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Episode 26 of The Andy Show

Episode 26 of The Andy Show

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:10] Good afternoon and welcome to The Andy Show. It’s Tuesday, it’s not Monday. The back holiday has been, it’s Tuesday, the 26th of May 2020. We’re reaching the end of May. I can’t believe at the time just seems to flow. Thank you everybody, for watching us. Obviously, we’re on a Disruptive LIVE and our Twitter is Disruptive LIVE, #DisruptiveLIVE. And don’t forget to check out our website, disruptive.live I am absolutely delighted to be joined by my very special guest today all the way from Lenovo, the king of data centers himself. I am delighted to be joined by Tikiri. Tikiri, welome.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:01:01] Welcome. Thank you very much for having me on your show, Andy.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:01:04] That’s no problem at all. I’m very excited to have you on. Everybody I speak to, they said Lenovo, they said, Tikiri, Tikiri, Tikiri. It must be Tikiri. So at 3 minutes past 12 on the 26th. Tikiri, do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:01:23] Okay, Andy yeah, so I’ve been in the- you can can tell from my grey hairs, I’ve been in the I.T. industry a long, long time. Actually, I joined the industry when the P.C. was starting up. So and I’ve been in the industry during various roles, primarily between actually between hardware and software. And now my current role is really advising customers in the Europe, Middle East, Africa region. If they’re planning changes to the data centre, they want to know what the technology is coming down the pipeline, etc.. I go and advise them, etc.. So it’s been a very, very interesting time. You’d have never guessed it going from the P.C. to these massive data centres and what’s possible here. But that’s really my background.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:02:18] Fantastic. Well, you know, the landscape too- the landscape has changed, X86 used to be king and mainframes and things like that. They used to be the big things and then people start to move onto different systems. But I think you’re about to tell me that X86 is still king.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:02:39] Yes. You know, you’re absolutely right. When I when I first joined, I believe it was very much a mainframe centric world. The P.C. started changing all of that. Suddenly you see this move to distributed computing, okay? And that’s the reason is because the applications are now full application. And that’s the key because the applications contained the business processes, right? As soon as they started getting onto P.C. suddenly the business started moving out from the data centre, okay? But then you had as a swing back in when people realise, hey, wait a minute, this is all this valuable stuff out there. We need to take control, etc.. And it’s gone through various different iterations, right? You’ve seen Cloud computing, right? Absolutely massive in the market right now, okay? But the fundamental building block that’s sort of the building block in large quantities is the X86 microprocessor and that’s a software statement again, okay? And it’s really exciting because it’s like in my role. It’s used in all different types of industries. right? So I’m very lucky and very fortunate to have education news that that system, governments, banks, insurance companies, car manufacturers, so it’s one sort of one technology, but it’s used by so many different organisations types. And that’s what really makes things exciting about it.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:04:16] Yeah, and it’s absolutely true. There’s. I mean, I’ve spoken to many financial institutions. I mean, some of them are still using mainframes back from the golden days, shall we say. But there’s applications. These applications are stable. They’ve been running for years. They are, but people need them. I can instantly see why X86 market. So what what kind of- what kind of… Your areas are data centres. So because of course, when I think X86, I think of my computer, my laptop, whatever it is. But what I really want to dig into is the interesting bit, is the data centres. What makes the data centre run? So could you tell me a little bit by X86 place in the data centre?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:05:00] Yeah, sure. I mean, can I just step back one bit on the mainframe side? It is horses for courses. So, we all like to think, oh, that’s Dad and all good to go to this. It’s not like that. It’s still very, very relevant, okay? And then X86 is relevant for different reasons, okay? But so data centres. What makes it interesting and what makes it different? Really it’s the scale, right? The quantities that is what is unbelievable here, right? So when you go into data centres today, they’re size of football pitches in some cases. Especially when you’re going into things like enough for these big folks, the Googles, the Amazons, etc.. right? You’re seeing monster capability. But the reason for that is when I joined the industry, the only people doing I.T. were businesses and organisations, right? So the scale was much, much smaller. Now, every single thing I mean, got my phone here. This thing is a window into a data centre, right? Awesome. My fridge here. I’m in the kitchen here. My fridge could be connected up. All of these things, right? So it’s what’s happened is the scale, it has just exploded beyond all recognition, right? And that means the data from this thing has to go somewhere, right? And that means it’ll go into a data centre somewhere near you. Yeah. And that is where the explosion is. It’s the fact, it is the fact that it’s every single person on the planet has the capability, right? Of getting on. And that is the growth you see, this is going from a business organisational thing to an everybody thing, okay? And that’s what makes it very interesting, because it has to be this. There’s so many things that come in with that. It’s got to be very easy to use, right? And you find, you don’t need education to use these things, right? People just go and click away and ask somebody and everything, right? So lots of things that happened. Ease of use has happened. As I said, that the cost dramatically. And that’s a it’s a question of scale as well. right? Some of the machines that I had when I joined, only very few people could buy these things, right? But when I joined, I don’t forget when I left college. It was 10,000 pounds for a P.C. Right? And it was like. Yeah, yeah. It was like I was thinking on a how longerr I could save up to get this thing, you know. And it was lucky I joined a company that made them so. The ones we worked on are quite interesting. Yeah. It was a desktop, it was a desktop thing. But the funniest one was one Christmas I had the first generation of the portables and that was 28 pounds, in weight.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:08:11] Oh.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:08:14] You have to be seriously fit to carry this thing, right? And the screen was tiny, was a little orange, screen, a tiny little thing.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:08:23] I think I’ve see this.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:08:23] Yeah, but as the industry, as it spreads, as the electronics moves into the consumer market, the volumes increase, the prices come down. And now you’re talking like, you know, with things like the Raspberry Pi. It’s a tiny little thing, you know. Yeah. USP keys are holding machines, etc.. Okay?

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:08:48] Oh, it’s ridiculous how the industry has changed. I mean, I remember. Oh, God. I remember back in the day I have an install of my 7 discs, MS-6.101 and then put Windows 3.1 on top of that. I didn’t have Windows 3.5.1.1, clearly, I wasn’t special enough. But it’s amazing how things have changed in quiet. I mean, I say short time, but this is my lifetime from the dial up modem to everybody working from home. And I’ve seen the advances of technology during this lock down. I mean, we can never had this conversation in 5, 10 years ago. You wouldn’t be able to do this working from home certainly wouldn’t build do this whole digital selling online but maybe 10 years ago. It’s just, it’s amazing the change that that’s occurred in such a short space time. But it’s with that in mind. I’m gonna ask you my next question around about the data centre trends. So what are the data center trends that you currently see?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:09:53] Okay, so it’s a very actually this is a very important time in the industry. That’s one of the reasons, you know, Lenovo is very focussed on this. It’s because there’s like two or three major sort of megatrends hitting the data centre. The first megatrend is the impact of Cloud, and Cloud computing. okay? Now that is actually, it’s been running for about 10 years, okay? And the initial idea was everything’s gonna go to Cloud, right? Shut up shop, going to go to the Cloud okay? And, well, then people started doing all of this. It became a little bit trickier than they thought. Some of that, again, it was the application. You can’t some applications are very, very tied to the hardware. They’re very- they’ve been around for ages. You don’t throw them out lightly because they make loads of money, okay? So, you know, you got to watch these things very carefully. So now, so that trend to the Cloud is more nuanced. It’s not everybody on the Cloud story. It’s there’s this idea of hybrids. Some of your work is gonna stay on premise, okay? And some of it may be sensible to move out. And you’ve got to decide. And that’s not easy. It’s not easy, right? To get it right, okay? So that’s kind of a nuance. It’s a much more nuanced approach. And the customer can choose between multiple Cloud players as well. It’s not just one big Cloud you can go to. You may want to use Google. You might want to zero for different things. So now is also, one dimension, is this Cloud thing? And hybrid Cloud. So a lot of the customers we talk to or I talk to in Europe, Middle East, Africa. This is one of their big hot things. I want to do this, this hybrid Cloud. I want to know what makes sense to put where, etc.. And that’s a factor of money and skills. Always. Yeah. Do I have the right skills? Can I buy the skills then? Can you help me with this. Or who would you advise. Because again, this is a partnership thing, right? When you get into this world, it’s going to be lots of different players. It’s not one person who’s gonna own the whole thing. So that’s the Cloud and the hybrid Cloud is one story. The second megatrend that is hitting us is… This is really, really interesting, okay? And this is edge… Edge computing, right? And so what we’re talking about here is being it’s actually outside the data centre, right? Having compute capability. I mean, this is an example of one, right? So but it could be as I said, it could be a fridge. It could be a sensor, right? And that information coming in, right? And then that can be processed. And then that you can decide what you want to put into the data centre or not. Okay? Now, this all sounds very clever. This is what you hear this thing called IoT, right? The Internet of Things. So all these little gadgets have chips that can do this, you know, have IP connections and they can send information back. But another area far something that we understand far better because that IoT, he sounds all very, very clever. Maybe 5 years away or so. But it isn’t. It’s actually here. But one thing that we all know and understand is things like branch offices, retail stores, okay? So now this is really interesting because the technology for those haven’t moved on a lot because they’re very expensive, because you’ve got to cover the whole country of stores. It’s not like one central data centre. So you’re very careful about when you do upgrades, etc.. Okay? Now, with this idea of age, people are thinking, hey, wait a minute, that could be the time we refresh our stores. We refresh branch offices. Because now there could be some very clever technology, like working out who’s shopping. What are the characteristics of buying behaviour, etc. okay? And so this is now very, very interesting. And you’re seeing this also matching if you look at the retail and the retail, this is really it’s very interesting, look at that. 5, 10 years ago, right? It was all about these big stores. These big out of town, car parks, you name it. And let everything in there, you know, you could buy clothes, you could duck keys, cat food, anything you can, you could sort of move leave your child when he’s a few years old and pick you up, pick him up when he’s 18, sort of story in the hope that… enough to keep himself busy and.  But now, you’re seeing a complete change here. You’re seeing stores at Waterloo Station, Heathrow Airport. Yeah, your petrol station. I mean, not just selling, you know, sort of pork pies and things, but actually a proper store, you know, selling stuff that people, you know. And that means the I.T. behind that had to change, fundamentally. And the logistics and the thinking, because when you have these big stores, you could bring your big trucks in, right? And you could have the space to warehouse, etc. That’s not the case now. You’re gonna be a very. So this is where these edge computers is not just gonna be simple things, right? These edge things are going to do very clever things. A.I. working out what should be on that shelf at a certain time in the day? So bakery stuff maybe in the morning, okay? Stuff for dinner in the evening. How do I get the right stuff in the right place? Right? And these are the sort of things. So two dynamics, I think, in the data centre. And at the end of the day, right? The buck stops at the data centre. So the two dynamics, I think, and this is what customers have to wrestle with is the edge, right? And the Cloud. And how I stitch these two things together sensibly, because a lot of the time technology companies are obsessed with the technology, right? But I’ve got to run a business. That’s my custom. And how do I use it? It’s not going to be all Cloud, is not going to be all edge. It’s gonna be a balance. And it’s gonna be a balance of some stuff whether I’ve had for a long time, okay? And the other curveball that comes in when you’re doing all this stitching together is the jurisdiction’s, etc. The legality of things. Different rules have been set for data. Where can it be? Where can- where should it be? Do the right people have access to it? Etc.. So it’s all very nice in a technology sense that I can move this to my Cloud, I can put it to the edge, etc. But legislation is saying, hang on a second. Hang on a second. We have privacy concerns, lots of concerns. So you need to be very clever. So that has to be factored in as well, okay? So it’s a long winded answer, but hopefully I’ll give you an idea, this is what I think people are wrestling with in all industries. So banks are wrestling with this with their branch offices, home banking. Yeah. As I said, retailers are wrestling with this balance of online versus all of these little mini stores all over the place, okay? And it’s everywhere, all over the place.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:17:34] Okay, so keep that in your head. Keep that ahead. We’re now in, we’re now in a slightly changed world. Well, very changed world. As of March, there’s been, this lockdown. Things, people work from home and clients demanding different things. What changes have you seen in terms of the way that the data center and your services are being requested?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:18:00] Okay. That’s an interesting, very interesting question. So and this is again. Well, when you’re in the data centre business, you’re in the infrastructure business, okay? So this is infrastructure. And so what we have seen is some things being accelerated. So some projects. So every customer usually has a few projects on the back burner, okay? And then and there have their ongoing business, okay? So some projects that may fit with this new environment, right? Have been accelerated. So suddenly people are very concerned about resilience. Okay. Very, very concerned. Very concerned about performance because now their workforce has moved into a completely different dispersed model, which they hadn’t really catered for. Maybe not expected the scale of it, okay? And so that has to be factored. So what you see is some projects rising really fast. You know, suddenly we need this yesterday. You know, we’ve done all the background work, etc. We need this yesterday. Other projects that were more esoteric, right? Or may not fit into this situation, they’ve been put on the back burner. So what we’ve seen is people are asking for advice etc. And working through, you know, what is sensible to accelerate. What is not sensible to accelerate, okay. And then when that is done, we will then move very, very quickly, right? And that that requirement. So the best sort of analogy I can give is a Darwinian analogy. Okay. That if you read the Origin of the Species here, it’s very interesting. And everybody thinks about, you know, that you have this phrase survival of the fittest. Okay. But it’s a bit of a nuanced phrase that because it wasn’t in the first book, actually first edition, it came on later. But it was it’s about fitting the environment, not being physically fit and doing all these work. It’s what fits the environment. And what we have seen is a massive change in the environment and different things will fit better. And those things will thrive and the things that don’t fit will decline, okay? Like, as it is said, you know, in a Darwinian sense, if you look at it in, you know, the time of the dinosaurs, they were the best fit. To the world what was that? And then suddenly some big thing happens and the mammals get that in a moment in the sun. What’s really important is they were mammals at the time of dinosaurs.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:20:54] Mm hmm.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:20:56] That he had re-invented, you know what I mean? So they just had- they fitted better. For whatever reason, they fitted better, right? And this is it. This is so some technologies are gonna be really interesting, some technologies that kind of maybe, you know, it’s interesting things like virtual desktop, you know, VDI tech. The business cases sometimes were very iffy. Because you’re moving storage from a low cost P.C. to a high cost data centre. Okay. But now when you’re bringing in the aspect of being able to work from home or work anywhere, right? Suddenly that business case changes. So suddenly that will rise and then suddenly your data centre will say, okay, we need to have handle VDI some way, right? That means better connectivity, better response times, etc. So it’s exciting times. It is really exciting because it’s not the same stuff over and over and over again, right? It’s looking at you to really think about this very carefully.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:22:00] I never thought I’d heard anyone describe data centers in Darwinian terms but I absolutely love it.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:22:06]  I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:22:11] No, I love it. It’s fantastic, you keep that. I wanna plagiarise that and use it as my own. So the other thing we’re talking about data centers, I believe you have a show coming up with Disruptive, could you tell us about that?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:22:26] Yes. Yes. We’re planning a show and I took Lenovo, as Lenovo we’re very lucky because I keep sharing this thing. We go from these sort of devices all the way to the data centre, right? So we have a very good view and a very good partnerships with customers and with suppliers, etc. all the way through. So we will be, I will be hosting a show about trends and technologies in the data centre and not just the technology side of things. Also the people’s side of things. Because the two real aspects that I think always gets overlooked is the people side, okay? Because we tend to sort of, it has been a world where we siloed people. You do this and this, you’re expert. We’ll that means to change very fast. And the partnership side, okay? Because as I said, as this thing has got gone from this central thing to a much wider, broader thing, more companies are involved in how we partner is really important, okay? And this is like could be the channel, its other suppliers and with the customer, it’s a different total thing. So that’s what the show is going to look at. We’re going to try to look at all of the different areas, okay? And try to see what other- you know, you can’t… as you will see with your show, you can’t sort of go into huge detail in a short period time, but it could give some pointers, right? Some areas where some people might be interested in, etc.. So that’s what our show is. That’s what the show is planned to do.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:24:07] What’s your involvement in it?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:24:09] So I will be hosting.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:24:14] Heeey!

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:24:14] I will try to…  I did this to learn how to host.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:24:18] Oh, no, no, you keep that style, I don’t want you to change any of it. That is fantastic, you’re in passion. So while my final question around this and as you mentioned, partners, how are they finding the current changes? Have they seen the changes in the way their clients are contacting them and asking for things during this current lockdown?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:24:42] Yes, definitely. Definitely. I mean, partners, I’m talking about business partners here, right? So they are in position, I feel, because they’re the closest to the customer. All right. So they are sensors, they are set in their sensory aspects of. Because they are very close to the customer. They can respond to the changes, etc.. And, yes, we are seeing they’re getting lots of demands, lots of different directions, but they’re seen as they are the trusted advisers out ultimately. And it’s that closeness to the customer that is their key. That is the key. And it’s the closeness. Because when you’re close to the customer, you can see the application. You can advise and, you know, when you’re removed and remote from it. It can give some general hints and tips, you know. But you cannot be a partner is in a really unique. And that’s why for Lenovo, we work through the partners. That is our business model. Very, very important for us.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:25:49] Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, we’re gonna cover more of that on the.. The Tikiri Show, is that what we’re calling it?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:25:57] I don’t know. That would… My ego doesn’t run into that. I don’t know. It was probably the Lenovo.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:26:05] Lenovo thing for sure.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:26:05] Exactly. Exactly. It’s a working title, let’s say.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:26:08] Yeah. Yeah, we will. Well, we can work on it. We can work in it but I love it. Okay. So Tikiri the interview itself is over. But I’m going to ask you another question. So that now is the past now, you think. So first of all, what’s on your wall behind you?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:26:26] Oh, this thing, oh, it’s a very good friend of mine. From… one of the real joys of my job is to be able to travel, right? And this is a picture from South Africa.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:26:39] Yeah.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:26:39] A very good friend of mine called Beven Lock. This is a jacaranda tree.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:26:44] Okay.

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:26:44] And what’s amazing? It’s actually a photograph.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:26:50] Is it?

TIKIRI WANDURAGALA [00:26:50] This person. It’s quite amazing. It’s very clever. This person photographs and takes away the background for some… I don’t know how they do it. Very, very clever. And Beven, whenever I go to Johannesburg, I always notice when you go to the hotel, you see these jacaranda trees, beautiful, beautiful. That’s so it’s very kind of him. One day I was as I was flying out, he gave me this as a gift and it always reminds me of Johannesburg and Beven nicely.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:27:21] That’s amazing, that’s amazing. Okay, well then, with that enthusiasm I look forward to your show. Well, The Lenovo’s Show, so alright. Okay, that was Tikiri. Joining us here on Disruptive LIVE. The time is now coming up on 12:30 on the 26th of May. You’ve been watching Andrew McLean on The Andy Show. Don’t forget to check this out on Disruptive LIVE and on our website, disruptive.live, until tomorrow. I’ll see you soon.