As work from home becomes the norm across industries, the need for secure systems and infrastructure has become key for any company’s business continuity plan (BCP).
In light of this new normal, Vivek Sharma, Managing Director, Lenovo Data Centre Group (DCG), talks to YourStory about the importance of data centres in bringing stability and security to the post-COVID-19 workplace.
Vivek has close to 25 years of experience across enterprise sales, cloud, data centre services, and more. Prior to this, he worked at Dimension Data and Wipro. At Lenovo DCG, Vivek is responsible for the profitable growth of the company’s data centre market in India.
Lenovo DCG delivers cost-effective, reliable, and scalable data centre solutions by combining industry-leading technology and software-defined offerings with a suite of managed services across a technology’s lifecycle. It focuses on several sectors including but not limited to manufacturing, government, and retail.
According to Vivek, “The future of the office or the mobile workspace (and therefore work) is essentially the data centre.”
Lenovo DCG has been working with companies to power solutions that don’t just attempt to plug the hole in the roof for the time being but also plan a path to recovery and future growth through innovation.
How do you see the data centre landscape evolving from the pre-COVID-19 era to today?
Vivek Sharma (VS): As more companies adopt new technologies such as hybrid cloud, edge computing, and software-defined infrastructure — all of which require considerable processing power — we have seen tremendous growth in the data centre space in recent years.
In India, specifically, this trend was only further reinforced by government initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, and ‘Smart City Mission’. COVID-19 has only accelerated this process to an unimaginable speed. From a consumer perspective, everything from food, shopping, entertainment, and connecting with loved ones has moved to the virtual space.
Supporting a remote-working infrastructure, ensuring data security and stability for effective BCP, and maintaining services have been some of the biggest concerns for C-suite executives across organisations.
Against this backdrop, data centres have emerged as an integral player in supporting these behavioural shifts and enabling the world to move to a ‘new normal’, and start afresh with a ‘smart normal’.
In a post-COVID-19 world, what is the importance of data centres?
VS: The post-pandemic office culture will involve employees collaborating online rather than offline. Workspaces may also involve new forms of automation to ensure social distancing and employee safety.
Consumer demand will put more strain on digital assets. And underpinning all these changes is technology. Whether it’s increased bandwidth, computing capacity or storage —these solutions will be powered by the data centre.
For instance, the demand for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions that help manage workloads and connectivity is growing, especially among SMBs and organisations with lean or no IT departments.
How have Lenovo DCG solutions evolved to serve customers in the post-COVID-19 world?
VS: We are working hard to continue producing and developing products that our customers use to address the challenges they face — for the current climate and for the post-pandemic world.
For example, many organisations are wondering how they can return to the workplace or how employees can make their homes the new permanent workplace. We’ve seen strong demand from banks, governments, healthcare institutions, and enterprises for BCP and VDI solutions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on employee productivity and data security.
Our ThinkAgile software-defined infrastructure (SDI) offerings deliver an all-in-one cloud system on-premise. Businesses can also use building-blocks of software to virtualise infrastructure components of computing, storage, and networking.
We’ve also been putting our technology through paces, partnering with Intel to support genomics research work through our HPC cluster to accelerate the development of vaccines for COVID-19 and other challenges.
What is the importance and role of data centre security in a post-COVID-19 world?
VS: We all know that the cost of a data breach — tangible and intangible — can make or break a business. And there’s no denying that with the world in lockdown, digital traffic and data usage is up exponentially, meaning that there’s also a significant increase in sensitive and proprietary data crossing the web.
Additionally, enterprises are now having to manage various potential risk factors as employees log-in remotely. Hence, protecting the four walls of an office isn’t enough anymore.
This makes data centre security paramount to a business. There are several technologies businesses can deploy to achieve this. For example, VDI enables enterprises to clone a desktop, host it on a central server, and deliver it over a network to be accessed from anywhere, simultaneously controlling who is authorised.
What kind of technological innovations/trends can we expect now and how will it change Lenovo DCG’s focus?
VS: COVID-19 caught many companies by surprise. Enterprises across the globe have rushed to find stop-gap solutions to maintain business continuity. But in many cases, these solutions will only be temporary fixes built to address short-term needs.
Looking ahead, in a post-pandemic world and the new ‘Smart Normal’, we will see two trends.
- Organisations attempting to return to ‘status quo’
- Organisations deciding to take this opportunity to rethink their operations.
We’ve already seen a growing demand for hybrid cloud, edge computing, etc., in recent years but it’s interesting that several industries — education, healthcare, retail, etc. — that hadn’t necessarily been embracing new technological infrastructures, are now looking to review how they can do so.
Behavioural changes [due to COVID-19] are bound to last and follow, requiring companies to rethink their data centre requirements in the near and long-term.
At Lenovo DCG, we strive to bring smarter technologies to all because we believe that putting the best technology in the hands of more people leads to better ideas and solutions.
Now, more than ever, we are seeing the value of having the right technology, whether it is a medical researcher working on a vaccine, a teacher leading a class online, or individuals using the internet at home to get their work done.
As a technology provider, we see it as our mission to support customers and partners alike to not only navigate these unforeseen interim challenges through cost-effective solutions but also plan a path to recovery and future growth through innovation.