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The cloud is the new normal: Chandrashekhar Sankholkar, GM, Amazon Internet Services (AISPL)

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India Inc is in the midst of a huge digital transformation exercise, and the cloud is playing the role of a huge catalyst by being the foundation for a majority of digital transformation projects. Gartner, for instance, estimates the India public cloud services revenue to grow 37.5% in 2018 to USD $2.5 billion, up from $1.8 billion in 2017.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has clearly championed and pioneered the benefits of a technology like cloud computing, is seeing huge growth with adoption growing across sectors. Chandrashekhar Sankholkar, GM, Amazon Internet Services (AISPL), the Indian subsidiary of the Amazon Group, which undertakes the marketing of AWS Cloud services in India, shares with Express Computer, the key reasons why his firm is betting extremely big on the Indian market

Can you share with us an overview of the firm’s growth in India?

Today we have millions of customers across the globe. These customers are running every possible use case in every possible vertical. We’ve also been the fastest growing IT enterprise, enterprise IT business which has crossed 10 billion in 10 years. I think the next company to do that took about 20 years plus to do that. So just shows how fast the cloud was being adopted. Coming to India, I think Amazon’s been around for about a decade in India. We have now a presence of tens of thousands of employees in 95 cities as Amazon. And AISPL which I represent which is Amazon Internet Services Private Limited which represents AWS has about 6 offices in India and we are growing pretty rapidly. In terms of our infrastructure, we have data center clusters in 18 geographically separated regions. And we have 54 availability zones. Look at them as a collection of data centers. And we also have 114 PoP locations which are edge caches locations. And we have a flurry of 125 plus services. Coming to India, we announced the Mumbai region in June of 2016. And just before the region, we had announced 75000 customers about a year back. After the region, the acceleration really picked up for customer adoption. We announced 120,000 customers in June 2016. And today we have hundreds and thousands of customers. So the Indian market is growing really big.

We’re further supported by an ecosystem of partners in the APN who expand our geographic and technology coverage. India was the country that contributed the most new non-US headquartered APN Partners in 2017, with India accounting for almost 50% of all new APAC-headquartered APN Partners last year.

Purely from an adoption point of view, how is the story in the enterprise sector?
As far as the enterprise is concerned, we are observing that the cloud is the new normal. So hardly anybody is buying hardware today. So for any new projects, digital projects, system of engagement kind of projects, companies are essentially just trying out experiments on the cloud – be it a website or a digital property. They are looking at ways in terms of how they can now retire their legacy.
So AWS is now focused on doing two things for customers. One is that how can we unleash factories of innovation in enterprises and the second one is how do we help them to save costs by retiring their legacy. So these are the two focus areas.

Now we are seeing some distinct patterns in the baseline in the enterprise sector. The first one is a no-brainer — it’s a dev and test environment. Many customers are using AWS for dev tests or experiments. For example, the L&T Group or the Bajaj Group essentially started off with dev and test on our platform. The next big trend is building entirely new apps, and this is an exciting area. So for example when Star was building Hotstar, they were disrupting themselves by coming into the OTT space. Or look at Bajaj Finance which is a very traditional company. Today, it’s one of the top ranking NBFC lenders in the country today. The firm wanted to build a digital first platform. They chose AWS and essentially they are disbursing a loan to consumers in 32 seconds. So to do that they have built up on a cloud native platform on AWS. This is an entirely new application. The third trend is using the cloud for running a firm’s digital properties. The next trend is an interesting area which is analytics and mobile. So what we are seeing is now there is an explosion not only of structured data but also unstructured data. So therefore when you have structured data you can warehouse. When you have unstructured data you can go with Hadoop and things like that. When you have both you need concepts known as data lakes. Aditya Birla Group is an example of a group embarking on a data lake.

Do you see mission critical applications moving to the cloud?
Let’s talk about SAP. So L&T Infotech just moved a 5000 plus user S4 HANA mission critical application onto AWS. Look at it in terms of the SMB companies, mid-market companies. Super Max which is the blade manufacturer, they moved SAP. Brigade Group moved their SAP. You look at Future Group which was the first SAP Hybris deal in the country which moved completely on AWS and the best part was SAP Hybris was on AWS and their SAP runs on on-premise. And then we’ve got the same thing with Shopper’s Stop following up with SAP Hybris on AWS. So these are very mission critical applications. We’re also seeing a very new trend and we’re seeing core insurance players moving their core applications on to AWS. And we’re seeing a lot of more of these core ERPs, core systems moving to AWS. And the last trend is something that we are seeing now.

You have also spoken about the concept of All-in? Can you explain
So for example Jim Fowler who is the CIO of GE, he went on record saying that we have been on our on-premise resource centers for data centers for about 140 years. GE has existed for about 140 years. But the next 140 years, the CIO said that they are going to be with AWS. So they embarked on a project that calls for moving 34 data centers and collapsing it into 4 data centers. And the rest of it they are moving to AWS. So they are the world’s first industrial cloud company. Capital One Bank is moving from 8 data centers to 3. Sun Corp is moving 2000 applications into this thing. In India the trend has already started. Now these things do take time. There are customers who have already started on this journey. One of the first few starting points is we are seeing core applications or SAPs or data lakes. I can give you an example of a company known as SEW which is into the EPC space. And what they are telling us is that when they moved their data centers onto AWS, the cost of that AWS bill was less than the AC cost of running their old data centers.

Additionally, the advantages of the cloud are only in the cloud. So it’s zero dollars to get you started. And you can be as elastic as the demand comes. You don’t need to do the undifferentiated everything. You can go global in minutes. I think the top reason is agility. You can try a lot of experiments and if you’re pushing the envelope many of those experiments can fail on the cloud and you can fail cheap. And that is the very reason why if you name a disruptor in any industry chances are they are on AWS because they have taken these long standing industries and they have disrupted those industries because of the experimentation possibility available on the cloud.

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