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Evolutions in Enterprise Storage and AI for Data Protection – Infrastructure Matters Episode 17

Evolutions in Enterprise Storage and AI for Data Protection - Infrastructure Matters Episode 17

In this episode of Infrastructure Matters, hosts Steven Dickens and Krista Macomber discuss various topics related to the IT landscape.

Key highlights include:

  • Veeam’s announcement of the second half of the 2023 update to the Veeam data platform, which includes new features such as machine learning-based anomaly detection for ransomware recovery.
  • Druva’s announcement of a natural language chatbot-type feature for its data protection platform.
  • SiFive’s launch of a new risk five set of processes, the P870 and the X390, really focusing in on AR/VR, what’s going on with high capacity AI.
  • Qualcomm’s announcement of new RISC-V chips.
  • Qualinx’s Series A raise to bring new custom silicon to market.
  • Potential industries and use cases for custom silicon in the future, such as autonomous vehicles, edge AI, and smart retail.

You can watch the video of our conversation below, and be sure to visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Listen to the audio here:

Or grab the audio on your favorite audio platform below:


Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this webcast. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this webcast.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.


Krista Macomber: Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of Infrastructure Matters. I’m Krista Macomber and I’m joined by my wonderful co-host, Steven Dickens. Steven-

Steven Dickens: Hey, Krista.

Krista Macomber: How are you doing today? Hey, how are you?

Steven Dickens: On the road today.

Krista Macomber: Always.

Steven Dickens: background for the observant people who watch our podcast on a regular basis, but this view is pretty good. It’s chaos behind here, trying to be on the road and do this from the road, but hopefully the audio on the hotel wifi manages to stick with us.

Krista Macomber: Yep. Hey, it sounds good from my end, Steven, and I know you’ve got a little bit of a whirl mentor, not just this past week but coming up as well.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, it’s a crazy few weeks. Every vendor’s got an event between now and Thanksgiving, so it seems crazy. And we’ll talk a little bit about where I’ve been this week and the time I’ve spent with Lenovo as we go into the show here.

Krista Macomber: Yeah, absolutely, Steven. But I guess before we jump into that, why don’t we maybe talk about a couple of news-related items that we’re seeing happening? I know as we’re mentioning, we’re in the thick of it for not only the fall events but also for some news announcements as well. And I know, Steven, I am actually fresh off the phone with Veeam.

Actually, the day that this podcast is going to be coming out, they are hosting what they call their VeeamON Resiliency Summit. It’s going to be a virtual event, rather than in person, but yet another event for us to look forward to participating in and being a part of. They are announcing their second half of the 2023 update to the Veeam data platform, so that includes their backup and recovery offering, it includes Veeam ONE, which is essentially their dashboard and analytics tool, and it also includes their recovery orchestrator for DR and failover. So it’s always great to spend some time-

Steven Dickens: Are we powered by AI, no doubt?

Krista Macomber: That’s going to be a part of it, and they admitted it leans a little bit more into machine learning. But you know what? That’s what we’re seeing for a lot of vendors. You know what I mean? What we’re seeing is that a lot of the times, these tools are really grounded in that machine learning to do things like help IT administrators to make smarter decisions about maybe backup schedules and to also do things like have smarter anomaly detection for ransomware recovery and things of that nature.

Steven Dickens: Are they putting a natural language interface on the front of that in order to help some of those IT ops teams navigate through the interface? Is that coming as well?

Krista Macomber: Yes, actually. They’re adding that, and then I’ll add as well that actually Druva has had announcement as well regarding a natural language chatbot-type feature. And I think this is going to be really powerful in the data protection space because when we think about being able to troubleshoot or when we think about being able to maybe do things like address a legal query and be able to essentially find information more quickly, just get things back up and running more quickly as well, I think it’s really going to help to streamline time for administrators. And as we all know, these teams are very strapped for time, they’re very strapped for staff. So I think it has the potential to be very powerful.

Steven Dickens: I think as we look at the evolution of these tools, you’re going to go command line interface, UX chatbot. I see that transition from what we’re seeing about every vendor, whether it’s IT ops tools, whether it’s data layer tools, there’s always going to be a use of Microsoft phase for a copilot or chatbot that sits on that user interface that if in doubt you don’t know where to start, you don’t know what question to ask, you can always ask in a natural language.

Krista Macomber: Yep, exactly. Definitely can help to expedite things. And another interesting area is that they’re adding some machine learning and also AI to malware detection, so be able to-

Steven Dickens: Are they?

Krista Macomber: Yep. So be able to identify malware more quickly and also feed that information into seam tools as well, so to be able to do things like better contextualize that information, have faster incident response as well. Again, it really, I think from the standpoint of cyber resiliency, that’s really where we’re going to see some benefits here.

Steven Dickens: Yeah. I think, given what’s going on in the world, the more tools and more intelligence we can bring to cyber resilience and security, the better.

Krista Macomber: Absolutely.

Steven Dickens: For sure.

Krista Macomber: So that’s been on my radar. Steven, I know you mentioned you’ve been on the road, you’ve been obviously tracking a bunch of announcements yourself. What has been top of mind for you over the last week or so?

Steven Dickens: Yeah, so Dave Raffo and I wrote about one of the vendors that we track, SiFive. They launched a new risk five set of processes, the P870 and the X390, really focusing in on AR/VR, what’s going on with high capacity AI, really drilling down. It’s interesting stuff. SiFive is an interesting company. They’ve got a valuation in the 250 to 350 million range, raised a bunch of capital, really trying to disrupt the semiconductor market against some of the entrenched incumbents with an open source model.

That’s the RISC-V foundation. Actually, a lady I used to work for, Calista Redmond, now runs, which is part of the Linux Foundation. And that’s really trying to bring a open standard approach to chip design and architecture, which it’s fascinating to see that develop. I think we are seeing a lot from SiFive particularly. They’re the big name in the RISC-V space. A lot of people are using that open source chip architecture to bring infrastructure to market, but SiFive is leading the charge there, so really interesting for me to see more going on in this space. I don’t cover Telco, but I also saw this week at Qualcomm they made some announcements on RISC-V.

Fascinating to see more going on in that space, and I think we’ll see more of that. Semiconductors used to be X86. It was Intel, it was AMD. Now, we’re seeing a proliferation of custom silicon, some of the hyperscalers with it, such as Google with TPU, AWS with Inferentia and Trainium. You’re seeing Apple with its own chip architecture. At all levels, I think we’re seeing the proliferation, so I think there’s enough market size for SiFive. And I think with what we’re seeing in autonomous vehicles, there’s lots of different spaces where we’re going to need chips.

And the classic X86 architecture from Intel is fantastic. Still a space for that, still a huge market for that in PC and server, but I think there’s space for all of the rest of these architectures to come on board. On the same thread, a company we’ve been tracking since MWC, Mobile World Congress, last year is a company called Qualinx. They made a Series A raise and announced that today, today being the 19th of October. We’ve been chatting to their CEO, Tom Trill, and the team there, and they made their raise. So fantastic to see not only innovation on some of the bigger companies, but also in the mid-size with semiconductor, but also seeing innovation with people making Series A raises to bring new custom silicon to market. So fascinating to see.

Krista Macomber: Absolutely. I know you touched on a couple of examples, autonomous vehicles being one of them, but what are maybe some industries or use cases that maybe are a little bit underserved when it comes to custom silicon today that you think might be key targets for some of these companies?

Steven Dickens: Well, I think for the SiFive piece, the P870 and the X390, they’re engineered for high performance compute. You’re going to see those in consumer automotive and in infrastructure. They’re on their third generation now, that P870. It’s aimed at high performance consumer applications or for use with a vector processor in the data center. So I think whereas previously the innovation was maybe going on at the software level and maybe it was all application-driven and the application had to take what it was given from a processor point of view, I think with the open source approach from SiFive, it’s changed the dynamics in that space. The breakage point between the chip designer and the fabricator has helped with the innovation here, I think.

For me, as we see different workloads coming on board, we see autonomous vehicles, I’ve spent some time with ANOVA, and I’ll talk about that next, but we’re seeing edge use cases for various AI-driven workloads out at the edge, smart retail, cameras to protect shrinkage, and those types of things. All of those, they’re coming at it from such a different angle that there’s… And we’re now seeing explosion in some of those spaces. Tesla’s earnings for this week, they’re still on track to ship 1.8 million cars. I don’t know how many chips are in each one of those vehicles, but assume it’s 10, maybe even could be upwards of a hundred in some of these new vehicles, you do times that by 1.8 million vehicles this year, you can see that there’s a market for this silicon and for some of these use cases.

Krista Macomber: I’d say. I’d say so, for sure.

Steven Dickens: To see Qualinx make an $8 million raise for a Series A as a GPS chip, right up to a SiFive making strides, and then been out at Lenovo this week, and we’ll pivot to that. As part of their analyst briefing, got to spend some time with YY, their CEO and chairman, and Kirk Skaugen and the rest of the leadership team. Lots of innovation going on there. Charles Ferland did a great job of talking about some of the edge use cases, and we talked about it there. When you look at that edge roadmap, I tweeted that out, it was all of the different vendors for chip manufacturers were represented in that roadmap. And I think it speaks to the point around just innovation happening at all layers of the stack.

Krista Macomber: Absolutely. Yeah, and that was a perfect segue. I know, Steven, as you mentioned, you were with the team this past week. I know you’re actually going to be out there again next week, I believe.

Steven Dickens: It’s Lenovo for two weeks they’re looking after me.

Krista Macomber: I’ve got some jealousy over here. So yeah, what else?

Steven Dickens: And they love you equally, Krista, don’t worry. They love you equally on each side.

Krista Macomber: Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, so what else, I guess, were some of the highlights that you guys talked about? I’m sure some of it was under NDA this past week, given that it was an analyst session. But what else? You just alluded a little bit to the roadmap, the discussion on the silicon perspective, but what else maybe can you share with us today?

Steven Dickens: Yeah, we’ve got Lenovo’s major event next week, so I’m expecting a whole raft of announcements, their big annual show, Tech World. That’s going to be huge. There’s going to be a lot there. Some of the previews they gave us obviously can’t mention, as NDA, and I expect those announcements to drop Tuesday and Wednesday next week, so you might be listening to this podcast as those drop. I know our team’s primed to cover all those announcements, so keep checking on our site for those as they drop. But I think the interesting thing for me, and being former IBM, I knew that Lenovo was the home for the X86 server business and the PC business. And as you track Lenovo and get access to their team, they took 48 of us down to Raleigh this week, you really get a sense for how that company is pivoting from being seen as a PC vendor to being an enterprise tech vendor. Kirk Skaugen, one of the best execs that we get to interact with, super knowledgeable about his business, really got a handle on some of the KPIs.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with him now over the last few events and always a fantastic exec, but his narrative and conversation with the market is, “We’re number three in storage. We’re number three in servers. We’re leading the market on X86, from a PC point of view.” You look at the scale and breadth, and one of the phrases that resonated with me from the discussion this week with those guys was they’ve obviously got Motorola. That business is having its best time for over the last 10 years, the Razr and some of the form factor stuff that they’re doing. “Everything from pocket to Cloud,” was the phrase. And it really struck for me as applications now are really spanning that whole gamut, whether it’s smart retail with cameras, things like the Amazon Go stores where you can just walk in, there’s nobody at the counter, and you just scan your Amazon account or your credit card and then just walk out with the shopping, right through to SmartVision. I was surprised and didn’t know maybe as much about Lenovo’s devices strategy as I do now, but where they are with VR and AR goggles and glasses for enterprise workloads, rolling those out to schools.

I think the whole spectrum is where somebody like Lenovo’s competing really robust edge computing environments, rolling those out into small factories and retail environments. It’s fascinating for me to see that and change my perceptions of what was a PC company of maybe three, four, five years ago now to a true enterprise player, everything from smart devices and phones right up to being a huge provider to hyperscale Cloud providers.

Krista Macomber: And that’s a really interesting point, Steven. I tracked Lenovo closely around the time of the acquisition of the X86 server business, the system X business. That used to be IBM’s. From my perspective, they’ve been on this journey to be an enterprise player, and I think you bring up some great points to run basically why the time is right for them now. When we think about marrying what they’ve carried forward in terms of that more enterprise leaning X86 server business that they acquired alongside, of course, the PC end of things, how it sounds like they’re marrying that with, as you mentioned, the devices end of things to really capitalize on this internet of things, it sounds like. And as you mentioned, this edge strategy, we see that being very important today considering all the edge environments that are in any given enterprise today. So that’s very interesting.

Steven Dickens: One area I know you cover and track more closely than me but surprised me in my last two or three briefings with them has been the market share they’ve now got in storage, up to number three in storage and moving up those price tiers so that it’s not just entry level server-attached storage, it’s coming up tiers into that enterprise use case. Their partnership with VMware, their partnership with Nutanix, really getting into that converged infrastructure and integrated system-type approach with packaged offerings. Just fascinating for me.

Krista Macomber: Yep. Absolutely.

Steven Dickens: Where do you see them in the storage space, Krista? I know you track that space closer than I do.

Krista Macomber: Yeah, so it’s interesting. From my perspective, the way that business is born was, as I mentioned, as they started really making that enterprise push, of course, they needed storage, especially if they were going to start selling the legacy IBM server portfolio and carry that forward from a product development perspective, so I would say it began as that’s how they got into it. And as you mentioned, I think primarily that’s really been the play, has been to, as you mentioned on the converge side, for example, really fill in those areas with those storage competencies for customers to be able to come to market with a more comprehensive portfolio and a more comprehensive offering. And as you’re mentioning, in terms of the revenue that they’re recognizing from it, it definitely seems like it’s been helping them to get that traction.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, it’s a fascinating company. As I say, Kirk is one of the best executives. The more time I spend with him, the more bullish I get on Lenovo, which I suppose is the point of them inviting me to Raleigh for the week. But it’s certainly making really strong strides into the enterprise.

Krista Macomber: Yep. Absolutely. All right, Steven, well with that, I think that concludes all of our discussion for today. I want to thank you very much. I know it’s been a crazy time for you right now with all your travels, so thank you so much for taking a few minutes here to update us today. And thank you to everyone for listening. Make sure you like, subscribe, comment, all that good stuff, and we look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

Veeam Strengthens Its BUaaS Play with Cirrus

SiFive Bumps Up Performance for RISC-V HCP, AI Systems

Qualcomm Revenue in Q3 Dips to $8.44 Billion as Mobile, IoT Soften

Author Information

Regarded as a luminary at the intersection of technology and business transformation, Steven Dickens is the Vice President and Practice Leader for Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations at The Futurum Group. With a distinguished track record as a Forbes contributor and a ranking among the Top 10 Analysts by ARInsights, Steven's unique vantage point enables him to chart the nexus between emergent technologies and disruptive innovation, offering unparalleled insights for global enterprises.

Steven's expertise spans a broad spectrum of technologies that drive modern enterprises. Notable among these are open source, hybrid cloud, mission-critical infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and FinTech innovation. His work is foundational in aligning the strategic imperatives of C-suite executives with the practical needs of end users and technology practitioners, serving as a catalyst for optimizing the return on technology investments.

Over the years, Steven has been an integral part of industry behemoths including Broadcom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and IBM. His exceptional ability to pioneer multi-hundred-million-dollar products and to lead global sales teams with revenues in the same echelon has consistently demonstrated his capability for high-impact leadership.

Steven serves as a thought leader in various technology consortiums. He was a founding board member and former Chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation. His role as a Board Advisor continues to shape the advocacy for open source implementations of mainframe technologies.

With a focus on data security, protection, and management, Krista has a particular focus on how these strategies play out in multi-cloud environments. She brings approximately a decade of experience providing research and advisory services and creating thought leadership content, with a focus on IT infrastructure and data management and protection. Her vantage point spans technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her work has appeared in major publications including eWeek, TechTarget and The Register.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Krista led the data center practice for Evaluator Group and the data center practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research. She also created articles, product analyses, and blogs on all things storage and data protection and management for analyst firm Storage Switzerland and led market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

Krista holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Journalism with a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.


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