues?
One of the trends we foresee is the adoption of the cloud model. CIOs will start to do defragmentation and backup by moving it to the cloud. There will indeed be concerns each user or department will raise on security, availability etc. But these concerns will eventually be addressed. The biggest challenge I see in the near future is what we call the Chargeback Conundrum . Each department within an organization has a budget to buy storage and it would not allot its unutilized storage to another department because it would amount to cross subsidizing the other department. So charge back models will come into play. As adoption of cloud computing grows this issue will be resolved as storage will be offered on an on-demand and pay per use basis.

What are some of the key emerging storage technologies in your view?
Data deduplication is a very powerful approach to reducing storage; it has multiple impact in the form of both cost and energy saving. I think the recent intense competition we have seen between storage companies fighting to acquire a particular company is because of the latter s prowess in data deduplication. Obviously it is an indication of how important a technology data deduplication is emerging to be. The other trends that will drive storage technology adoption to my mind will be the concern for energy and green storage.

From a product development perspective, how is Mindtree responding to storage challenges faced by enterprises today?
One of the key focuses of Mindtree is to design products with a view to enhancing manageability. The complexity associated with IT infrastructure is increasing by the day. We are working on a solution to help manage not only storage, but also server, power and cooling together, on a consolidated basis, so that enterprises can manage their infrastructures with ease.

The other thrust is in the area of Solid State Drives. We foresee great potential for this technology going forward, and we are building a transaction file system based on SSDs.

Thirdly we are utilizing virtualization to build a system that would collate heterogeneous data from various sources and operating systems and classify it as per metadata so that information is no longer siloed. So for instance files on Linux, MS Exchange, Sharepoint etc will be seen as being hosted on a single platform and can be used easily.