Interviews, Tech

The Persistent Importance of Data Storage with Expert Rohit Gupta

Since the advent of the internet and the resulting boom in worldwide usage of online technologies, there has been a veritable flood of information coming from users. This data has come to be seen as a kind of figurative iceberg in the tech industry. In terms of its usefulness, many of its immediate applications are obvious. It can be used to inform how a site communicates with a specific user or accessed as a means of improving the user experience.

But beyond these common sense applications, the universe of big data is wild and untamed. It’s one of the most exciting frontiers of the tech industry in the 21st century. Data mining, collection, and categorization can potentially be fed into some of the other most compelling technological advances of our time, such as machine learning and A.I., to name a few. Our collective data can be used to make the technology of the future smarter. The only remaining question is how exactly we can execute that vision, what it’s going to take to turn all this raw data into something useful.

We decided to dig deeper into what data storage looks like today, and to give an interesting look into the cutting edge of data technologies.

Fortunately, there are many talented professionals and strategic thinkers who have dedicated their careers to tackling this significant and intimidating niche. We had the chance to speak with one of these experts: Rohit Gupta, senior manager at Western Digital.

Rohit doesn’t limit his talents to just one area. He has become a professional powerhouse with regards to data storage, holding credits with some of the biggest companies in the field. He’s also filed multiple research papers and inventions, even going back to his days in university. He will serve as our guide to the importance and flexibility of data in the internet age.

“Today, we live in an environment where content creation and consumption is at its highest level in the entire history of mankind. Individuals and organizations are mining data to help make better decisions. Governments across the world are either using or generating data to better serve citizens. Data storage solutions are one of the basic building blocks of smart systems, from microwaves to smartphones to satellites.”

Just 15 years ago, those devices looked very different indeed. USB flash drives and the subsequent SD cards (in their many incarnations, all the way down to the inconveniently tiny Micro SD) seemed to predict a future of smaller and smaller forms of data storage, but we have since seen it transform into a brand new format: cloud storage, which uses offsite servers that users never even have to see to access.

“Recent developments in software-defined infrastructure technologies are triggering new storage architectures, allowing higher utilization and sharing of the hardware resources via the cloud. This has led to new industries and growth in different parts of the world, which is also contributing to many aspects of development in those areas.”

This has proved to be true time and time again, that emerging technologies can actually aid in the development of an entire economy, perhaps most especially in developing nations. And this is just one example of why it is crucial that experts around the world share their expertise. That way, the international community can contribute to the evolution of any given aspect of technology, and in the end, progress is sent into lightspeed thanks to an atmosphere of collaboration, rather than competition.

And in that vein, we asked Rohit about additional contemporary tech trends that are seeing contributions from the entire industry, not just from one of the three largest companies.

“I observe three current major technology trends in businesses large and small. A: machine learning and artificial intelligence using data to infer critical information. B: software-defined infrastructure being used to maximize efficiency, utilization, agility, and the availability of resources in an on-premise, public/private cloud data centers, and C: companies transitioning to the cloud for computing, memory, and storage requirements, and thus reducing enterprise capital expenditures and enabling many policy-driven mobility choices. It is interesting to note that all three of them have a direct dependence on data and therefore storage devices.”

And despite the foundational importance of data storage, these complementary areas of study tend to attract much more attention from the general public, and thus the press rarely reports on storage and big data versus, for example, the dangerous and simultaneously inspiring potential of A.I. But in reality, data storage and management offer just as many opportunities for people looking to enter the tech sector as A.I. or any other emerging technology, if not more.

Understanding how to collect and analyze data enables a limitless number of other pursuits, similar to how learning French enables a whole new dimension of experience while traveling in a French-speaking country. Our machines speak the language of data, and so it would be in our best interest to learn to speak that language fluently, as well as how to ultimately translate it back into English.

All of this can seem daunting for young people set on a career in the wonderful world of tech. But Rohit assured us that success in this field comes down to a few basic principles that can be helpful to just about anyone, not just techies.

“My advice is to develop a vision and strategic framework for your career, what you want to do, what value you can create, and what unique perspective or skills you can bring to the table. Try to not just chase titles. Instead, focus on value creation and learning new skills. Do experiments, quickly learn from failures, and be open to taking risks.”

So this is where our journey into big data ends, for now. If you’ve found this cursory overview helpful or interesting, reach out and let us know. If you’re curious about starting your own career in data-driven industry or would just like to learn more, we recommend visiting Rohit Gupta’s blogs on Western Digital’s site, in which he shares a valuable perspective on contemporary trends. We’ve also enjoyed reading through Forbes’s guide to big data, especially useful for anyone without a programming or computer sciences background.

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I'm a long time fan of tech innovation, especially its capacity to cross over into the realms of art and social justice. The paradigms are constantly changing, and we need to change with them.

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