Western Digital's investment in Indian markets at Rs 1,400 crore a year

Siva Sivaram, Executive vice-president of silicon technology and manufacturing, Western Digital
US-based data storage company Western Digital said its acquisition of SanDisk in 2015 had helped it build a significant presence in India, where it now invests close to $200 million (nearly Rs 1,400 crore) every year. Western Digital makes data technology products, including storage devices, data centre systems and cloud storage services, being one of the largest in the segment. 

It bought storage company SanDisk for $19 billion and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) for $4.3 billion in 2011. While the SanDisk name is a known one in retail and flash memory-based applications, HGST is a trusted one in data centres for large original equipment manufacturers. 

“In the past four years from 2015, we have grown from 250 people to 2,500 people here (in India) We do not hire anything under a Master’s and PhD. You go to any large institution in India, we hire from there,” said Siva Sivaram, executive vice-president.

The Indian arm, he added, was made an independent entity that created intellectual property, products, marketed products and supported end-users, unlike an offshore centre.

The total addressable market for enterprise storage in India, according to research firm IDC is $480 million. According to CyberMedia Research, the client solutions storage or external storage devices space is $360 million a year in this country. 

According to Sivaram, surveillance, smart cities, defence and communications are the big areas here where Western Digital sees scope for growth. 

Given India's focus on data localisation or keeping Indian data in servers located in the country, would this translate to more business for Western Digital? “It would increase our sales in India,” Sivaram said. 

Adding: “In the data localisation space, we are experts but are a neutral body. The governments we work very closely with include Brazil, Russia, China, the US, with the EU (European Union) and India. We closely monitor what they do, how they do — they talk to us openly as a trusted and neutral third-party, interested but not a biased party. From the government side, we can see why or what places it makes sense. Similarly, from a purely technical side, data is useful only when it flows. Stagnant data is of little use to anybody.”  

The company also works with start-ups in India under its Innovation Bazaar programme. Which is aligned with the government’s ‘Startup India’ scheme. The idea is to provide a platform for start-ups to help address issues of national importance, by leveraging the power of data. 

In choosing these, it received expressions of interest from over 600 companies, screened down to 200 and then winnowed to 40. Working on wide-ranging ideas, from agriculture to health care, and child rearing to automotives. 

“So, we ran a little thing over here and then we picked the last 10 and we put them to a boot camp. We are teaching them how to make a company or firm and networking them with all the venture capitalists. Then, we are showing them how to protect their intellectual property and making sure they got legal help, and our own venture fund is looking at this as another opportunity. Western Digital Venture Fund has invested close to a quarter of a billion dollars in the last four or five years globally. We are bringing that group here and talking to companies,” Sivaram added.

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