Enterprise Executive recently caught up with Greg Lotko, vice president, IBM Storage Systems Development, as he was traveling through Texas to learn about his new role, the objectives he seeks to accomplish and the advances being made in storage.

Enterprise Executive: In your new role as vice president, IBM Storage Systems Development, your organization is experiencing a significant shift in the market with the explosion of data. What is your message to clients and development teams about why the world-class technology IBM develops is a differentiator?

Greg Lotko: With the explosion of data, storage administrators can’t keep doing the same things they’ve been doing for the last 10 to 15 years. They can’t afford to learn different management interfaces, manually place data to avoid hot spots and have different techniques for copy management dependent on a particular storage device. The clients’ message is clear: They need a data architecture that separates data from storage devices. They should be managing data, not managing storage. My message to the development team is straightforward: We need to make this easier for our clients by engineering storage products that manage themselves. We need to transform data through the eyes of the client. It’s not like we’re just starting with this focus. If you look at IBM’s portfolio, we’ve already made strides on this front, for example, with capabilities in XIV with automatic data placement, Easy Tier auto-tiering, the data virtualization platform (SVC) and Real-time compression.

EE: Tell us why you’re here in Texas today.

Lotko: Global teams are key to delivering our strategy. Our people, with their diverse technical talent, are one of our greatest differentiators. It’s the depth and breadth of talent, not just in our core technology and development teams, but our service, supply chain, sales support and business partners who together enable growth opportunities in the marketplace. I’m here to meet the people who develop the innovative solutions that help our clients succeed. Today it’s Texas with our team that focuses on flash, but in my first three months in this role, I’ve committed to visit each of the primary labs around the world where our storage technologies are developed. I'm reminding the storage team that everything starts with the client; how they can leverage our technology, why simplicity matters to them and how we’re helping them solve business problems. I’m also talking about why I wanted to be a part of our storage business. It’s an exciting time to be developing high-value innovations that make a real difference in our clients’ businesses—driven by the speed and efficiency in which they can access their data.

EE: Since you’re visiting with the team in Texas, could you please reflect on the acquisition of Texas Memory Systems (TMS) and tell us why this was so significant.  

Lotko: To succeed in today’s fast-paced IT world, businesses need to be able to not only develop world-class technology in-house, but be equally adept at acquiring technology and effectively integrate those technologies and teams to quickly address market needs. At IBM, we do both of these very well. Our world-class development teams have delivered, and continue to deliver, state of the art technology: Data virtualization platform (SVC), DS8000 enterprise storage, the Storwize family, tape drives and libraries. No company can invest in every technology to perfectly align with market needs. TMS is an example of a company that was a clear leader in all-flash storage. Like most storage companies, we had been leveraging flash in systems designed for disk drives. As flash reached a tipping point that made it cost-effective to apply all-flash storage with its inherent latency advantages, we moved rapidly to satisfy our clients’ needs.

EE: How do you explain to clients that storage is transforming and how do you get them to recognize the value of setting the data agenda?

Lotko: IBM plays a critical role in transforming the speed, efficiency and cost of business for clients, and that’s where the conversation about data economics begins. Clients are drowning in data and spending too much money on storage. If a client’s strategy is to manage, protect and get the most value from their data by moving, optimizing and connecting it in a secure environment—as I mentioned before—they should be managing data instead of managing storage. Information is any organization’s most critical asset and information is derived from data. The efficient management of data is critical to successful cloud and Big Data initiatives. If they’re spending more of their budget and workforce’s time managing storage than getting value from their data, they won’t be able to keep up with competitors who are. As part of the data agenda, innovation is accelerated when we collaborate with clients and partners.

EE: You mention virtualization as a differentiator in data management. Can you tell us more about the three primary benefits of data architecture and how data virtualization contributes to those.

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