Interview: Vikas Arora, country manager, Cloud Business, IBM India & South Asia
This is a transformative time for businesses of all sizes, says Vikas Arora, country manager, Cloud Business, IBM India & South Asia. Technology is allowing companies to create new business models and efficiencies—and cloud computing is at the heart of this transformation. For midsize businesses, the cloud represents an opportunity to leverage leading-edge technologies and shift to a services-based model for IT. “We are also seeing steady cloud adoption by small and medium businesses to reduce costs, increase agility and improve productivity,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
Over the past couple of years, cloud has become the platform for innovation. What does IBM see as the future of cloud?
Cloud has become an enabler of growth for businesses and not just a discussion about cost savings. Keeping this in mind, IBM Cloud has been built for future to help usher in the next era of businesses and focuses around three pillars: it is enterprise strong, built to help companies get value from their data and a cloud possessing a full range of cognitive abilities, from machine learning to AI coupled with strong security and compliance capability. As companies build their cloud strategy, IBM Cloud can also offer various forms of cloud-based services such as blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT). For IBM, cloud as a technology needs to adapt, evolve, and learn to address changing business priorities which will be largely data-driven in the coming years. The future of cloud is one with cognitive at its core and the engine for innovation.
SMBs are no longer thinking of cloud as an afterthought. In terms of technology adoption, what are you seeing in the market?
This is a transformative time for businesses of all sizes. Technology is allowing organisations to create new business models and efficiencies—and cloud computing is at the heart of this transformation. For midsize businesses, the cloud represents an opportunity to leverage leading-edge technologies and shift to a services-based model for IT. We are seeing cloud adoption enabling SMBs to reduce costs, increase agility, improve productivity, and reduce complexity thereby facilitating a complete transformation of their businesses.
Hybrid cloud has become the preferred model of cloud adoption among enterprises, especially in the BFSI sector given the requirement around data residency. What are you seeing in India?
Cloud technologies have become virtually ubiquitous. Across all industries, banking is the most aggressive and largest adopter of the cloud. Bankers recognise the benefits of both public and private cloud. However, they are apprehensive of loss of control or possible security and compliance challenges, obstructing attempts at innovation etc. Hybrid cloud provides a tailored solution. In a hybrid approach, an on-premise cloud can be optimised for operational availability and stability, while an off-premise cloud can be leveraged for the speed and agility essential to enriching customer engagement. Hence, we see increasingly banks taking a hybrid cloud approach.
Cloud datacentres are integral to providing cloud services, and IBM has one in the country. What kind of services and enhanced capabilities does an in-country datacentre offer clients?
We are investing in data centres across the globe so that we have the capability to host cloud services where the client wants them to be hosted, including India. We aim to create a network of data centres designed to bring clients greater flexibility, transparency, and control over how they manage their data, run their businesses and deploy their IT operations in the cloud. The investment in the Chennai data centres is aimed at reaching new clients and meeting growing clients need for choice, compliance, and data residency within India when the client requires it. We are providing services on enterprise workloads with offerings on cloud such as SAP Hana Services, VMware workloads, IBM Cloud Object Storage for large volumes of data in tera and pentabytes, private cloud services which are needed by government and financial customers with data to be residing in India. For start-ups and SMBs, we provide various cloud solutions through our datacentre which helps to accelerate their business.
Security is of big concern nowadays, and so it is with cloud. How is IBM positioned to allay fears around the security of the cloud that clients have?
The dynamic nature of cloud calls for more automated, agile, and elastic approach than traditional security measures within enterprises. IBM Cloud is one of the most secure cloud platforms available today, and it is proven by the fact that we have a large roster of clients in some of the most highly regulated and data-sensitive industries, including global banks, healthcare organisations, telecom, and government agencies. IBM protects the cloud environment through a comprehensive portfolio of solutions. These security solutions span the entire cloud lifespan and all security domains – including identity and access management, application, and data security, as well as infrastructure protection and security intelligence for the cloud. Customers can leverage IBM Cloud infrastructure with bare metal servers that have Intel TX/TPM chips and ensure the workloads they run are not tampered.
IoT and cloud computing has been talked about a lot, but we are yet to see that take fruition. Will it truly take flight, and what kind of opportunities will it provide for enterprises here in India?
IoT has reached an inflection point, in India, and around the world. IoT is no longer a future thought. IoT insights are translating into new business models, new growth opportunities, new markets to go after, and offer deeper, more insightful engagement with customers. According to Forrester Research, India has one of the highest percentages of enterprises that have adopted or are planning to adopt IoT in the world. IBM has built the world’s most powerful IoT platform and we are hosting it in the IBM Cloud; a cloud built for business, designed for data, secure to the core. The IBM Cloud-based Watson IoT Platform is a security-rich, scalable and open platform. We work with 1,000 customers and partners in India who are leveraging IBM Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud and enabling innovation to flourish. The platform collects, stores, and analyses terabytes of data from different sources.