The year 2020 was impacted by Covid-19. This led to businesses addressing unique demands and expediting businesses continuity plans. The pandemic has proved to be a turning point for digital transformation.
Rajesh Awasthi, Associate VP, Global Managed Hosting & Cloud Services, Tata Communications, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: How do you see Covid-19 transforming businesses across India?
Rajesh Awasthi: Covid-19 has created an immediate need for businesses to address unique demands and expedite business continuity plans. The new way of doing business looks very different with reference to how work is performed and the way we perceive work arrangements. In retrospect, this pandemic has proved to be a turning point for digital transformation of the workplace.
The situation has widened horizons for digital transformation as organisations across industries invest in technology to boost up their resiliency. We have seen large scale implementation of mission-critical applications and solutions such as increased cloud adoption become the order of the day for any business continuity plan.
We have seen a broader appreciation for Cloud as the one stop solution to enable business continuity, remote working, and operational flexibility – all of this in a cost-efficient manner.
By taking full advantage of the cloud platform and cloud-native approach, enterprises are unlocking greater speed and agility in innovation.
DQ: How is the cloud demand right now?
Rajesh Awasthi: According to IDC’s Covid-19 Impact on IT spending Survey, 64% of organisations in India are expected to increase their demand for cloud computing while 56% of them expect to see an increased demand for cloud software. To ensure business continuity in the new normal, organisations are shifting focus from CAPEX to OPEX leading to acceleration in cloud adoption.
To add, cloud solutions offer flexibility and scalability to organisations. There is ease of provisioning whereby organisations can build up or down as per need and only pay for what is used – this is a huge benefit as enterprises globally face cash flow challenges. For the level of uncertainty, we face, cloud solutions are the ideal, if not the only solution, as all interactions have now moved to digital channels.
We have seen demand coming through from IT, ITES, banking, as well as manufacturing sectors, followed by others. We supported customers by enabling collaboration and video conferencing solutions. For users with heavy data usage or the ones requiring data confidentiality such as research, healthcare, or life sciences, we are working with them on virtual desktop solutions.
We are also offering various security solutions to our customers as security continues to be a key concern, more so now as more employees are accessing the corporate network and data remotely, along with data protection and full-fledged disaster recovery solutions. Some public cloud customers are looking at options for home grown cloud services to work around their IT budgets and avoid fluctuating bills, we are engaging with customers in this space as well.
We are further seeing more businesses shift from monolithic or n-tier (web tier, app tier and database) architecture to microservices architecture and containerised environments. Cloud-native technology and methodologies such as containers, microservices and Kubernetes orchestration can be key enablers for organisations as they undergo digital transformation.
Tata Communications’ IZO Cloud Containers is enabling enterprises to adopt DevOps, modernize legacy applications to overcome infrastructure limitations, and build cloud native applications. This container as a service platform is integrated with Tata Communications’ IZO™ Cloud Command portal, giving customers the flexibility of self service, monitoring, provisioning, and ticketing through a single pane of glass. Given the importance of DevOps to digital transformation and the supporting role of containers and other cloud-native software, these trends are expected to emerge in a bigger way in the near future.
DQ: Besides BFSI, are there other sectors who are adopting cloud?
Rajesh Awasthi: While the BFSI industry is deploying private cloud solutions to cater to the increased demand of digital services by customers, we have also seen a rise in cloud usage by the IT, ITES, as well as manufacturing sectors. Cloud computing is the underlying platform behind the solutions being embraced by the manufacturing sector amid the pandemic to digitize their production and supply chain management.
Additionally, to minimise physical contact and adhere to social distancing norms, industries such as healthcare, retail, travel, media & entertainment, events, and education are also embracing cloud-based tools. For instance, Tata Communications’ Secure Connected Digital Experience proposition is supporting businesses across industries such as retail, automotive, BFSI, IT/ITeS, BPOs, travel and hospitality industries, etc., to offer a complete digital first and secure collaboration experience, all enabled by cloud.
Essentially, cloud adoption is no longer about simply cost savings. Amid the pandemic, cloud has proven its ability to improve productivity, agility, and resilience. Going forth, more and more industries will explore options on the cloud.
DQ: How are you helping enterprises with data protection and DR?
Rajesh Awasthi: With more businesses embracing cloud migration, management of cloud security operations, security governance and compliance are becoming key factors influencing their selection of cloud services. CIOs are looking for the same level of security for their cloud infrastructure as they do for on premise solutions.
We are helping organisations securely onboard on the cloud, starting from procurement, deployment of security technologies and controls to end to end management of security operations. We are providing tools to achieve better visibility, detecting, and addressing threats quickly and efficiently, regardless of where they occur on the cloud.
By using the right mix of cloud native and third-party applications to provide comprehensive cloud protection for an organisation, we are supporting organisations with continuous re-evaluation of cloud infrastructure from a security perspective. Equipped with an all-inclusive cloud security experience and skills to handle multiple cloud providers, we are ensuring effective protection across an organisation’s entire digital estate.
When it comes to disaster recovery, we offer a fully managed, fast, and reliable solution covering the entire disaster recovery lifecycle including proactive pre-DR drills. Implemented across the hybrid cloud environment, from cloud to colocation, we prepare a bespoke and flexible DR strategy that caters to an organisation’s specific business needs. In case of any disruption, the team ensures an immediate and seamless transition to the organisation’s secondary site, enabling near-zero business disruption and 99.9% uptime of its DR infrastructure.
DQ: How are enterprises positioned in the move to digital?
Rajesh Awasthi: While Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst for digital transformation of enterprises, early adopters have had a leaner adoption curve, whereas, the late entrants are attempting to do so in record time. In fact, it was the companies and start-ups that had a digital presence that managed to continue operations in the initial days of the pandemic – from food delivery to management of essential supplies.
However, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that enterprises are now on their way to making a digital-led recovery from the pandemic. Enterprises across industries have realised that their only option is to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. They have moved from pilot projects to active, scaled-up implementation of these technology led projects.
Many enterprises have already overhauled their traditional operating models integrating and enabling their operations with critical digital capabilities. Moving forward, this uptick in adoption of digital technologies will only see a further boost. Digital capabilities will stay crucial for operational resilience and from here on, enterprises will only move towards a more evolved and digitally aligned operational model.
DQ: What are the five trends you see for CIOs in 2021 and beyond?
Rajesh Awasthi: To begin with, in this cloud-first world that we are moving towards, CIOs will look for cost-optimised cloud solutions that will provide them the maximum RoI within lower budgets, reducing the total cost of ownership. They will prefer Opex models as opposed to large or long-term capex investments. The pay per use flexibility that cloud solutions offer would be preferred, and likely to continue as a trend.
Second, CIOs would place cloud security and compliance as one of their priorities in choosing cloud services. They would look at integrating a highly customised security framework in the design phase itself rather than looking at it as an afterthought. Furthermore, we foresee that cloud security, in the future, will be a shared responsibility between three key stakeholders, namely, the enterprise, the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) and the Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP).
Third, to accelerate their organisation’s cloud journey, CIOs will seek CSPs that have multi-cloud management expertise along with core infrastructure capabilities including network capabilities, hosted private cloud services and colocation services. They would look to partner with service providers equipped with a breadth of services to build, deploy, manage, optimise, and renovate their cloud environment.
Fourth, we expect that moving forward, CIOs’ considerations will gradually shift towards Container as a Service (CaaS). To meet their business requirements, they will opt for more and more services on the containerised environments because containers offer several key advantages such as IT operations efficiency, security, cost, and developer speed.
The last trend that would largely impact CIOs business decisions in the far-future would be the move towards deeper integrations and cross-over of cloud-native software with adjacent trends and technology including data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT/edge computing.