OVH’s director of cloud Hiren Parekh talks about the challenges of large-scale data processing, why he likes to keep different technologies in the mix and how the BBC Micro helped launch his career
What is your role and who do you work for?
I am the director of cloud and hosting worldwide at OVH, working across the mid-market. I also lead the UK market.
How long have you been in IT?
I have been in IT for as long as I can remember! Computer games sparked my initial interest, before I got my hands on a BBC computer, then I found myself on a pathway to studying IT at both college and at university. Since then I have predominantly worked for IT companies. I worked for a Software-as-a Service (SaaS) company, another hosting company and then OVH, so IT at the very core of my professional career and my (younger) personal life.
What is your most interesting project to date?
The most interesting project I have been involved in was here at OVH, when we worked with a company that processes and references very large volumes of data. The challenge the business had when they came to OVH was the fact they were working with 72 terabytes of data, which took them on average 28 days to process. Their goal was to process this a little more quickly and produce a report for their end customer.
Working with my team I created a customised solution for them that improved processor capacity by using the OVH vRack, a virtual rack that allows multiple servers to be grouped. The customer was able to process the same report in just seven days, saving a significant amount of time for the business. The project was particularly interesting because it was a prime example of how OVH can help businesses optimise and achieve better results.
What technology were you working with ten years ago?
Ten years ago, I was predominantly in the SaaS industry, applying graphics suite software, and at the time it would have been Windows XP. How things have changed! Back then, YouTube was relatively new to me and today, we have the likes of Instagram and Snapchat that are taking the concept of social engagement videos to a whole other level, creating communities within communities.
What is your favourite technology of all time?
That’s a difficult one to answer because there is so much tech that I like. In more recent times I have become fascinated with the evolution of drone technology. I love how Amazon has tested drones for deliveries, and the value they could bring in providing aid to remote locations. I really believe the potential of drones has not yet been fully discovered, and I think there are so many more positive outcomes and use cases we are going to see.
What smartphone do you use?
I was an early adopter of the iPhone, but after several evolutions I switched to Android and now I use both. I like to keep my hands on different technologies and in the same way I have an Apple computer for work and a Windows for personal use.
I have no real preference, but I like the different capabilities of each. I also like the variety and it helps me to keep up with evolving technology, which is important for my job.
What three apps could you not live without?
First and foremost is Microsoft Outlook, because in our industry there is always a lot going on and its vital to keep on top of things. WhatsApp would be another one for me, it’s a great way of keeping in touch with groups of people and I’ve found that lifechanging, it makes it very easy for me to keep in touch with friends and family in other parts of the world like India and Canada.
The LinkedIn app is my third must-have. I find it is a very streamlined way to keep tabs on industry movements and leadership topics, as well as providing a vast amount of quality information.
What new technology are you most excited for a) your business and b) yourself?
The technology I am most excited about at OVH is our Hosted Private Cloud, it is a software-defined data centre powered by our partner, VMware. At the core of this are the new capabilities delivered by Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX), a VMware product that helps companies dynamically move workloads from one cloud to another.
What this allows companies to do is to have a hot migration or ‘always on’ service between an OVH datacentre, multiple OVH datacentres and businesses’ on-premise storage to achieve real-time replication. It’s more efficient and reliable.
Personally, I am most excited by the crypto and blockchain environment. I find myself drawn to reading articles on this topic because there are clearly multiple uses for these technologies, particularly for blockchain.
I believe it will bring a great deal of freedom to organisations from a wide range of industries in many different ways. The possibilities are endless. Blockchain could even revolutionise the way people vote, especially in terms of attracting younger people to participate.
If you weren’t doing the job you do now, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t doing the job I am doing now I would love to see myself just globetrotting, travelling the world to see different cultures and the ways people live. To be in the foothills of the Himalayas one month, to the sights and sounds of New York City the next – that would be the life!