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Friday, 28 August 2015 11:30

Top five megatrends for ANZ business over next five years


Data storage and management company NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) has released the results of an in-depth study which highlights the megatrends that Australian and New Zealand business and IT leaders believe will affect their organisations over the long-term.

The results of a May 2015 Tech Research Asia survey of 468 ANZ organisations, (90 in New Zealand, 378 in Australia), show that the top five megatrends are considered either “somewhat” to “very” disruptive by business and IT leaders:

1.            Economic Change (selected by 46% of CIOs and 49.6% of CxOs)

2.            Technology Innovation and the Internet (selected by 44% of CIOs and 47% of CxOs)

3.            Changing Consumer Expectations and Behaviours (selected by 32.5% of CIOs and 40% of CxOs)

4.            Population Growth (selected by 31% of CIOs and 30% of CxOs)

5.            Ageing Population (selected by 18% of CIOs and 26.5% of CxOs)

When the results are filtered by industry other megatrends like ‘cyber-attacks’, ‘the rise of Asian economies’, ‘global warming’, ‘access to and quality of education’, and ‘challenges to healthcare and disease prevention’ feature prominently as concerns for ANZ business and IT leaders.

Twenty-five percent of ANZ organisations say they are already using data analytics to prepare for the arrival of these megatrends. However, both business and IT leaders note a raft of challenges with using this data including:

  • 30% of CxOs struggle to find people with the right skills to analyse the data and 31% have difficulty with timeliness of access to data
  • 41% of CIOs find it challenging to secure their data, while 20% are concerned about a lack of data portability across providers
  • 33% of CIOs and CxOs are challenged to find cost-effective storage of data
  • 28% of CxOs are also concerned their internal data managed skills are not strong enough

Which is why NetApp is interested.

Steve Manley, Managing Director, NetApp ANZ said, “The research tells us that, on average, ANZ organisations perceive an improvement of anywhere between 18% to 32% in a range of financial metrics and operational activities by using data more effectively. NetApp is investing in a data fabric architecture and framework to make hybrid IT simpler, faster and more secure. Regardless of what industry you are in, this data fabric will be as critical in dealing with the long-term impacts of the megatrends as it is for achieving near-term goals.”

Tim Dillon, Director, Tech Research Asia said, “We know that the majority of ANZ organisations either want or have a cloud strategy. These companies’ desire data and application portability across all of the services and infrastructure they consume – including on-premises equipment. As the impacts of these broad megatrends start to be more acutely felt, the value of being able to manage data seamlessly across a hybrid environment to generate insights – and more importantly to take action – will become vastly more apparent.”

I was part of a briefing with NetApp’s George Kurian, CEO and Rick Scurfield, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific.

George was focused on the term Data Fabric. NetApp believes that a hybrid IT (on premise and in cloud) architecture will become the leading IT deployment model for the next decade or more. Customers are attracted by the speed and scale benefits of the cloud but need new data management strategies to keep control of their data as this crucial asset moves beyond the walls of the enterprise. NetApp’s vision for enabling customers to achieve both data control and choice in IT deployment models in this new world is called the data fabric.

He was concerned that the understanding of the term Data Fabric by CIOs and CXOs, “We have to seamlessly manage data across all stores and devices. The most critical components of any solution include data management, data transport, data services, and data storage, retrieval and backup. It is getting such that we also need a personal data fabric as well as an enterprise one [in relation to where data is stored].”

The following comments are paraphrased.

Journalists asked about NetApp’s Q1/16 financial results – a revenue of US$1.335 billion dollars and a net loss of $30 million. “NetApp has $5 billion in the bank so it would be difficult to do worse but it has given us good guidance for the next quarter – it is clear that we have a lot more work to do,” said Kurian.

Customers are reducing spend on traditional storage and slowing investment in the capacity expansion of their traditional storage environments. Both of these dynamics lowered new unit shipments and put downward pressure on product revenue, despite growth in other parts of the business.

Rick gave an overview of NetApp’s business conditions in the Asia Pacific region. “My territory covers from India to Japan to Australia and New Zealand – and all in between,” he said.

Japan are the ‘thinkers‘. How will we do this [data fabric] over the next 5-10 years? They plan and do not deviate.

China is pure chaos. There is no central command and control mentality [of data policy], no long-term view [of data storage]. They tend to stick to Chinese providers and its difficulty for multi-nationals to do business.

Korea is amazing with a huge hi-speed infrastructure that supports high performance cloud infrastructure but only the top few companies are embracing cloud.

Singapore is a mature, safe environment for data. Not so, with Malaysia, Indonesia and other ASEAN nations that have under-developed infrastructure and sometimes challenging views.

India has huge challenges – many individuals do not have personal bank accounts and utilities, banks and telecoms are slowly opening up to the ideal of a data fabric.

Australia (and New Zealand) is amazing. It is highly technologically advanced, there is an acceptance of virtualisation, great infrastructure (dark fibre) and they are willing to buy based on new thinking and concepts [data fabric] – not necessarily on dollars per megabyte storage. Australians expect technology to be a given – they simply want to know how to use it best.

In all I learned that NetApp is a strong player in data storage and management – its futures are tied to convincing users that a data fabric approach is best.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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