Western Digital to see tremendous opportunity for storage in India-NVMe SSD augmenting...

Western Digital to see tremendous opportunity for storage in India-NVMe SSD augmenting next-generation storage and system architectures’ evolution

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Mr. Khalid Wani, Director, Sales, India, Western Digital

Western Digital is a leader in data infrastructure, and the company is driving the innovation needed to help customers capture, preserve, access and transform an ever-increasing diversity of data. Western Digital offers an expansive portfolio of technologies, storage devices, systems and solutions for business and consumers alike. Our data-centric solutions are comprised of the Western Digital, G-Technology, SanDisk and WD brands.

From industrial SD and microSD cards to data center offerings like open standards, architectures and devices, the company’s portfolio of enterprise and commercial products helps businesses unlock the value of data.

In a conversation with NCN, Mr. Khalid Wani, Director, Sales, India, Western Digital talks about the strategy, responsiveness, and agility of the company during the pandemic and its innovative solutions to amplify the sales of the company. 

Q. Please briefly share your views on the overall growth of Western Digital in the Indian storage market in the Year 2020?  What are the growth drivers in India for storage?

Every sector faced disruptions due to the lockdown during the first quarter of FY2020, and the Indian storage market was no exception. With the market opening, the sector recovered lost ground and was back on track in the other nine months. The storage industry has done better as people embraced technology for managing their personal and professional lives. The aspects that have become new normal now, like work from home, study from home, and playing from home, have increased the adoption of digital technologies to ensure that there is continuity in our personal and professional lives. 

All digital gadgets that have become a mainstay of our lives today have seen a good demand in the market. The only thing common in these devices is storage, so all these devices create and consume content. Most importantly, everything that is created today needs to be stored for consumption later or for analysis. Storage has increased because people use their gadgets to create newer content that has made a good year for the storage industry. We expect that the scenario going forward will continue to be the same from a long-term perspective. 

The newer digital habits will fuel the growth from a consumer perspective and ensure continuity from a business perspective. Consumers have become more conscious about the importance of the data leading to increased efforts to backing up their data. Businesses are going digital and adopting a combination of online and offline go-to-market models. The increase in PC consumption which has grown after a continuous decline over the years, is a growth driver for storage. An increase in mobile and PC gaming has increased the consumption of the type of storage required to get the right experience. The need to back up data and store business data have together led to increasing requirements for storage solutions.

The pandemic has increased cloud consumption and adoption by enterprises as they are looking at modernizing their traditional IT infrastructure and move beyond on-premises storage solutions. Adopting IoT sensors that are explicitly delivering a particular type of data recording service ranging from CCTV camera or a temperature sensor, are creating a large amount of data on a real-time basis, which is an essential play in driving the proper storage.

Creating environments for data to thrive has always remained our core focus. We power and enable data of all types: big data, fast data, data in the cloud, data at the edge, data at the device level, and more. We are witnessing huge potential in the data storage solution industry and looking forward to tapping the opportunity by data deluge by digitalization. 

Q. What are the upcoming technology trends in the storage market? Which other product portfolio are you planning to foray into?

NVMe technology is redefining data storage, both in consumer and commercial space. It simply means faster access to data so that performance of the device is increased. We have integrated NVMe technology in our consumer, professional, and enterprise segment to offer top-notch performance and ultra-low latencies. NVMe is the protocol of today, but it’s also the foundation for next-gen IT infrastructure. It significantly impacts businesses and what they can do with data, particularly Fast Data for real-time analytics and emerging technologies.

Zoned Namespaces (ZNS) SSDs are new generation SSDs pivotal in the evolution of data-centric architectures as we enter the zettabyte age. According to IDC, the amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years. ZNS helps to solve storage problems for cloud, analytics, AI, and machine learning. The Ultrastar® DC ZN540 ZNS NVMe SSD is augmenting next-generation storage and system architectures’ evolution by delivering higher throughput, better service quality, and lowering the total system cost of ownership at-scale. We have recently refreshed our SanDisk portable product line-up, delivering higher performance over the previous generation and much-needed warranty coverage to ensure that people’s investments are protected.  

Q. What will be the scope of gaming in India?

Gaming has now emerged as an essential pillar of the entertainment industry in India. People are actively engaging in multiplayer gaming, allowing them to stay connected within the confines of their homes during the pandemic that limited their social interactions. Mobile and PC gaming have become a favorite pass time across age groups, leading to many actions in the esports industry. The increase in gaming has resulted in substantial growth for storage, i.e., required to get the right gaming experience. Gaming is an important emerging market for Western Digital and to tap the untapped potential, we have recently launched our WD_BLACK™ SN850 NVMe SSDand WD_BLACK™ AN1500 NVMe SSD Add-in-Cardthat delivers top tier performance for gaming and hardware enthusiasts and pushes the boundaries of ordinary SSD performance.

Western Digital offers a strong storage portfolio providing the right experience for gamers in India. WD_BLACK internal and external SSD portfolio offers a highly immersive PC gaming experience. It allows playing the latest games that occupy gigabytes of storage and will need to be retrieved quickly for you to have the best gameplay experience. Extended storage for Smartphones like a SanDisk extreme microSD card ensures that your phones are not filled, and you can access the game from a microSD card in a seamless manner. 

Q. What are the challenges in Data Management and how do Western Digital products help?

Due to increased digitalization, there is a plethora of data being created which request efficient management and storage. Our consumer flash storage portfolio has SanDisk memory zone, a user-friendly app that allows managing content spread across consumers’ smartphone, microSD card, USB, and cloud through a single app, mainly designed for Android smartphones. We have a similar functionating app for iPhone users named SanDisk Ixpand Drive.

Our portable storage front has a Western Digital discovery tool that comes with a Western Digital portable storage portfolio and allows us to manage content that has been read on the PC effectively, including giving automatic backup. 

The Western Digital Black portfolio comes with a gaming dashboard that optimizes performance in the game and uses the PC for regular applications. On the surveillance side, we have a solution software solution called Western Digital Device Analytics that helps optimize the analytics software to ensure easy access to content and ensure that the entire process happens seamlessly and effectively.

Q. What are the marketing strategies that you have adopted to increase sales?

We have built our marketing strategy with the intent to build a strong brand portfolio. We cater to across consumer, professional, and enterprise segments. Our data-centric solutions are comprised of the Western Digital®, G-Technology™, SanDisk®, and WD® brands that include WD_Black™- specially curated for gamers, WD Purple™-for smart video, and Western Digital Ultrastar® for data centers.  

We have a robust channel partner network that helps us reach out to Tier2 and Tier3 markets. Channel partners are a natural extension of our business, allowing us to tap untapped markets.  We keep informing our channel partners to arm and prepare them to deal with changing consumer needs, market dynamics and educating them on Western Digital products and solutions. 

We run different programs like TechTalk- an app-based training module for channel partners, and WhatsApp business platform to engage with channel partners to address newer opportunities emerging in the current environment. Thereby able to create demand for partners to revive and grow their business quickly.

Q. During this tough time, how are you handling the Partners? Do you run any special programmers for motivating your partners? If yes, please explain

The entire partner ecosystem is affected by the second COVID19 wave. At Western Digital, we strongly empathize with our channel partners and understand what they are going through in such circumstances, and that they require a very different kind of care, concern, and offering.  

We have accepted that this is not going to be a regular business period and recalibrated the channel reward program to mirror what is possible to help channel partners achieve their targets under the program. We have moderated my Western Digital Partner rewards program to help the partners achieve their set objectives and get incentivized. We are running joint programs to help them generate demand during these challenging times. We have equipped our partners with Go Digital Kits to send out relevant information about our products using digital and social media so that they can connect with their consumers during these challenging times.  

Q. Please briefly share what are your service support policies to your customers across India?

To ensure that our customers are provided with uninterrupted support, we have contact centers that help customers with inquiries related to products, warranty, technical support, and device replacements. Channel partners can also contact these contact centers on behalf of their customers, and accessible from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm from Monday to Saturday.  We have toll-free numbers (1800-4195592 and 1800-1205899) to help you locate a contact center or information related to products, etc. We have over 75 drop centers to drop drives in case of issues, and replacement is shipped within 7 -10 working days and 25 over counter centers for immediate relief, depending on stock availability. 

Q. Kindly let us know the road ahead for Western Digital in India?

We witness no end in sight for the exponential growth of data that is happening across the globe. Newer requirements are coming into play, for instance, blockchain and its use cases in cryptocurrencies. In mining cryptocurrency, a lot of data needs to be written, which eventually requires a lot of storage. We can only see tremendous opportunity for Western Digital in India, given the importance of data for business, personnel, and governance requirements. 

Western Digital will play a significant role in the data life cycle, starting from capturing, preserving, analyzing, and archiving data. We intend to closely monitor the emerging needs of consumers across different market segments and provide the right data storage solution. For instance, we see exponential growth in terms of content creation happening in India’s media entertainment industry due to the OTT surge backed by traditional music and the Bollywood industry. The sector has two essential requirements. One is managing the data workflow while creating content, and the other postproduction to archive the finished product.