Jérôme Bélan, EMEA CEO of PNY Technologies

PCR’s March Life in the Channel With PNY Technologies’ Jérôme Bélan

PNY Technologies, a European provider of solutions for Artificial Intelligence, HPC, data Centre and professional visualisation markets, recently signed a distribution agreement with NVIDIA for its entire range of InfiniBand and Ethernet networking switches, adapter cards/NICs and cables for resellers in EMEA. Here Michelle Winny, editor of PCR speaks with EMEA CEO of PNY Technologies, Jérôme Bélan about this latest development.

PNY Technologies was founded in 1985 in the United States, with a European head office in France. The company celebrated over 35 years of success as a provider of electronic solutions for several high growth markets. It has premium products that extend into the realms of Professional Visualisation. For over twenty years, PNY has nurtured a productive working partnership with NVIDIA and supplies the latest GPU technologies used in the gaming market, as well as the professional sector with applications in the medical, aeronautical, automotive, and other fields. Providing engineers, researchers and visualisation with cutting-edge NVIDIA Professional Visualisation, NVIDIA TESLA and NVIDIA DGX solutions, PNY understands the needs of its customers.

What is your professional background within the channel?
I have been in the channel business for longer than I can even remember… I started my career as Head of France B-to-B channel for NEC, then EPSON and finally continued my growth with PNY, back in 1994, we set up the European headquarters in France, in Mérignac near Bordeaux. From there, PNY Technologies Europe was steering the commercial future of this player in memory cards, USB sticks and graphics solutions throughout the entire continent.

We started out as suppliers of memory modules to major manufacturers, such as Packard Bell. Then we became sellers of memory modules via the mass market. With our memory extension kits accompanied by instructional videotapes, we flooded the consumer market. We were in all the major European stores, such as Dixons in the UK, or Fnac, Carrefour… in France. But we were above all 80% dependent on the B-to-B market, on the large computer manufacturers.

We have always listened to our buyers and their customers; this is our major asset that portrays our company DNA. We have to constantly improve our products, their designs and their capabilities in order to keep as strong as we are today.

I understand that PNY Technologies has recently signed a distribution agreement with NVIDIA. Please could you tell us more about this and the benefits it brings?
The NVIDIA partnership brings a varied product portfolio for the professional area, where we can offer the customer a complete range for their plans and projects (Compute, Storage, Networking). A full reference of design solutions, whether that is professional graphics cards for high-performance workstations, or complex server systems including storage and network, we are always able to respond to the needs of our customers. The joint venture portrays expertise in the AI ecosystem, which is a grand advantage at present. Ultimately, our goal is to extend this expertise to all other markets using HPC networking based IB technology and more traditional with Ethernet.

What are the current tech trends, issues and needs within the channel
One of the current challenges within the channel is the availability of the products, due to the worldwide shortage on many electronic components. We need to adapt and plan some important stock orders. Especially in the Networking business, where the portfolio is large, and the customer needs are varied. The business win comes to the companies that are responsive, and that are able to always work on the constant innovation of the world today.

Where would you say solutions providers should be focusing their attentions as potential growth markets?
In our opinion, solutions providers should focus their interest and time on various markets such as Natural Language Processing, Bio Technologies, and FinTech. As we all know, especially after recent years, AI Technology is the future of business.

How has the explosion in data affected the channel and the products and services it provides to partners?
The explosion in data has made a great impact on the channel; the Edge computing and IOT, has highlighted a new trend in the data centre industry. Undeniably, it has enhanced the need to use local data centres and therefore, local partners providing high value services have become a key element.

What are the benefits of offering NVIDIA Networking?
NVIDIA Networking solutions address the exponentially increasing demands for greater computing power efficiency, manageability and scalability required for the HPC, Web 2.0, ML, data analytics and storage markets. PNY Technologies offers a complete end-to-end solution that supports InfiniBand and Ethernet networking technologies. The end-to-end, GPU-accelerated, InfiniBand and Ethernet-enabled networking solutions allow enterprises to implement a network infrastructure that can support complete implementations from development to deployment with all modern workloads and diverse storage requirements, paving the way for the new era of accelerated computing to maximize your return on investment in AI. We are able to provide the channel with a focused solution distributor, that is able to provide a unified offering on all of NVIDIA’s data centre products, and supported by our specialist solutions architect and field application engineers across Europe. PNY are well placed in the channel to provide the full range of NVIDIA Enterprise GPUs, NVIDIA DGX servers, NVIDIA’s full supporting software stack (virtual compute server, HPC compilers and AI enterprise) the ultra-high speed Infiniband and Ethernet networking fabric combined with the very latest NVIDIA Bluefield-2 Data Processing Units (DPU).

How do you plan to drive business forward in 2022?
In recent years the market has evolved immensely and in 2022, we are seeing growth in InfiniBand networking through the sales of NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD, which represents the enterprise data-centre. However, on the Ethernet market, we are planning to push our solutions through more promising markets such as Media & Entertainment, Finance and Fraud Detection.

What are the current issues affecting data centres and how can this be addressed?
Over the years, we have seen a shift from traditional CPU based servers and processing, to the rapid adoption and expansion of GPUs accelerated workflow in the DC, with the GPU now becoming one of the primary processors in modern data centre environments. As the demand for GPUs increases, the speed and volume of the data being transferred and process within the data centre is growing all the time. Indeed, the computational needs of AI researchers continue to increase as the complexity of Deep Learning (DL) networks and training data grows exponentially. Designing and implementing a large-scale computing infrastructure for AI requires understanding of the computational goals of these researchers in order to build fast, efficient, and cost-effective systems. To build a flexible system that can run a multitude of Deep Learning applications in a scalable manner, organisations need a well-rounded system that includes, at a minimum scalable and powerful node with multiple GPUs, large memory, and fast connections, a high-bandwidth, low-latency HDR InfiniBand (IB) interconnect designed with the capacity and topology to minimise bottlenecks, and a storage server capable of providing maximum performance for the various data structures. The data centre infrastructure network must also keep pace with the demand for ever higher and higher throughput of data enabling hybrid digital infrastructures, Big Data, AI workflows and the wider adoption of virtual work environments.

Eventually, we will encounter fundamental challenges in 2022 due to the supply constraints on GPUs. This is down to the global shortages on processors and various other subcomponents, which might lead to slower deployments of broad data centre clusters. Lastly, on a bigger scale, not specifically related to ourselves and NVIDIA based solutions, there is a greater challenge around data security generally within the wider data centre business.

What trends do you think we will see more of in 2022 within the channel?
We expect to see higher networking bandwidths, with wider adoption of 400GbE, a larger integration of the DPU into the data centre ecosystem. We expect to see the greater use of mainstream virtual working environments replacing traditional office work spaces and the rise of the Cloud Service Providers (CSP), and an increase demand for Cloud gaming, which in turn will drive enterprise support of the DC. This will provide the backbone hardware and infrastructure capable of hosting these platforms. Moreover, the continued expansion of Bigdata and analytics for corporate and enterprise markets, coupled with the rise and maturing of AI in more sectors.

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