IDC predicted that the global datasphere will grow to 163 zettabytes by the year 2025. The astronomical growth in the creation of data in the market today has been one of the key disruptions in enterprise IT and will continue to drive trends in the APAC market this year. The major ongoing disruptions, which has given rise to huge opportunities in data, has meant that even a tech giant like Hitachi has to be on its toes to embrace the winds of change and adapt to the fast-evolving IT market. For that reason, late last year the operations of Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Hitachi Insight Group and Pentaho were unified into a single integrated business, now known as Hitachi Vantara – bringing together their core competencies in storage, IoT and Big Data analytics in order to deal with the explosive data growth.
This week, DSA was invited to attend Hitachi Vantara’s first ever media luncheon in KL, hosted by Wee Kai Teck, Malaysia Managing Director, and KC Phua, Director for Data Solutions Group at Hitachi Vantara Asia Pacific, where they discussed some of the top business and IT trends they have observed across the APAC with different customers that, in their view, will dominate 2018.
#1: IT will adopt Internet of Things (IoT) platforms to facilitate the application of IoT solutions.
KC admitted that although they also spotted it as a trend in 2017, they were a little bit off the mark. But while many of their customers didn’t end up adopting IoT solutions wholesale, there was a greater awareness of what IoT can do for them. Therefore, KC expressed his confidence that 2018 will be the year that IoT adoption finally takes off, as IoT solutions have the potential to deliver valuable insight to support digital transformation and are rapidly becoming a strategic imperative in almost every industry and market sector.
“IoT is definitely one of those areas that we are now starting to see customers not just talk about, they are now wanting to see [what Hitachi has to offer]. At the end of the day, IoT is all about gaining efficiencies and today, we do have the platform to enable customers to imagine, and this trend we expect to continue in 2018,” said KC.
#2: Object storage gets smart
This is closely related to the growth of unstructured data, which according to KC, amounts to 90% of the data that is being created. “It’s massive. I think traditional storage may not be able to deal with such growth. We spent a large part of 2017 helping customers deal with this growth of unstructured data and this largely contributed to the explosive growth of our object storage business. In fact, that business has doubled, and we expect it to double again this year,” added KC.
Since businesses now have and deal with so much data, they are continuously looking for ways to extract value from their data. Object storage has the capacity to store large amounts of unstructured data and provide metadata management and search capability. However, companies are increasingly expecting vendors like Hitachi Vantara to drive a smarter consumption of data, for example through software that can extract data from various data silos and process it in various ways. These factors relate closely to the next two trends.
#3: Analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)
For the third and fourth trends, KC stated that businesses are no longer talking about traditional business intelligence, such as where they’re able to derive insights, predict transactions, and so on. There’s now a greater need for an analytics platform that will help people analyse unstructured data and supplement it with artificial intelligence to make their datacentre even smarter.
2018 will see a growth in analytics and AI across the board as companies see real returns on their investments. However, KC admitted at this moment in time, researchers are still working on the kinks and artificial intelligence as we know it “is not exactly artificial intelligence”. We need to apply actual [human] in intelligence to generate meaningful outcomes for IoT projects or for cyber intelligence.
He also added that as data centres are getting bigger, there’s also a growing demand for them to deliver on a self-healing data centre concept.
#4: Wider adoption of video analytics
“Almost every customer interaction that we have with security agencies in the public safety area, the number one demand is around video analytics. But while we’re seeing a lot of adoption in the security or public safety domain, we’re also seeing more and more applications [of the technology] in other areas such as retail, healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, education and entertainment. I think we’ll see the trend (the wider adoption of video analytics) very clear for us in the remaining 10 months of 2018,” KC explained.
#5: Extension of agile methodologies across the enterprise
This last trend, said KC, is very non-techy. More and more of his customers, who are non-IT, are talking about adopting agile methodology which is all about efficiency and the different elements within the business working together to drive faster and more relevant business outcomes. 2018 will see more organisations move to agile and DevOps in software development, with agile methodologies being implemented across the enterprise.
However, KC pointed out that while it’s about taking a nimble approach to business, this won’t be possible without having the right data infrastructure to support the methodology. “The fundamental of this agile technology is that you need to have this infrastructure of data coming together. Only then can they be agile. We have many customers who are non-IT coming to talk to us on how to enable their agile methodology. We talk to them and advise them, but I think the core recipe is to have that infrastructure to be agile, which is what I call object storage.”
“If you look at the five trends that we are observing, all things lead to how we deal with this explosive growth of unstructured data, how we’re able to harness the value of this data through the combined entity that we have today, that is Hitachi Vantara. We brought the different entities [of Hitachi] together to really capitalise on some of these trends, and I do believe that we have a very strong business going forward based on some of these trends that we have observed,” he concluded.
Besides these trends, KC also shared that many customers in the APAC region are also concerned about the looming GDPR that will come into effect in May this year. With non-compliance resulting in massive fines as well as the subsequent damage to brand image, GDPR, this complex, comprehensive and punitive new legislation is something businesses just cannot afford to ignore, even on this side of the world.