Speed is biggest differentiator for cloud data companies: NetApp

Speed is biggest differentiator for cloud data companies: NetApp

NetApp has invested heavily in compliance and security technologies that help customers feel confident when they move data to the cloud, said Senior Vice President Anthony Lye

While the global pandemic has only accelerated the cloud adoption globally, in a latest report by IT industry body NASSCOM, India's public cloud market, which currently stands at Rs 17,000 crore, is expected to reach around Rs 63,000 crore by 2025. One of the world's largest cloud data management and management services companies, NetApp not just registered a 192 per cent year-on-year growth in revenues in the Q1, roughly half of its new customers come from cloud business. In an exclusive conversation with BusinessToday.In, Anthony Lye, Senior Vice President And General Manager, Cloud Data Services at NetApp, spoke about the latest trends emerging on the back of the pandemic in the cloud business. Here are the edited excerpts of the interview:

BT: As businesses are increasingly talking of rapid cloud adoption, what has been NetApp's own experience with what has changed in terms of asking from customers and what they are looking for from cloud service providers?

Anthony Lye: Earlier in public cloud, scale was the biggest differentiator and what's happened is the public clouds have completely levelled the playing field. So, even if you're the largest company in the world, the smallest company in the world can now, for virtually nothing, build a product on a public cloud for, next to nothing if you think about the credits. And with smartphones, iOS and Android can distribute an application globally for little to no money. Today CEO of every enterprise wakes up, and checks their iPhones to see whether one of their competitors has released a new piece of functionality. So speed has become the biggest differentiator. Being big doesn't really matter anymore. What we chose to do was to democratise all of NetApp's IP, so that any company of any size can consume our technology. Customers can pay us a few cents or sort of a small amount of money, just when they want to use it.

BT: As India is seeing a rise in SaaS start-ups, do you see the start-up ecosystem being able to take enough advantage of the democratised public clouds?

Anthony Lye: I think public clouds have become much bigger than they were earlier. Today if you were building a brand-new application, your choice would be public cloud, because of the infrastructure availability on a global basis and also the wealth of technology that these public clouds have built. If you think about artificial intelligence or machine learning, most companies in the world can't afford to buy these very expensive GPUs, and so the idea of being able to rent them has enabled so much creativity. SaaS companies in particular have loved the idea of using these infrastructures, and by putting our technology on them, a lot of them use us. Personally, it's so nice to see how much innovation can come outside of the larger organisations, and how much public clouds have empowered so many start-ups to do so many great things.

BT: How has the approach and security needs changed for both, the cloud service providers and for their customers in the pandemic times?

Anthony Lye: We observed three things in the pandemic. The first everybody took out a data insurance policy, and what I mean by that is people took data and put it on the cloud just in case something bad happens. Everybody started copying their data to a public cloud. The second thing of course, was work from office became work from home overnight and there was a mass adoption of virtual desktop infrastructures. So there was a massive shift to virtual desktop infrastructures and people wanted very high performing storage to enable the workforce to be productive. The third thing that happened in the COVID was unpredictability of the demand and the supply signals, so a lot of people really felt that public cloud infrastructure could absorb the elasticity of these unknown signals. With the rush to take advantage also comes with significant risk with questions around security, risk and compliance on the public cloud. At NetApp, we've invested heavily in compliance and security technologies that help our customers feel confident when they move data to the cloud, like scan that data for them, and to give them confidence to run and operate their business.

BT: There is a sort of intersection of managed services being provided by cloud companies to what traditionally IT services companies have provided, where do you see this business segment headed?

Anthony Lye: I think what I see is people really want to focus on the uniqueness of what they do. In the IT environment before cloud, what made one unique was running infrastructure, assembling big teams of people inside and outside the company who had IT skills. What we're seeing now is taking on new responsibilities with public cloud commoditising infrastructure. We do a lot of work with Indian companies around cost optimisation, but most are rushing without any real understanding of cost. So a service provider is now starting to say that they will run optimisations for you. I think Indian technology companies have such a significant amount of skill, so if NetApp can empower service providers and consulting companies, to help their customers, optimise the infrastructures, the customers can continue to go on. There is a very big role for CSPs MSPs. IT outsourcing companies have a huge opportunity with public cloud, as the market for technology just got 10 times bigger.

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