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Making the Cloud a Business partner

The market for cloud has matured tremendously over the last few years, says Gurprit Singh, Director, Umbrella Infocare. But the future is not merely cloud migration, but building business solutions around the strong base that AWS provides.

  1. What maturity level would you rate the Indian market for using the public cloud for enterprise?
Gurprit-Singh
Gurprit Singh, Director, Umbrella Infocare

I think the customers have matured quite a lot now. When we started the journey about 5 years back, there were a lot of questions around things like why cloud, security, why should we give our data and things like that but now I think we have moved much ahead.

Earlier our discussion was 50% around security, now it is 5-10% around security. Today people are talking about mission critical first. So today we are talking about ERP workloads as the first workload migrating for our customers. I would say in the enterprise, a lot more companies and engaging with us for migration as well, and in fact our funnel is 40-50% enterprise customers up from about 4-5%.

As far as domain is concerned, we have customers from manufacturing, retail andPharma, and from healthcare and education as well. So our customer base is quite varied.

But we as an organization are more technology focused, not domain focused. So we provide the infrastructure layout. We provide managed services and even DevOpps for them. So it is very clear for us that we are not into the space where we provide domain solutions for customers. We are building strengths around certain segments, but right now we are doing a lot of cloud solutions- managed services for them, so really, for us, it could be any customer.

  1. What is the typical share of AWS cloud in your customers’ overall cloud strategy?

We do only AWS, our 100% clouds is AWS only.It’s a very large percentage, growing about 100% every year. F our total business, AWS is about 65%, and rest is Citrix, and that’s what’s growing faster, since adoption of cloud is much faster and Citrix is more limited to enterprise solutions. So AWS share percentage to our customer is increasing every year, as cloud adoption is increasing. 

  1. How do you leverage business intelligence solutions from Qlik to build cloud solutions on AWS?

BI is an area we started about one and half years back, with good success, as earlier we were only doing technology, migration managed services. But we realized that a lot of our customer data has already moved to the cloud and they would look at the next layer as analyzing that data. So we get good traction with our customers on doing BI and analytics for them.

We are doing BI analytics only on AWS cloud. We are very focused, using only cloud and using only cloud tools like EMR. Almost all our projects are about building data lakes for our customers.

For use cases, for one large customer we have done their complete log analytics, now we are building Data Lakes for another large customer, about 30-35 applications and we are getting data from all those applications and building a data lake for them, building visualizations from around AWS technologies and some around Qlik, they want to use both the applications. We are getting the data, doing the whole transformation of the data using all AWS technologies- and then doing the visualization.

  1. Could you share statistics on the savings that any of your clients have seen after a successful migration to cloud?

Typically the customers who are under managed services with us, as we see per stats about 6 months back, savings are about 15-35% or 40%. Their various options are what AWS has- like right sizing and reserving stands. Then the cost optimization could be between 15-20% to 30-35% for customers.

Often, we have situations which have crossed 55% cost optimization. Also, being in a Managed Services engagement is important because you can only do cost optimization after you manage the patterns, looking at the cost pattern of the customer. And then you can come to a stage where you can re-architect their structures so that they can scale. Bring in that architecture layer into their customers’ infra ensures cost optimization.

We need to realize that cost optimization is a journey, it is not an event. Maybe you can do it today, but you will have to revisit it after six months because there maybe a cost optimization opportunity. It’s a journey which we do with our customers every three months and we see that we can do substantial cost savings this way.

  1. What are the security challenges you face in migrating your customers to AWS cloud?

I would say security is a conversation which you have with your customers from the start of the engagement. We as an organization understood long back that we will need to build strengths around security for AWS for our market to start looking at AWS as a part of their enterprise plan. So we invested quite a lot in understanding the customer requirements of the security, mapping it with the AWS services. There are lot of solutions in that area. So a customer might be using a TrendMicro solution on premise, and so wehave done a lot of mapping on what a customer has done on premise and on cloud, to get answers to the customer.

In AWS  as a platform, the governance and compliance is much higher. Customers also say, that a well-managed public cloud is much more secure than on-premise. Any engagement we have with a customer, and we have a lot of engagements with large CISOs, it’s always a yes from the CISO to the procurement, to the IT infrastructure if we are talking AWS. They are convinced that we meet all of the criterion which CISOs tick off – authentication, encryption, and authorization. Whatever the requirements are, I think AWS meets everything.

I don’t remember a case where the customer did not shift because of security risk- or where we were unable to meet their security requirements.

  1. What kind of support have you been getting from AWS for a joint call?

AWS have a large pre-sales team, so whenever we need them, they are always there, fulfilling the sales needs and filling large amount of documentation. Because in security what is important is customer ask for- how do you ensure that when I leave your cloud, my Data gets erased. They want to see those documents, so we are able to present them to the customer since they come from the AWS teams to support us.

  1. Any breakthrough wins you had in the recent past?

We are doing a large SAP Hana migration, and another Oracle deployment, quite large but names we may not be able to share.

  1. What are your top focus areas over the next 2-3 years? What role does your current vendor partnerships play in your future plans?

I feel that migration will continue to be a large game over the next two years.  We have good competence there, so we will build on that and keep focusing there.Managed services will also be there and grow, because customers will need a large amount of support after migration.

So these are the two things which we are doing and we will continue to do for the next 2-3 years.

The area where we are building our strength is on Big Data Analytics. We have started engaging with customers in the AI and ML space, and a lot of discussions are happening but that’s not an area where we have done big projects, as yet.

Another area we see a lot of focus that we will need in the near future is- when customers move to the cloud, a lot of them do a lift and shift. So they want to leverage a lot of AWS services. Their team often does not have all the capabilities. So we have a large software arm where we are helping them create a cloud native application, for modernizing their app so that they can use cloud more.

AWS offers you auto scaling, but it can happen only if your application can auto scale! If it’s designed to scale! A lot of applications in the traditional world are not designed to scale. So we work with their development team or we take their development with us and we help them auto scale those applications. So for integration with the AWS services, we see a huge potential in the market where the customer comes to the cloud and we integrate them to the services, modernizing their applications.

  1. Integration between different software layers, is that a challenge?

No, I don’t see that as a problem or a challenge because AWS offers you an application running n premise on windows 12 or 16 or Red Hat Linux or Suse Linux, and AWS offers the same here.

So we don’t see interoperability as challenge.

But how we help customers in this is, a lot of times a customer is running an Oracle on their workload and we shift them to AWS. They would get as good a performance or more, but at a much lower cost.

So they are using something on premise but instead of bringing one of their services here, they use one of the services that AWS offers. If they use a search tool, we can migrate them to elastic search, from Oracle to Aurora. That’s where we can migrate customers to AWS services. So they can manage the platform, we migrate to cloud and the costs are much lower so that’s where inter-portability comes.

But otherwise there is no change, but if they are migrating a workload from on premise to cloud, we need to take care on how the migration needs to happen do they need to take a backup from there, they do a VM export, or re-installation is a discussion point. But whether the application will run or not is not a point. How it will come, is a discussion matter. What are the various modes of bringing the data from there to here? How it will run, is never a challenge.

  1. What’s your take away from this event?

For usit’s very important to understand the direction AWS is taking and what direction customers are taking.

So definitely, we see there is a lot around software space. As a partner, customers are looking at solutions, and not only technology. So over the last one or two years, we have realized that as an organization, we need to start building solutions for customers- Big data, analytics, AI, ML, that’s where AWS invests a lot. Customers are not looking at solutions, not only an AWS platform. So weas a partner need to take solutions to the customers.

We are already building some IPs. When we do managed services, there are a lot of requirements that customers have around backup, monitoring scheduling log management and provisioning, which AWS does to a certain level, but we need to give on a much larger scale. So we are building IP to ensure we are able to give the customers our own product, so from that product we are able to manage a large number of customers rather than going to AWS to manage each customer separately. So from central control we will be able to do log management or other activities. That’s an IP currently we are investing in.It will be launched by the fourth quarter this year, and we will probably be calling it UCloud.

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