Joshua Hankin | Supermicro | TechWeek18

Avatar Ben Fower | 19/12/2018

Joshua Hankin form Supermicro joined us at TechWeek18 to talk about his role within the company and their plans for the future. Hosted by Will Spalding.

Will: I’m happy to be joined by Joshua Hankin now of Supermicro. How are you doing Joshua?

Joshua: Yes very well. Thanks for having me.

Will: Thanks for thanks for joining us on the show. So, Joshua, you’re a senior field application engineer, explain to me what that is?

Joshua: So predominantly that’s pre-sales technical role very much a consultative position. So, you know, when we look at what customers are trying to achieve it’s more getting involved in, as it says, application engineer. What application they’re using, what kind of deployment, finding out, you know, what the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis and really looking to find the most optimized solution for them from the very large portfolio that we have at Supermicro.

Will: So I mean, essentially your role and position at Supermicro is more of an Ops meets sales.

Joshua: Yeah, pretty much that is a snapshot of it and I may use that in the future

Will: You can have that one for free. So Joshua tell us a little bit about Supermicro what are you guys all about.

Joshua: Yes, I’ll give you the 30 second overall pitch so at Supermicro, you know, we’re one of the largest and leading manufacturers of IT infrastructure equipment servers on the market, you know, anywhere from cloud, as we are today at Cloud Expo, all the way to you know, IoT to deep learning, AI analytics, finance you name it we are there. We pride ourselves on being an engineering first company. A huge portion of our engineering is done in our headquarters in the US which is in Silicon Valley the heart of Technology.

Will: Well, I mean, it would be insane if you weren’t there.

Joshua: Yes, you know, so we are very very close to other partners of ours. So we like to bring this first to market approach and that’s due to the relationships we have with our partners and we’re able to bring the bleeding edge technology a fair few months early to our customers to allow them to be able to test and to make sure that those products are correct, and we also have, as I said before, a very very large portfolio of products and that’s again down to the optimization. So we don’t over provision or under provision any of our clients would like to hit the nail on the head that’s just to increase their efficiency on their product and get them working well.

Will: Okay, great. I mean so with Supermicro are you… It’s hard to say necessarily because I don’t know a huge amount about you guys. Are you more hardware-based would you say?

Joshua: We are very hardware-based we have in the last 25 years, which is how long we’ve been going we had our 25th anniversary this year,  been moving much more towards this solution based approach, right? So traditionally we were very much your hardware manufacturer from a motherboard perspective, a chassis perspective and now, you know, we’re providing total solutions to the customer. We don’t manufacture necessarily software ourselves outside of management for those servers. So we work with a number of leading ISVs in order to position our reference architecture based around their software and presuming that as a single appliance to the customer. Whether that’s just the server included with the storage whether that’s the full rack with all the switching and infrastructure around that as well.

Will: So just a break that down to layman’s terms an ISV for someone like me, that would be an architect then?

Joshua: So no that would be a software vendor. So anyone whether it’s storage software or computer software.

Will: So something entirely different to what I just said?

Joshua: Yes indeed. We’re a hardware manufacturer we don’t manufacture software. That’s why we work with the best and brightest. They know what they’re doing. We know what we’re doing. Put those two things together and it’s a perfect package for the customer.

Will: So do you work quite closely with solution architects then is that a thing you do?

Joshua: Yes, indeed so we OEM for a lot of people as well and so we have always built for customers. We have our off-the-shelf product, but we have traditionally also built and worked with some of the very large organizations in the world to customize whether that’s on the hardware side or the firmware side. So we’re very used to, at our design phase, when we’re looking at the next generation of products and going to these software vendors seeing what it is they’re doing and try and optimize our product to take advantage of the latest technology. So they can provide additional features within their software as well. So it’s quite a good two-way street, we learn a lot from them and design our products to fit them and because we’re first to market with our products and with new technology, they can also look to implement those kinds of things into their software as well.

Will: All right, cool. What’s next? What’s next for Supermicro?

Joshua: What is next for Supermicro? So we are always designing and developing once you’ve released one generation of product there’s another generation to come. For us right now. It’s really important as we see with the cloud infrastructure, whether it’s the big cloud providers of this world or people moving to private and public clouds. We very much start to see this move into resource saving architecture, right? So there’s a number of factors behind that one of which is, power is getting very expensive nowadays, space as well is not a commodity we as the world can produce any more of it this current stage. Our motto is ‘We Keep IT Green’. So we’re very much interested in making sure that the services we provide are economical, obviously to our customers from a cost perspective so that they can scale but also economical, you know from an environmental perspective where we’re looking after the environment. So we actually have a new set of products called our resource saving architecture. So what that’s done is its disaggregated storage and networking from the main board itself. So what you actually have is a compute board with memory and CPU on. So the new generation of processor comes out, for instance, you maybe don’t want to change the storage you’re using because you’re already at the latest generation, you’re keeping your networking. That means that actually you can take out the CPU and the memory and put in the new one.

Will: Wow, that’s a really good point. I mean keeping it green. I think it’s a very important thing nowadays obviously. It’s a bit of a no-brainer so, I just wanted to go a little bit off topic quickly and it’s more about you, to be honest. We’re trying to make it a little bit more lighthearted here for Disruptive Live. If you have to take one thing with you to a desert island would you take?

Joshua: One thing to a desert island? Is this the case that it can’t be something that’s going to help me?

Will: You know that generic cliche question that comes up when you go to a job interview, I’m doing that with you right now.

Joshua: Okay, so I’m not going to take something that’s going to help me like an unlimited supply of food. For me to be honest, you know, now in this day in age, I think it’s to be connected. If you’re on a desert island, right? I think you’re probably going to feel quite alone.

Will: Are you going to bring this back to Supermicro?

Joshua: No, I’m not. So I think I would have to bring with me. I think I could live without technology. I’m a techie, I love technology, but I think I could not live without being able to interact with other people, other beings. I think probably the native creatures of the land probably are not going to have a fascinating conversation with me. So yeah, I think some means to communicate with the outside world. So telephone or mail service.

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