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Solving the Data Deluge Gap
Jeff Richardson
Executive Vice President & COO-LSI
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Jeff Richardson is the Executive Vice President and COO of LSI. LSI Corporation (NYSE:LSI) designs semiconductors and software that accelerate storage and networking in datacenters, mobile networks and client computing. In his current role, Richardson is responsible for marketing, engineering and manufacturing of the company’s product operations. He joined the company in 2005 from Intel where he served as VP of the Digital Enterprise Group and GM of the Server Platform Group. He is the member of the board of directors of Volterra Semiconductor Corporation and holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado.

LSI Corporation went through a significant amount of changes in last seven years, and recognized the need to reposition itself to grow and create a leadership identity within the industry. The company witnessed a massive explosion of data created within the world which was going to continue in the coming decades within the industry. Hence, to address this data explosion globally, LSI started repositioning itself around developing technology with products that essentially meant to meet this requirement. Today LSI is primarily focused on storage and networking technology where they concentrate on the infrastructure rather than consumer segment. In the past few years, we recognized that there is a significant gap in the industry between the growth and explosion of data and the underlying infrastructure that is in place today or the rate of infrastructure advancement over the next couple of years. The industry is witnessing a 40-60 percent growth, but the required infrastructure is not in place whether it is wireless or networking infrastructure making it costlier. Such a situation is named ‘Data Deluge Gap’. In conversation with Jeff Richardson, he opens up on ‘Data Deluge Gap’ and LSI’s approach in solving this issue.

LSI’s approach

Few months back, the industry was moving fast towards 3G, but now they are migrating faster towards 4G and the primary goal of this is to help to deal with this data deluge. The product that the company develops in this space is actually communication processors that are targeted towards these changes. Today you probably see a trend in the industry wherein lot of PCs started using flash based hard disk drives instead of standard locating media hard disk drive. Jeff says, “We have created a processor that can manage how data is written and read after the flash provides it and can do certain things that enables the hard disk drive to be able to perform at a higher level of maintaining the consistency of the data on the drive. It is another form of processor; we understand flash technology and developed certain technology in acceleration blocks that actually do a lot of magic associated with managing flash within the drive.”

Hottest trends to follow

The heart of the storage industry is the rapid adoption of flash technology into new segments like server for enterprise tech products, as well as PCs and Ultra Books that are now using flash based technology as their primary storage.

We see a huge rapid base of adoption of flash based technology out of companies that are deploying IT as a part of their data service as they can perform much faster than the disk drive that actually pays off in terms of overall performance. We are working with several flash vendors to help them build disks that can be used both in server and client web applications, also in developing flash based technology engaging with leading server vendors within the world. We are going to directly work with several big hyper scale data center companies that are focused on social networking or ecommerce, so that they can also get benefited from using flash technology in their data centers and being able to store data and provide it to users at a much quicker pace than the hard disk drive.

Goals for the CIOs Today

When the economy had a significant downturn in 2008, more CIOs were forced to go back and leverage technology to give more innovation out of their fixed pool server or IT capacity. Technology became very mainstream during that time frame.

Now, you can find CIOs focused on how they go drive better innovation of variety infrastructure. And at the same time how do they make sure they have the ability to support the main functions from the business perspective as they vary all time. They try to take added advantage with the way they develop their infrastructure to solve more business problems.

Lot of CIOs and traditional enterprises have started to look very closely at what some of the big hyper scale data centers have put into place around their skills and architectures. Also, the CIOs are working at leveraging the cloud and basically instead of investing in their entire personal infrastructure, they have started leveraging third party in the cloud to leverage the larger pool of customers and making investment in terms of different applications through email or others, and paying others to manage that instead of themselves.

U.S. vs. India: The Different Mindset

India has gone through a significant amount of transformation just over last few years by actually migrating to using IT infrastructure and getting things once done manually into IT infrastructure, more inclined towards government. Where the U.S. and other countries might have taken their time to reach this place, India is all fast forward in leveraging the learning from other countries and take advantage from these technologies.

The tremendous push to India towards e-governance or transmitting sectors is driving a lot of IT and IT infrastructure growth rather than the trends you see across the country with the penetration for more and more transactions and information sharing.

Role of LSI India

We started in 2004 in India and we took a very different approach. Since day one we were focused on building a team that is going to help us grow, where a lot of other companies during those days were actually focusing more on support for developing software and help them develop core products for the company. We have over 1200 people who are essentially involved in developing products across the entire LSI portfolio products. Today, India is the largest side of the company and represents roughly 25 percent of our total employees and 98 percent of the work force in India is focused in R&D. We are also focused on building our technical capabilities and in India; we are focused to do end-to-end development of products from concepts all the way to the end products.

My Learning’s

I joined the company in the year 2005 along with the new CEO and was promoted to COO last year. Since my joining, we have been basically working to reposition our company to focus on this notion of the data deluge and support and drive products that can solve problems associated with explosion and storing the data throughout the world. As a result, we made nine acquisitions to support it and the latest entrant being StandForce.

My past experiences have helped me to balance on the leadership team between strategy and execution. We have made sure that we have very competitive strategy for 3-4 years that we have been trying to achieve in the company and at the same time, the leadership team makes sure that you have a very good job in terms of executing the correct product according to the strategy. We ensure to get the right portfolio to achieve what we want to through product execution.

Vision Ahead

The vision is to be predominant semiconductor provider in the markets we serve, both on networking and enterprise storage side. Our goal is to go deep in those two markets and drive growth to the company through making software products that customers can use in their products versus few products for the market.

(As told to Anamika Sahu)
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