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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: How All-flash Storage Helps Retailers Stay Competitive

July 12, 2017 No Comments

We live in a world where consumers have more power than ever before. They have the power to dictate product development, to change how a brand creates its customer experience and they even have the power to influence their peers from engaging with a brand. But there is one area that is not commonly discussed when it comes to the power of the consumer – IT purchasing decisions.

Consumers today demand a higher level of personalization and instant gratification from their shopping experiences. To satisfy consumer demands, retailers are increasingly turning to emerging technologies like virtual reality, mobile payment capabilities and artificial intelligence to ensure they can provide consumers with enhanced shopping experiences both online and in traditional brick and mortar stores. Sundip Arora, director of product marketing at Kaminario, shares his take on how this rapid increase in retail technology means retailers must implement a solid storage backbone to handle the exponential growth of data and stay ahead of their competition.

  • Q. With the growth of ecommerce and emergence of technologies like virtual reality, mobile payment and artificial intelligence, what major hurdles do retailers face today?

A. It’s no secret that traditional retail is shrinking and forced to do a lot more with a lot less. Combine this with the inherent unpredictability of the retail market, massive technology shifts towards e-commerce and mobile payments, and you have a perfect storm that is putting unprecedented pressure on Retail CIOs. While innovation on the product side is paramount, it is not nearly enough. They key lies in leveraging the vast amount of data that has been collected over time and continues to be created at an alarming pace. For retailers, data is truly king. And leveraging insights from this data at a pace that matches the expectations of the “instant-gratification” economy will allow traditional retailers to stay relevant.

  • Q. How is cloud computing transforming the retail industry and specifically helping retailers with efficiency?

A. Cloud computing has had a tremendous impact across the industrial spectrum but perhaps nowhere is it more visible than in the retail industry. The transformation is clear in a few ways:

1) Scalable retail is not limited to a select few. Using the infrastructure provided by cloud providers, anyone can turn a brick-and-mortar operation into an online retail operation fairly quickly. For example, we see this in the hundreds of thousands of resellers on Amazon.com.

2) Moving critical workloads to the cloud, retailers have been able to right-size their operations to match the unpredictability and seasonality of their market. For instance, retailers no longer have to build over-provisioned data centers to match their peak demand which may be limited to just a few weeks in the year. Cloud infrastructures support dynamic scaling up, out and in to help maximize overall total cost of ownership (TCO). It is not just the public cloud providers offering this kind of flexibility. We see a lot of our customers are building their own hybrid or private clouds to enjoy the operational flexibility and simplicity of cloud offerings but keep a tight control over their data. What makes a strategy like this possible are architectures such as those that Kaminario has built the Kaminario K2 all-flash array on – a flexible scale-up and scale-out architecture with extreme efficiency (over 87.5%) while maintaining 99.999% availability and the performance of Flash.

  • Q. More data means storage is a key component for any retailer’s IT infrastructure. Why should retailers consider turning to all-flash storage solutions?

A. Very simply – time to insights! The retail world needs to create opportunities for better customer experiences, more customized buying choices and build loyalty through unique, customer-driven reward programs. This is only possible if the insights provided from the data are near-instantaneous. The proliferation of internet of things (IoT) devices has created more data than can be ingested, processed and turned to insights quickly without the use of cutting-edge storage technologies like Flash. In the world of storage, everything comes down to consistently high performance at consistently low latencies. Spinning media or traditional storage arrays fail at delivering this and allow for bottlenecks or hot spots that can be detrimental to getting retailers the fastest possible “time to insights.”

  • Q. How does Kaminario work with retailers to enhance their IT performance and support rapid business growth?

A. At Kaminario, we like to think one-step ahead of our customers as best we can. Within the retail space, in particular, we are seeing an unprecedented move towards modernization of the IT stack and with that, the need for:

1) Managing unpredictability by providing a super-fast storage solution that consistently performs even during extreme demand peaks

2) Drastically reducing operating expenses by shrinking overhead costs such as floor space, power, heating and cooling and providing exceptional total cost of ownership

3) Providing the flexibility of public cloud in a secure on-prem environment through small incremental scale-up and scale-out – to match the growth of the business

4) Catering to the always-on set of consumers that expect seamless and uninterrupted experiences in a connected world

As an example, Scentsy, an international fragrance company realized the strains that rapid growth was putting on their IT infrastructure. Kaminario partnered with this retail leader to bring the flexibility of cloud infrastructure to their on premise datacenters with true performance benefits for their toughest applications. Now, system management is much easier for Scentsy, and better supports the company’s rapid business growth.

As consumers continue to have the power to influence how retail brands market and sell their goods, this power will drive brands’ IT purchasing decisions. With the renewed emphasis on investing in technological innovation and offerings to strengthen competitiveness and the customer experience, investments in storage backbones will continue to be at the forefront of IT purchasers. With that in mind, the potential business benefits that stem from the addition of an all-flash storage array are clear – retailers will have the performance and scalability needed to handle the rapid growth of data and ensure they stay ahead of the next wave of consumer needs.

Sundip Arora Profile 150x150 IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: How All flash Storage Helps Retailers Stay Competitive

Sundip Arora, Global Director of Product Marketing at Kaminario, is responsible for all aspects of product marketing and brings over 13 years of experience through a multitude of technology leadership roles.

Prior to Kaminario, Sundip led regional product strategy, business planning and sales program execution at HPE’s storage division. Additionally, he’s held roles in solution architecture, pre-sales management and strategy consulting for both large corporations and growth-stage startups such as HP, Metatomix and Deloitte Consulting. Sundip has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Virginia Tech.

APPLICATION INTEGRATION, DATA and ANALYTICS , Fresh Ink, OPEN SOURCE, SECURITY, SOCIAL BUSINESS

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