With cloud being the critical service for every business, homegrown small and medium cloud firms are making a mark in the market with their innovative solutions
By Srinath Srinivasan
With customers showing a strong preference for on-demand services and products, enterprises are exploring various cloud options—private (their own servers), public (like that of AWS, Azure, Google) and also hybrids, with public clouds doing the heavy lifting and mission-critical tasks in times of scaling the business. While the blue-chip biggies offer services to set up cloud infrastructure and run end-to-end services, there exists a niche segment where many small to medium service providers operate. They enable organisations to set up their own cloud, help them migrate between various large public clouds and also provide value added services on a subscription basis while ensuring high levels of security.
“There are at least 50-60 smaller companies doing revenues around $100 million globally,” says AS Rajgopal, CEO, NxtGen Datacenter. “Many businesses begin their digital journey in a cloud ecosystem and scale up in the same. There is a huge set of features and services to retain enterprises today in one particular ecosystem that makes it look like the market is dominated by only a few. It is both an advantage and a pain point sometimes for enterprises.”
Rajgopal has been at the forefront of providing cloud infrastructure services, data centre co-location for businesses and dedicated hosting with diversification into video analytics, access control and building a platform for NxtGen’s clients to build their own applications. According to him, the use cases are plenty when it comes to cloud but in the last year alone, video analytics, access control and remote monitoring have seen a surge due to Covid-19 and the need to physically stay away from the workplace. The solutions are made for various cloud platforms so that organisations don’t get locked into one when there is a clear need to migrate to other platforms.
“In the public cloud market, it does not make sense to compete with the large brands. Working with them opens up a lot of opportunities,” says Chetan Jain, director, Inspira Enterprise. According to him, for the ones who want to set up their own cloud, the process is pretty straightforward. “First we build and architect their solutions. Once that is done, we implement the solution, and then, operate and manage it for typically three to five years, depending on the customer,” he explains.
Sometimes migrations between various cloud platforms may get complex and that is where service providers like Inspira and NxtGen step in. To them, this is an untapped market and a stronger proposition than competing with the large public cloud players head on. This also opens doors for them to go global. Inspira has been making inroads in the Middle East, Africa, Sri Lanka, and Singapore while NxtGen has presence in UAE and Oman. “Emerging markets have increased data, cyber security and a huge scope of analytics needs. Businesses in these markets evolve every three years and their needs change as well,” says Jain.
Cyber security, access control, analytics, remote surveillance are areas of innovation for these firms. “Covid presented a unique challenge. Disaster recovery needs our people to be on the site and work. Our business was classified as essential service but the risk of getting infected was still present. We had to reimagine that. We strengthened our remote working capability. Many of our customers see this as a boon,” says Rajgopal.
For enterprises experiencing heavy traffic, Inspira uses AI and ML to monitor IPs and data for threats. “One of our customers is a large bank. We monitor close to about five lakh events per second. So we built intelligence, to filter traffic automatically and then to help us manually look at that and decide if that could be a threat,” says Jain.
In terms of adoption of the technologies, the firms look forward to improved data regulations and cultural changes in organisations. “GDPR was a good move at macro level for cloud adoption. If businesses start maintaining basic hygiene, like adopting cloud-first solutions in employee workflows and changing passwords every three months, they will realise the need to have the larger conversation on full transformation and security easily,” says Jain.