Srinivasan CR, Chief Digital Officer, Digital Infrastructure, Application & Security Services (DIAS), Tata Communications,
is the Chief Digital Officer for Tata Communications. He also wears the hat of being the Global Business Head for Cloud and Security businesses at Tata Communications. A technologist with an excellent understanding of technology and services businesses, Srini is responsible for driving the digital strategy and execution for the company.
In an interaction with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, IIFL, Srinivasan CR, Chief Digital Officer, Tata Communications, said “Our investments in digital capabilities have started to show results. We are evolving in line with the industry context.”
What are the major factors influencing Tata Communications' cloud business in India in terms of growth and challenges?
India is racing ahead in digital transformation and both, the Government of India (GOI) and the private sector recognise the cloud’s potential as the key drivers of new age technologies. According to
a Gartner report, India’s public cloud services revenue is projected to grow 37.5 percent in 2018 to total US$2.5 billion, up from US$1.8 billion in 2017. By 2021, more than half of the businesses that are using cloud today in some capacity, are also expected to be ‘all in’.
As the momentum to move to cloud increases, a larger set of companies are voicing the need to shift strategies. This means that rather than lifting and shifting into the cloud, companies need to refactor and rebuild directly on the cloud.
However, despite the exponential growth in cloud computing, it is still at a nascent stage. What often remains a point of uncertainty for many is what type of cloud they should opt for: private or public? Or hybrid? This is largely determined by the IT resources the organisation has, the type of data it has to deal with, and, increasingly, the desire to use the cloud as the foundation for a complete organisation-wide digital transformation strategy, spanning all lines of business. This is what informs their own cloud strategy.
In terms of challenges, often enterprises don’t exploit the full potential by replacing their existing infrastructure with the modern capabilities of the cloud. Educating end users on the immense opportunities cloud provides is critical. Further, as companies transition to cloud-based solutions, another challenge that emerges is ensuring a unified customer experience. The need is to be able to provide a single pathway that manages complex workloads and computing environments, with an integrated view. Lastly, it’s all about the implementation of robust security to eliminate negative consequences of any potential breach.
We’ve addressed these growth factors and challenges in our suite of cloud and hosting solutions by building within the flexibility, scalability and security to help enterprises or governments thrive in this fast-changing marketplace. Our cloud services, infrastructure and set of managed services, help boost productivity by rapidly deploying new applications to work better, faster and stronger while managing business risk by ensuring adherence to regulatory compliance and the data sovereignty framework – which is critical, especially as you consider unique data sovereignty laws of each country.
Today, Tata Communications supports not only enterprises, but also governments. We are the cloud provider for the Indian government’s e-marketplace and are also working on several smart city projects, as these places will generate a lot of data which need to be managed carefully and securely.
Is there an increased adoption towards hybrid-cloud among Indian enterprises?
Cloud computing has evolved over the years. The choice of private, public or hybrid cloud strategy depends on the need of the business. Hybrid cloud orchestrates between the private and the public cloud platform. Companies usually adopt the hybrid approach to take advantage of the public cloud domain while still maintaining control of the intellectual property, as in private cloud.
In India, Hybrid cloud solutions are perceived to be a key driver in the overall cloud adoption. They will help businesses scale by integrating public cloud resources with an organisation’s existing infrastructure, resulting in new capabilities and overall reduction in costs. Hybrid cloud solutions give organisations unlimited resources on-demand while making the most of their existing infrastructure investments. They offer the advantages of a public cloud domain with the security of private cloud. Businesses like the flexibility, which is the backbone of this model, and for this reason that hybrid cloud adoptions continue to rise.
Kindly elaborate on the successful case studies of Tata Communications’ hybrid cloud adoption in India.
Hybrid cloud brings borderless growth and higher productivity for enterprises yet making the switch to a hybrid model can be challenging. Tata Communications sees great opportunity in hybrid cloud deployment for enterprises. Our cloud solutions are a one stop shop for enterprises – from providing design consultation, migration and deployment to monitoring and management support - across sectors and geographies with diverse challenges.
GoAir is a great example of how our cloud solutions can help transform how enterprises operate. GoAir, the low-cost airline based in Mumbai, GoAir was looking for a cloud-based solution and wanted to opt for an OpEx model so they could spread their cost over 5 years. GoAir was already
witnessing double digit growth in passenger numbers but were running on obsolete on-premise hardware and software. We worked with GoAir to update their systems to work seamlessly and provide high quality service, in a cost-efficient manner. Tata Communications understood the security imperative of avoiding shared systems and suggested the hybrid solution of IZO Private Cloud which projected a savings of $80,000 for GoAir by reusing existing software licenses. We not only helped GoAir migrate to the new hybrid cloud infrastructure, but also provided 24/7/365 support which also saved cost to reskill GoAir staff.
The New York based company Infor, that builds business software for specific industries in the cloud, was faced with a challenge for one its customers Tal Apparel, one of the world’s largest clothing manufacturer. Tal Apparel’s in-house computers on which the Infor applications ran, were creating significant bottlenecks with frequent downtime. Tata Communications’ IZO Hybrid Cloud platform provided an infrastructure that was constantly monitored with automatic escalations and stringent SLAs for recovery, resulting in high-performance cloud compute capability, which was implemented in just six weeks. This partnership between Infor and Tata Communications opened up new opportunities for both companies.
What are the top challenges that India faces in cloud adoption?
Nearly 30-45% cloud spends by enterprises are wasted due to improper management. There is a need for more awareness as well as e
xpertise when it comes to cloud enablement, whether public, private or hybrid. There is also a need for understanding of mature solutions like automation, virtualisation, and standardisation.
While we have vendor maturity and enterprise awareness on one hand, on the other hand you have the concerns for data security, risk and compliance, data sovereignty, resilience and interoperability. Of these, data security and privacy are a major concern for enterprises and rightly so. But there are plenty of solutions that the right vendor can offer. For example, compared with public cloud solutions, private clouds give enterprises a lot more control over all applications, complete visibility over where data lives, as well as the liberty to implement controls over the entire cloud estate depending on changing business demands.
All of this makes the support of a cloud service provider critical to architect a solution that addresses needs unique to each enterprise along with scalability, growth of business needs, cost efficiency, all while taking advantage of enterprises’ existing infrastructure.
What are Tata Communications' future plans for the Indian market?
Cloud computing is transforming businesses across industries by delivering unabated cost benefits and innovation. While the private sector is building on cloud computing’s various benefits, Government organisations have also aggressively begun to capitalise on them.
most companies are born in the cloud and grow in the cloud, so their requirements are very different. Cloud is also playing a crucial role in ideating, planning and implementing the Digital India initiative. For both, the enterprises and the country at large, to move to the cloud and deliver solutions is what Tata Communications is strongly participating in.
At Tata Communications we look to strengthen our engagement with Government of India (GoI) using our cloud platform by creating a dedicated Government Cloud Community (GCC) designed to offer a secure and comprehensive cloud platform that meets all business needs. The Government e-Marketplace is now hosted on Tata Communications’ Government Community Cloud and promotes transparency and eliminates opportunities for corruption, also enabling small and micro-enterprises to sell directly to the Government. In addition, Tata Communications is partnering on various Smart city projects — an integral part of the Digital India initiative.
At the same time, we continue to build on our cloud portfolio for enterprises. Our one-stop cloud enablement platform, Tata Communications IZO is a flexible solution which is designed to help navigate complexity for more agile business performance. It allows enterprises to scale seamlessly, expand rapidly and stay flexible without ever compromising security and is in strict compliance with all regulatory and data sovereignty laws. Within this, we manage all private, public and hybrid offerings depending on what our customers need. Today, we
connect businesses to 60% of the world’s cloud giants and we also actively forge partnerships with the top cloud providers like Microsoft, AWS, Salesforce etc. for joint offerings and with Intel, OpenStack, Mirantis and Swiftstack to build an open hybrid cloud ecosystem fit for the enterprises.
The company declared a consolidated net profit of Rs1.6cr in Q2FY19 vs. net loss of Rs250cr in Q2FY18. What is your outlook for H2FY19?
Our investments in digital capabilities have started to show results. We are evolving in line with the industry context. Progress towards software defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV), self-organising networks (SON) and cloud-based is expected to accelerate. We aim to continually transform our network architecture to bring agility, flexibility and lower operational costs to take advantage of these changes.
We’re betting big on our new age services and within this set, in fact this reflects, in our Q2FY19 results announcement, Our Growth Services witnessed QoQ revenue growth of 9.1%, with good traction in IZO cloud enablement, media and entertainment, Global Hosted Contact Centre and mobility services. This is in line with our strategic intent and long-term vision.
Going forward, to meet the needs of our next generation of customer, we aim to be the leading global digital infrastructure service provider not only to make the digital transformation journey of our customers simple, but also to accelerate their business’ path to success.