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Automation will free up people to do more creative tasks: Joel Norton, ZeroStack


Cloud computing has moved beyond just being a niche solution to the standard way of running IT in the enterprise. There seems to be a consistent dilemma among enterprises about which type of cloud to run: public, private, or hybrid. And given much of the momentum is around hybrid cloud today, US-based ZeroStack offers a turnkey, on-premises, scale-out cloud solution that does away with the deployment and management requirements that come with traditional private cloud platforms.

Joel Norton, Regional Manager for Asia South, ZeroStack, in an exclusive interview with Techseen, discusses how the company leverages machine learning to provide customers with a cloud
infrastructure that is self-monitoring and self-healing.

Techseen: What according to you is driving cloud computing adoption today? Alternatively, is anything inhibiting cloud adoption?

Norton: Digital Transformation is the latest trend in enterprise computing – using cloud and other advanced infrastructure solutions to fundamentally change the way companies do business. The battle is between on-premises/private cloud versus public/off-premises cloud.

Enterprises need solutions that guarantee performance, latency, governance and low cost, and they want to build a self-service platform for their DevOps teams so they can provision their own resources and speed software development. People would rather consume than build, and customers want turnkey cloud solutions. The public cloud is a turnkey solution, but it may not need the performance, latency, governance and cost requirements. When it comes to private cloud, complexity is on the rise and many organizations cannot find, afford or maintain the staff needed to deploy a private cloud.

Techseen: You have developed machine learning technology, Z-COS, to facilitate the monitoring and management of hybrid cloud computing environments. What does this entail and how can enterprises benefit from it?

Norton: ZeroStack’s Z-COS enables digital transformation by converting the on-premises server clusters into a private cloud infrastructure for the user and transforming the enterprise’s existing physical infrastructure into a hyper-converged scale-out system within minutes. Unlike competing solutions in the market that require specialized hardware to implement the cloud infrastructure, Z-COS enables customers to utilize existing on-premises servers or white box servers, along with storage and networks seamlessly, thereby reducing the deployment cost significantly and accelerating deployment time.

Additionally, Z-COS provides a self-healing control system to ensure enterprises get the high availability they require for mission critical applications and services.

Techseen: Z-COS claims to reduce human intervention by creating self-driving on-premises cloud to handle management and operations. Do you think the rise of automation will lead to a dearth of jobs in the future?

Norton: No. Automation will handle the repetitive tasks and free up people to do more substantive, creative tasks. Customers know the most challenging aspect of maintaining a complex software stack is knowing when to patch, upgrade or change one element of the stack. Having intelligent software lead this process is not only a key employee time-saver, but it can ensure that there’s no downtime from software pieces conflicting and causing an outage.

Techseen: How is ZeroStack different from the existing cloud players?

Norton: For this, refer to the table below:


Techseen: At a time when companies are largely moving to the private or public cloud, why do you still continue to provide on-premises solutions?

Norton: Many companies want their own infrastructure because it gives them control over security, governance, and performance. DevOps is an in-house activity, and companies would prefer to keep DevOps infrastructure in-house.

Techseen: Would you suggest an amalgamation of public and private clouds for those as yet uncertain about possible data security breaches in the cloud, where they have sensitive data in the private cloud?

Norton: Yes. Private cloud allows companies to keep sensitive data on premises, while public cloud allows limitless scalability for less-sensitive workloads.

Techseen: You have recently acquired new customers and partners in Singapore. What key technology trends do you see emerging in the country?

Norton: Largely our traction is from companies needing a new platform for software development, so called agile Continuous Infrastructure/Continuous Development and Deployment (CI/CD). Traditional virtualized systems do not have the operational ease nor did the SaaS based, self-service consumption of the public cloud that is so compelling. And of course, since these development tools and the software itself are very strategic to a company, enterprises want to host this infrastructure either on premises, or serviced through a local cloud / managed service provider.

Techseen: You use AI to self-manage on-premises cloud. How do you think AI and IoT will drive innovation in the next 5 years?

Norton: AI will become a mainstream technology in many areas of life over the next five years, and the IoT will grow to impact the design of most products.

Techseen: In case of data loss or disruption, how quickly can a client restore data from your cloud platform? What does your restore process look like and what kind of support you render to your clients during restoration?

Norton: We have a high availability / resilient architecture to support always-on thinking. With integrated backup and integration with well-branded storage solutions like Nimble Storage, Nexenta, HPE/3Par and others, we can tailor our solutions to match the needs of customers while helping them conserve capital expenses.

Techseen: How do you see enterprise cloud computing evolving over the next couple of years?

Norton: We are moving to a multi-cloud world, where enterprises use both on-premises and off-premises cloud to manage resources for their employees. Virtually every enterprise will incorporate cloud technology to increase its DevOps and overall business agility.

Techseen: What is your current team strength? Do you plan to expand further into the APAC region?

Norton: I have been managing rapid growth for US-based start-ups for years, including companies like Panasas, and see a very similar trajectory for the Singapore region. So yes, in short we do expect to grow and see very healthy interest in the ZeroStack intelligent cloud platform.

Sharmistha Mukherjee
A tech savvy humanBOT, Sharmistha is a professional writer A tech savvy humanBOT, Sharmistha is a professional writer who engages in technical writing to simplify the use of a product or service. With a high inclination towards IoT and Artificial Intelligence, she fancies exploring all plausibilities around the subjects. Her interests revolve around connecting to people and excavating the "unexplored" through first hand investigation.