Ericsson is not late in cloud business, says Jason Hoffman

By: | Updated: September 28, 2015 12:38 PM

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson is transforming to become a leading ICT player and is focusing on five priority areas

Jason-hoffman-ericsson-LCloud is one of the focus areas for the company and is playing a huge role in Ericsson’s transformation, says Jason Hoffman, head of cloud technology at Ericsson where he’s responsible for product, architecture and engineering.

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson is transforming to become a leading ICT player and  is focusing on five priority areas. Cloud is one of the focus areas for the company and is playing a huge role in Ericsson’s transformation, says Jason Hoffman, head of cloud technology at Ericsson where he’s responsible for product,
architecture and engineering. “On one hand, the cloud market in India is recent; on the other hand it is a mobiforce country where interesting application and services are available on devices. With that, the back-end infrastructure has to be here. India has the potential of being our largest market in cloud,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent
interaction. Excerpts:

Q. How important a role cloud and IP are going to play in Ericsson’s transformation into a ICT player?
A. If you look at the ICT part, cloud is the ‘I’ and the ‘C’ part of it. ‘I’ in ICT is for information and just like spectrum is the key asset, classic radio within the cloud business, data and storage products are at the centre of that type. The idea of having a mobile network infrastructure and a complete cloud infrastructure with all the capabilities there when you are connecting these two things with IP; basically it was the missing part of the company activities for being a complete ICT company.

Q. Why have you decided to venture into cloud now?
A. I don’t think we are late all. I say this as someone who is known as a pioneer in the cloud space that the cloud space has not been large enough or interesting enough for company like Ericsson that specialises in globally rolling out industrialised infrastructure. There hasn’t been a common understanding given what cloud is. It is only now that things like IoT that are really driving the need for cloud. So, historically when you look at most of the public cloud offerings it was startups and web companies who were boarding onto those. When you add those types of businesses, these are smaller than our global services businesses. It’s only now when the cloud industry is at a point where the company with the profile of Ericsson can sit down to offer. We can go solve some of the unheard problems. Cloud business has matured enough for a company that does what it does to set up and take the next step.

Q. What will be your India strategy and roadmap for cloud and IP business?
A. If you look at the parts or the portfolio that we are doing, it starts with highly modular, very efficient, data centered facilities. The buildings are full range of network computing storage, hardware that goes in there, and there are application platforms, data platforms and storage products and very unique security and end to end government’s view.

Our strategy, particularly in India is often going into existing customers and new segments. We are looking at what they are doing for infrastructure today. The main complaint that everybody has is that they want things to be automated, they need things to be at a certain economic cost and going by this type of infrastructure completely changes the governance model ranging from security to economic and financial governance of this type of infrastructure.

When you look at it, it’s more about starting with our customers or having like stepwise, component and capability based company appropriate migration pass to very industrialised infrastructure. In some cases, the issues that our customers have is they need to build 20 more facilities. They need to make sure that the building is highly
efficient, power efficient, very modular facilities. They are going to be in place for 30 years, it’s going to be cutting edge. Some of our customers are trying to come up with need for our software that completely automates a highly heterogeneous hardware firm.

In some cases it’s bringing all their data and applications together into single platforms. In some cases they have data locality and sovereignty and security they want to address first. We have a complete portfolio now where each one of our products or components or capabilities can be an entry point for customers because that happens to be the problem they have now. But it still is a part of a complete industrialisation cycle to drive them through.

Q. From the cloud point of view, how important is the India market for you?
A. India is a very important market for us. We look at the whole drive around Digital India. As a company overall we are looking at India as a top 3 market. It is the time for data centre infrastructure to go through modernisation process, the time to have a very efficient, agile and flexible type of infrastructure for launching the types of services that you have here.

Q. Are the cloud demands of Indian customer different as compared to other markets?
A. No, I don’t think that the demands are different. Most people are looking for the same degree of agility and flexibility, the same degree of scalability and same sort of performance requirements. In some markets having that occur within a wider range of economics is fine. Here what you have is a great set of things where we need a very large scale at a very low unit economics without compromising anything on the scalability, performance and reliability.

Q. What kind of traction are you seeing for your cloud solutions in India?
A. We just launched the full portfolio recently in the Mobile World Congress in March. We immediately had lead customers in North East Asia, North America and Europe. We look at the six businesses we are running within the cloud group from that facility to hardware to app platform. Each one of those business have the potential to be multimillion dollar business.

Q. India is a major R&D hub for Ericsson. Are you also coming up with cloud-related innovations from India?
A. Absolutely, Ericsson’s business Unit Cloud and IP employs 11,000 people in India. We have approximately 1,000 engineers in India largely working on the IP part and then how IP relates to the datacentre. The India hub touches every country and every product within the company. We rely on people here to deliver and support the product and see how they are behaving and do product feedback. As a natural consequence, we are doing more deployments to have a better embedded team from the product perspective. We expect us to grow here
in India.

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