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Alex Wang believes customers will have a greater need for storage speed in the near future.
The CEO of Synology America predicts storage industry trends will lead to greater adoption of faster storage from solid-state drives (SSDs) and other flash and memory devices. Tighter recovery timeframes combined with the rising frequency of ransomware attacks, a growing desire to reuse secondary data for analytics or other business ends and the need to meet compliance requirements such as GDPR all mean businesses want their underlying hardware to perform faster.
Synology, known for its network-attached storage (NAS) appliances, is a global company headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. Wang said the overall business is about evenly split between Europe, Asia Pacific and the U.S. Wang pointed out some important differences between different global markets, as well as some customer demands common to all locations.
We spoke with Wang about customer challenges and how Synology plans to address them as it prepares to go into beta with its Disk Station Manager (DSM) 7 web-based NAS operating system.
What important things are happening in the world of storage?
Alex Wang: I see lots of important things happening right now. Like data stored on a storage server -- it's just data. Customers want to make that data useful. But to make the data useful, they need to be able to analyze it. And to analyze the data, you need to have fast storage servers.
In the past 20 years, we've seen capacity grow 1,000 times, but the speed of hard drives didn't really grow too much. Now, we will see SSDs start to take over the market. And because of SSDs, the storage server speed can be fast enough for people to make their data useful.
What do you see as the biggest storage IT challenges customers are dealing with today?
Wang: The biggest challenge is data security, I feel. You see lots of news on ransomware, especially targeting small businesses or local governments who don't really have money to put into IT infrastructure. And so if they don't have a good backup solution, their data will be at risk.
And then, to solve this issue, you need to back up your data. But to back up your data, it brings in another challenge. Your data is now stored in a cloud, on premises in a different type of physical server, in a VM -- everywhere. So that's why with Active Backup, we focused on having a centralized backup solution.
I feel with GDPR having just launched, we start to discuss how to protect privacy, so data privacy will become an important issue for IT. When businesses deploy their storage solutions, they need to think about whether it can comply with their data privacy policies.
Due to data privacy, people have concern on storing data in the cloud. Maybe it will get hacked, or the data is accessible from everywhere. That's why we are working on Hybrid Share in DSM 7.0, which will encrypt data in local NAS and in the cloud, but access will still be very fast because of the local cache.
What's Synology working on right now?
Wang: The storage world changes very fast. Right now, cloud has become very popular. People realize a lot of workloads can be put on the cloud, so they're moving toward hybrid. Our focus is to create a hybrid solution.
What are the differences between the Asian market and the U.S.?
Wang: Cloud adoption is not that popular in Asia. Instead of cloud mail service, they prefer to have their own on-premises mail server. We actually have a mail server product through Synology NAS, and they like it.
In the U.S., cloud is very popular. Using cloud mail servers like Gmail or Office 365 is very easy for a small business to use. So their focus is how to back up their cloud workload instead of how to install and deploy on-premises.
Why is cloud more popular in the U.S.?
Wang: I feel in a lot of APAC countries, their infrastructure is not there yet. The open web is not there. A cloud solution is not available in those countries. Even though some public clouds are global brands and do business in Asia, it is not as convenient as in the U.S. For example, there are some payment issues -- companies [in Asia] prefer wire transfer or bank transfer, and cloud providers might not offer those payment methods. Also, bandwidth for cloud service is not perfect.
In the end, the adoption for cloud is not as fast, but I would say they are moving in that direction. There are many workloads that are actually better if put in the cloud, and people are slowly becoming aware of that. It's just slower than in the U.S.