SingleStore’s unified database facilitates fast-paced analytics for organisations looking to embrace diverse data and accelerate their innovations. In an earlier article, we covered how this next-gen database management company is helping businesses drive digital innovation by operationalising “all data through one platform.”
Analytics India Magazine caught up with Gaurav Dhall, the Vice President – APJ & Middle East, Managing Director – India at SingleStore to understand how SingleStore is helping organisations scale up their storage & applications.
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Gaurav currently heads SingleStore in APJ, India & Middle East and also leads the company’s business with SI partners globally.
AIM: How did big data analytics change post-pandemic? What are the significant trends you see in the domain?
Gaurav: The pandemic has taught every organisation the value of being agile, responsive and efficient despite their domain, size or sectors. It is critical to know how an organisation rolls with the punches and progresses even in the most challenging environments. Thus, the data and the value of insights from your past and monetising what you are dealing with in real-time has become a vital asset.
Some companies have succeeded exceptionally well in this pandemic, and some have suffered massively; in many cases, they have been able to reinvent themselves in a matter of months. For either set of companies, the underlying philosophy has been their sensitivity towards the data and information collected and the ability to bring data together, leverage them and monetise them. Data turned out to be a big differentiator amongst companies that have pivoted to be leaders, and that will lag behind in the post-pandemic market. We must learn how to re-engage the customer base, supply chain, employees and the ecosystem that supports us in building the business and making it successful.
AIM: How does SingleStore help organisations scale-up storage and applications flexibly & cost-effectively?
Gaurav: IT has been drunk on compute for a long time. This means, for any sort of problem, it has always been suggested to buy more compute power, and over time, these organisations have pivoted towards cheaper units but still continue to buy more compute power. But, we recognise this storage problem that constrained organisations to monetise their data assets. And, this is where SingleStore comes into the picture. We democratise storage for organisations across any storage platform, whether it’s your own or a data centre that you share with other companies or any kind of cloud or a mix of clouds.
So across any dimension of data storage, SingleStore can help organisations store data seamlessly in the same architecture and infrastructure, making it easy for developers and business professionals to leverage data assets. Understanding this need very early on, we have come up with this unique and compelling concept of universal storage.
AIM: CEO Raj Verma, in an interview, spoke about how he wants to make SingleStore a ‘verb’. How is the company planning to achieve this goal?
Gaurav: To be honest, my 13-year-old daughter doesn’t like the name SingleStore. She believes the word “SingleStore” doesn’t reflect the complexity of the work we do. She is indeed entitled to her opinion. I, on the other hand, believe that it’s the best name we could have come up with.
When we were formerly known as MemSQL, a complex name that focused on in-memory data, represented a small part of what we do. While we were selecting the name, we ran contests throughout the company, where people proposed a bunch of names. Finally, after a lot of research and discussion with analysts, we picked the name SingleStore that truly represents what we do.
In the near future, we believe businesses would not need to decide whether to store their streaming data on row store or historical data on column store; all they have to do is to store it once or to “SingleStore” it. Therefore, we are convinced that universal storage is the answer to all the problems most enterprises have been facing in the past. SingleStore stands for universal storage, and rightfully said, like Xerox or Google, SingleStore also has the potential to become a verb.
AIM: Are companies actually shifting their on-premises production database deployments to the cloud? What’s your advice for organisations moving to the cloud?
Gaurav: Many are!
We’ve heard from our partners as well as our customers that they are moving a lot, but not all, of their data to the cloud. Technically, the volume of data that exists in the enterprise right now is immense, and therefore, even if a small percentage of that is moving to the cloud, then it’s still a very large business problem to solve and a significant opportunity for companies like ours.
It’s definitely a massive effort to move the entire enterprise to the cloud, and that’s why we advise our customers to be selective about their data being moved to the cloud. For example, if certain data doesn’t contribute to the real-time experience, businesses don’t need to move them to the cloud. Instead, let that data reside where it is, and just SingleStore it, where one can combine the power of real-time streaming analytics with historic information to do the job a little bit less painfully and more efficiently.
AIM: With companies leveraging Snowflake and other data warehouses, how is SingleStore revolutionising the space?
Gaurav: There are many different ways we believe SingleStore has revolutionised the entire data storage space.
Firstly, data warehouse providers today can only manage small batches of real-time data. This is because they seriously lack the ability to address large volumes of information coming via the internet in real-time. As a result, it either becomes extremely expensive for the providers or the infrastructure needed to facilitate that is completely out of line to address this fast-paced data. So typically, these providers only address the massive volumes of historic data that are not produced in real-time. And that’s how most of these data warehouse providers deal with every data.
This brings us to the concept of Cloud Data Warehouses, a fantastic storage approach, as long as one knows exactly how much data they will put in and how much storage one will consume. The real problem arises when the data starts to gain weight.
Secondly, businesses heavily struggle with the issue of latency. For example, during a fraudulent activity, the company needs to act in a millisecond to avoid any issue at the customers’ end. This entire process of responding to fraudulent activity happens in the background making the transaction process easier for consumers. And that’s where latency plays a big role. However, many Cloud Data Warehouses have not dealt with the issue of latency, volume of data and concurrency in the way that SingleStore has.
Thirdly, cloud data warehouses work perfectly when all the data is in one place, i.e. cloud. However, if businesses are trying to monetise their data assets residing on-premise and on the cloud, the need of combining historic data with real-time data is felt.
The majority of companies fail to address these issues and lack the ability to go cross-platform and multiple-dimension. SingleStore, which stands for universal storage, is the answer to these queries, and that’s what makes us unique. SingleStore has also recently been awarded a patent for universal storage.
“Businesses need to be selective about their data being moved to the cloud. For example, if certain data doesn’t contribute to the real-time experience, businesses don’t need to move them to the cloud. Instead, let that data reside where it is right now, just SingleStore it, to do the job a little bit less painfully & more efficiently,” — Gaurav Dhall.
AIM: SingleStore has recently secured $80 million funding in Series E. How do you plan to use the fresh capital?
Gaurav: So far, we have secured a total funding of about $150 million. Our plan is to continue developing three different aspects of the company:
1) We have to develop products, take them to the next level. We have a vision, and we need to act upon it. To facilitate this, we have amped up our engineering efforts.
2) Most companies have a strong marketing message that overshines the reality of what the actual technology can do. We have the opposite problem, in that we can do so much more than most people know. So we have been investing money to let the world know exactly who we are, what capabilities we have, the value we bring, and how we have worked with the analyst communities and collaborated with our partners and customers. We have too much value to offer to be quiet about it, so we are putting effort and resources into making the SingleStore brand more well-known across industries.
3) SingleStore also sets some capital aside to be used as needed as we continue innovating and growing. I believe it’s always good to keep some money in our pocket and be ready to quickly fast forward if required.
AIM: SingleStore is currently the only hybrid multi-cloud, unified analytical & transactional database in the market. Could you tell us how this new category will define the future of data platforms?
Gaurav: We are incredibly excited about this new offering, and we believe that we are doing something groundbreaking. We believe that we have an opportunity to make an impact in the world in a way that has not been done before in this line of business.
To set the context, for every business application, a SaaS platform in the cloud is available that does what was earlier being done by Oracle’s PeopleSoft. Post that, the infrastructure got transformed, where people either moved their data centres to the cloud or created new applications on the cloud. However, the data layer in the middle, which is the most important glue between the two, was still not transformed. And, this is where we play a huge part. Whether a company is moving to the cloud, trying to operate in real-time, or monetising its assets, SingleStore plays a strong and meaningful role in creating that seamless journey for them. SingleStore is currently the only database in the industry that addresses both analytical and transactional workloads for the multi-cloud world.
AIM: Can you share some exciting use cases on how enterprises are leveraging SingleStore?
Gaurav: Case studies are always the fun part! Let me give you two or three examples.
A very large telecom company in Thailand has created a seamless contact tracing system that alerts them in real-time. To facilitate this, they have combined information about people, their geospatial density, historic footfall and patterns, and were able to pinpoint COVID-affected neighbourhoods in real-time, with less than one minute of accuracy.
In another use case, a very large Middle Eastern telecom company created a similar contact tracing system using 17 different databases, which were extremely difficult for their IT teams to manage. With the power of SingleStore, they have now replaced those databases.
Additionally, SingleStore helped an Indian global oil company listed in the Fortune 100 with dashboard management. It created a system to receive and access data in real-time on various operational aspects. SingleStore sits between these dashboards running on Tableau and has brought down the six-hours outdated dashboard to a sub-second response time.
Lastly, a very large retail company with 40 or 50 dashboards struggled to get real-time insights into their operation queries. However, with SingleStore, the company now works on a sub-second response time based on real-time data.
AIM: SingleStore has recently witnessed some high-profile appointments like Oliver Schabenberger as the CINO, Paul Forte as the CRO and Suresh Sathyamurthy as the SVP of Marketing & Growth. How are these new hires strengthening the company’s position in the market?
Gaurav: I believe SingleStore attracted these high profile individuals because of the innovative technology that we are working on and the buzz created in the industry. In addition, the sheer power of our technology and the roadmap we are working on has encouraged these individuals to join the team.
Oliver was one of the key people at SAS, the company that really helped all of us understand what analytics is all about. So, having someone as senior as him falling in love with SingleStore is a big achievement. Similarly, Suresh, who has previously been associated with organisations like Dell EMC, Palo Alto etc., has been very excited to be a part of our journey. The people that we have employed, the culture of how we built the company, and our vision are the key reasons for these distinguished people joining.
SingleStore strongly believes in getting like-minded people on board, and by hiring these people, we are trying to make sure we’re able to get specialists in each of these areas to make a difference in their respective portfolios, and at the same time, they represent one common thread. So this has been the underlying philosophy of how we’ve chosen these hires and how these hires have chosen us.
AIM: Tell us about SingleStore Launch Pad.
Gaurav: The objective behind the SingleStore Launch Pad, the Innovation Centre, is to bring in like-minded folks who are passionate to innovate new technologies that can help our end customers. It’s a centre where innovators and developers can come together, brainstorm, develop new technologies, try and test their innovations, go live, and then bring them out to the market. SingleStore Launch Pad has been designed to help our customers and partners achieve more with data and analytics.
Considering we have a large developers community in India, this programme has been exclusively built to tap that potential. Additionally, we are also effectively launching this programme virtually in the next few quarters for the entire developers’ ecosystem in India that plays a huge role in taking the technology out to the global customers. This programme complements our engineering facilities around the world and is an extension of our strategy to be the platform that powers modern, intelligent, and data-intensive applications.
AIM: SingleStore has recently collaborated with several businesses via its Partner Program. Tell us a bit about the partnerships that SingleStore currently has and how these partners play a vital role in the company’s innovations?
Gaurav: SingleStore is a partner-first company in parts of the world like the Middle East, India, Asia Pacific, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Korea etc. These countries are very distinct and independent markets, where local culture and local relationships matter a lot to customers.
We have a three-pronged strategy here for our partnerships:
The first category of partners is the global system integrators like Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Accenture, Capgemini etc., who have built practices, strategies and teams of technologists, practitioners, architects, and business analysts, who go to customers and help them solve business problems and technology challenges using SingleStore.
The second category of partners is the hyperscalers, the cloud providers that carry SingleStore as a part of their portfolio. We have certified, tested, integrated into their ecosystem, and go hand in hand with them for the entire sales process, the customer discovery process and implementation.
The third category of partners is our value-added resellers and local partners. Some of these are less important in the western market; however, for markets in India, Middle East, Japan, and other APAC regions, value-added resellers and local partners play a big role. To facilitate this, we have partnered with companies like Bahwan CyberTek (BCT) — a dominant player in the Middle East and has large teams in India and Singapore.
Although we partner with large global system integrators in India, we also work with a lot of local partners and VARs to make the most of this unique market. On the other hand, in Australia and New Zealand, we work with the distributor Nextgen — a dominant reseller and a distributor for software products.
AIM: What’s the work culture of SingleStore like?
Gaurav: We have a very strong philosophy where we believe that culture trumps strategy. An organisation or a business can have the best strategy, but it will be difficult to succeed if the organisation doesn’t have like-minded people. Also, some people might be skilled in certain areas and lack others, but with the right attitude, they can pick up what they are lacking. So, SingleStore onboards like-minded, positive, enthusiastic people who are aligned with the organisation’s vision.
We have an extremely open working culture where we want people to have their creative ability and the ability to generate new ideas. And we aim to build a culture where everybody is working for a mission, to create tremendous value for our customers, our employees and our shareholders.
While hiring, we don’t expect everybody to be perfect or extremely skilled; rather, we expect them to be enthusiastic about understanding the company, the technology and other aspects of the business. As a result, SingleStore has many mentoring programmes within the company and formal training sessions, not only for our sales team and employees but also for our partners. In addition, we have virtual classroom training programmes where one can sign up via their organisation or as individuals and take advantage of self-paced modules to get trained.
AIM: What’s next for SingleStore?
Gaurav: The data landscape is a $100 billion opportunity, and it’s not a winner takes all market. Therefore one doesn’t have to be a dominant player to succeed in this field. SingleStore, with its current innovation and offers, can be considered one of the top five players in this field. And very soon, we are aiming to be one of the prominent players in the space of universal storage.
Our new patent gives us immense confidence, and we strongly believe that for a large portion of the customer base, we will be able to solve 95% of the data problems. So our vision is to position SingleStore among the top tier companies that succeed by doing something unique.