Security And Data Retention Are No Longer A Concern While Leveraging Cloud
Narinder Kumar, EVP, Technology Services, TO THE NEW, in an exclusive interaction with Sarabjeet Kaur, delved on the present Indian scenario of Cloud Computing and how it is providing new paradigms for SMEs and MSMEs.
BW CIO: What does the future hold for Cloud Computing in India?
Narinder: There are a lot of organizations which have compliance needs and strict regulations about data not going out of the geographical boundaries of the country, such as financial institutions, banks, and the government. But now, since Google launched its first cloud data centre in India in late 2017, there are data centres in India from all the three big players- GoogleCloud, AWS, and Microsoft Azure. The Indian organizations, as well as the Government, have more choices about where they want to host their critical applications in terms of latency.
With competition, it is interesting for the customers and I believe it is a good time to really think strategically about Cloud. In past years, people were in the experimentation stage. A lot of organizations which we work or interact with, now see Cloud as a real thing and they are ready to not just think about experimentation and proof of concept but also as a lever to build agility into their ecosystems.
BW CIO: Is cloud adoption primarily a concept for the large enterprises only or SMEs as well?
Narinder: In my opinion, cloud adoption is seen across the board. Cloud is an option for each and every domain and every organization size. For example, a small start-up is always running short of funds. Cloud allows low capex and straight away lets it be able to get something going. On the other end of the spectrum, in a large organization, you kind of over-invest in infrastructure and that is again where cloud helps you to optimize it on a continuous basis and have low opex cost. But because large organizations can invest in potentially disruptive initiatives, they again can leverage the agility of cloud. Earlier, there were doubts about security and data retention of the cloud. But with all the players becoming mature and with the help of competition, those things are no longer a concern and we can leverage the best offerings to build secure flexible solutions of any type on the cloud.
BW CIO: Are the Indian SMEs really aware of the value of Cloud Computing? How are you helping enterprises adopt cloud platform efficiently?
Narinder: It requires a little bit of education, consultation, and hand-holding but I would suggest that medium and large size organizations are getting more and more aware. Now they do not question –‘Why cloud?’ They rather ask –‘Where and how?’ The question has evolved into how we can help them get onto the cloud with right kind of structures. The way the applications and infrastructure used to be designed in an in-house data center, or even in third-party data centers need to be designed differently to get the real value out of Cloud.
As we work with a lot of clients within India, outside India, we have been using cloud internally as well as for building applications for customers. Leveraging our years of expertize, we have built our own proprietary cloud management platform – My Cloud, in order to help organizations on those areas.
BW CIO: Can you introduce us to MyCloud and explain its role in helping enterprises?
Narinder: MyCloud is a Cloud usage analytics and optimization portal which allows organizations to see how the infrastructure and applications which they are running in the cloud are working. It helps to answer if the cloud is fully optimized? Are they running in a very secure manner? What are the potential vulnerabilities? What is the cost implication? There are multiple factors where we provide that information in the form of a web application and a website. It helps in making decisions and improving security, cost optimization, scalability, flexibility, and various other perspectives.
The way we design and conceptualize applications on the cloud now is fundamentally different as compared to the way it was being done 4-5 years back. And sometimes people might get disenchanted with Cloud, in case they don’t get the real value out of it, not because Cloud didn’t work well, but because they architected it wrongly, or sub-optimally. The platform helps users with insights based on real-time data on cost (monthly usage trends) account usage & health along, monitor’s web pages, sends notifications in case of outage & degraded performance and provides recommendations basis best practices audit around cost, security, availability & usage of AWS resources. To give you another information, we are offering the MyCloud platform to our customers as a Value-Added Service. (Free of Cost).
BW CIO: Out of the multiple facets, how does MyCloud help its customers in Cost cutting?
Narinder: In a hypothetical situation, if you are running ten servers, expecting that it will be attracting 50,000 customers on a daily basis. You started with that, and it actually turns true in the month of November 2017, when you started. Now, over a period of time, you don’t get that much of customers, but a lot of times, people forget that now customers are less because of multiple reasons, and on Cloud you continue to run 10 servers, So MyCloud platform will give you that information in multiple ways like in the form of regular e-mails, and also on the dashboard in the form of notifications that your utilisation of 10 servers is sub-optimal. You can get on with only 40 percent of that, and that might result in 60 percent cost savings and that is one of the areas that we cater to.
To give you another information, we are offering the MyCloud platform to our customers as a Value-Added Service. (Free of Cost). We believe that this is something which we would like to share -all our learning with our customers, without having them incurring any cost. This is a kind of offering to our customers, not completely in the open-source way, but it is free for our customers.
BW CIO: How can businesses and enterprises benefit from it? What makes it stand out from other platforms?
Narinder: Firstly, we are practitioners. We work with different organizations, we bake all those experiences into building platforms, it is not something ‘off the shelf’ and says okay this is what we believe in, what we generally experience if we see that these are the patterns which a lot of organizations generally miss out on. We try to put it back into the platform and once people are using it, they also provide us feedback, and these are actual users. We have been trying to improve the platform and this is what we feel is a differentiating factor as compared to a pure product org which is constantly working with the product. We are coming from a service mindset. These are the things which the organizations have asked for, and they did not have solutions, and we were doing it in a more piecemeal manner, we are trying to do it through the platform.
BW CIO: What security measures have you taken when building the platform?
Narinder: Platform provides and exposes vulnerabilities in the Cloud set of an organization. It is not something for the platform itself. It is more like -this is an organization X, you are running these applications and these may be the potential vulnerabilities which can bring down your application or which can be leading to your user information being leaked out and these are the potential remedies we can look at.
BW CIO: What are the challenges that companies face while optimizing cloud?
Narinder: One of the things is that people right at the conceptual level are in the learning phase around how to design and architect applications which are not retrofitting but designed for the cloud. This is one case where optimization and thought process is required and people lack on optimization. Second is security, how we can make our applications run on cloud and still not have a vulnerability. Third is in terms of availability, how we can be more pro-active in figuring out where potential problems can happen? And how we can be more preventive and pro-active rather than being corrective. These are the 3 areas where we try to work on the platform.
BW CIO: What is the most preferred cloud platform in India?
Narinder: AWS is by far the market leader. It got the early bird advantage as it was the first player in the market, however, each of the players has their own strengths and no one size fits all. We have been working closely with AWS for the past 7-8 years and we are one of their advanced consulting partners in India. We recently got the MSP badge; we are accredited by AWS to take care of organizational critical applications in a 24*7 format in India.
On the other hand, Google is the biggest cloud players and knows better than anyone else when it comes to cloud. Google.com, Youtube, etc, all run on Google cloud platform. Microsoft also has office 365 which is again a big cloud platform. So, all of them are really big and successful with their respective strengths. We as service providers, try to understand all three players’ ecosystems, their strengths, and relative improvement areas to help our customers choose the right platform.
BW CIO: How do you educate your customers to raise awareness?
Narinder: We generally do different meet-ups on a regular basis within our office, mostly centered towards technology-community, about what are the things happening around the cloud. Along with this, we organized a summit where we invited CXOs of the entire region, sharing our experiences. We also invited solution architects from AWS to explain about what cloud is, what are the services offered which can be leveraged and invited other people who are using the cloud to share their experiences. We are going to organize a similar event in near future. We keep on organizing such conferences and workshops and we write content in form of blogs and whitepapers sharing our thoughts.
BW CIO: What difference have you been noticing about the cloud market in India as compared to the Global backdrop?
Narinder: I think India with all the digitization initiatives and with the GOI push, it is a much more happening market as compared to markets in the west. It is because they started early and of course they are more mature in terms of adoption and penetration. But we are seeing lot more action and innovation here so it is a good place to be in and we have learned a lot from the Indian market as compared to what was the case for us 3 years back.