The opening of Cloud Platform Region in Mumbai last November by Internet technology giant Google seems well timed with the increased pace of digitisation across Indian businesses. Large enterprises in India began launching the new projects entirely in the cloud while exploring hybrid models for their existing businesses as they head for the digital transition.
"What we have done with Google Cloud is we are really opening up the best of Google to end customers," says Rick Harshman, managing director (APAC) of Google Cloud, which is one of the world's top three cloud service providers alongside Amazon and Microsoft according to Gartner's report in 2017. In an interview with B Dasarath Reddy, Harshman says there was no reason why the businesses here in India can't leverage Google Cloud or cloud services in general when those services are available in a cost-effective model. Excerpts of the interview:
How significant is the cloud services market for Google here in India?
We have been here for a number of years and there are thousands of customers here in India currently leveraging Google Cloud. According to Gartner, the Indian market for the cloud is about $1.6 billion, roughly, in 2017. But that's just a point in time. The year-on-year growth in cloud-based services that are used is 25-40 per cent. So there is a substantial growth. We have invested substantially in India. Opening a cloud region itself is a big investment.
Who do you consider as your target customer for your cloud services here?
The beauty of the cloud is we have customers like individual developers that use the platform to the largest enterprises. People just get started because everything is available as we are a web-based UI (user interface). But the companies that my team engaged with will be what we would consider decent sized companies and large enterprises.
Indian enterprises are still not 100 per cent in cloud space yet. How do you view the level of maturity of Indian market?
That's true. The reality is that depending on what analyst report you would read, anywhere from 5-10 per cent of all applications or workloads currently work on the cloud. That means there is a tremendous amount of greenfield or white space.
I would say $1.6 billion market is pretty good. Is there a plenty of room to continue to grow? Yes. The upside, not just here in India, but globally, a trillion dollar plus... that is the market opportunity. That's a pretty interesting long-term business opportunity.
Which of your services are finding traction with the businesses in India at present?
A lot of companies are moving from paper, and looking at ways to digitise their workforce, to organise themselves differently, and to collaborate differently, which is where G Suite(a part of Google cloud) — our collaboration platform that includes e-mail, docs, sheets, presentations, video conferencing etc, comes into play. We are fortunate enough to work with thousands of companies across India, including big names like Dainik Bhaskar, Hero Motors, DTDC, DBCorp and Adani that have gone Google from a collaboration perspective. That is one area.
Another area is.. for new projects they are turning to the cloud from an infrastructure-as-a-service or a platform-as-a-service because that enables them to be agiler and enables them to do large projects quickly. They are actually challenging their way of thinking in what I would call failing fast or be failing cheap as the cost of cloud resources for computer storage databases are cost effective and they can be charged in a per-second basis.
Are India's large enterprises ready to move their data to the cloud?
As I said its a journey. Most companies will identify a few projects they would like to move to the cloud. One other thing the enterprises are really looking for is they want to have either hybrid setups or multi-cloud setup. For whatever reason, they may need to have multiple providers or maybe they need to have some data remain at their own data centre and the rest of it being in the cloud. So it is really important that cloud providers enable for an open cloud or an open source framework as well as interoperability.
But we also got a number of examples where companies that I think will be the future enterprises of India had built everything in the cloud from the beginning.
How Google Cloud differentiates itself from others as there are many players out there in the market?
We have been running cloud-based services for nearly 20 years. When you think about Google as a whole, we have over 7 services currently that handle more than a billion users at any particular time. So we are very experienced in handling a large amount of data in globally distributed users and in the context of server management expertise, or how do you best take advantage of data analytics and those services in machine learning Google Cloud really does stand up. What we have done with Google Cloud is we are really opening up the best of Google to end customers.
The other big difference between Google Cloud and some of the other providers that we have invested heavily on deploying and then operating undersea cables. Why that's important because, when you run an application as a company on Google Cloud you remain on Google's network because that would provide better performance, better reliability and better quality of service and better security and that's critical for businesses.
In its journey of evolution, has the Cloud acquired any significant new features in recent times?
The pace of innovation from a technology perspective within Google Cloud is only accelerated. Cloud has democratised the infrastructure and democratised software it overall democratised IT. And so were we seeing that evolve is more of a democratisation of data analytics tools because there has just been an explosion of data because of mobile phones.
A great example of this being what we are doing with Policy Bazar. We had created a conversational chat-bot with machine learning capabilities to answer the online queries as they wanted to make its human resources focus on higher value service. Since that launch about six months ago, the month on month growth is sustained at about 30 percent growth in the purchase of policies.