How data explosion, remote working disrupts the role of Cloud Service Providers


CRN India and Western Digital recently hosted a power packed Virtual Roundtable(vRT), which was joined by India’s leading cloud service providers (CSPs) such as Sify, Zoho, Yotta and NxtGen who shared their business challenges and mutually agreed upon that the pandemic has grown the trust and dependency of customers among CSPs like never before for providing seamless business continuity  

As India grapples with the pandemic, Cloud Service Providers(CSPs) across the board are finding ways to adapt to what is being called the ‘New Normal’. The crisis has had a particularly deep impact on business operations and adapting to the changing times is critical for the survival of these businesses. Being the technology warriors of large companies, the role and responsibility of CSPs have been shifted from a simple infrastructure provider to an all-rounder technology services provider for meeting the growing needs of data driven businesses. With this backdrop, CRN India and Western Digital conducted a power packed virtual roundtable along with leading cloud service providers of India.

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The vRT titled: ‘Building Data Driven Businesses’ was moderated by Nivedan Prakash, Senior Assistant Editor CRN-Express Computer. He was joined by Ravi Maguluri, CTO, Data Center and Cloud Services, Sify Technologies, North America,Manish Israni, Executive Vice President & CIO, Yotta Infrastructure Solutions, Ranjit Metrani, Head of Sales and Solutions, NxtGen Infinite Datacenter, Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director, Zoho Europe and Jaganathan Chelliah, Director – Marketing, Western Digital, India.

The digital roundtable covered a wide array of engaging discussions including cost optimisation, data migration challenges, data growth, and emerging technologies such as software-defined storage.

Ravi Maguluri

Giving a perspective on how Sify is handling the ‘New Normal’, Ravi Maguluri, who joined the session from USA stated that, “While we have always been preparing our customers and ourselves to ensure business continuity for the kind of uncertain times that we have been forced into, these are very different times with unprecedented demands on technology and require innovative approaches to address the challenges. We at Sify have been at the forefront of delivering value to our customers over time with our philosophy of cloud at the core of our portfolio of services. We use our experience of operationalising technologies to deliver best value to customers with agility, flexibility and choices.”

While Sridhar Iyengar of Zoho, based out of Netherland, highlighted the growing need of smart applications, he said, “We are living in a bizarre world today, wherein we are in midst of a pandemic and everyone is forced to work from home. It has disrupted normal lives. However, the digital economy is powering the new way of work from home. The pandemic has accelerated its growth. Collaborations and communications have taken priority. As a CSP, we see a surge in demand for applications that require collaborations, video conferencing and communications. In fact, we see 10x to 15x of growth.”

He further added, “We are seeing demand for applications which are sensitive to latency that aside pushing demand for new age applications. For example, in Europe some of the countries are opening up. One of the governments wants an application to access the health risk, when they open the public places. The need for customised applications has grown more in this pandemic.”

Manish Israni

Agreeing to its first two co-panellists, Manish Israni of Yotta highlighted, “Lot of mid and large sized companies are looking to move to the cloud and minimise their investments on hardware. They are now turning to the data and hardware specialist providers like Yotta, as their business needs only data. Due to the pandemic, most of the companies are not able to run its data room, 24×7. Hence, they have moved their private cloud to data centre (DC) specialists. There is unprecedented growth in data and applications in our country that is pushing the need for more scalable, resilient, reliable data centre places that can hold the data and make them available 24×7 and give 360-degree solutions to data.” Yotta, a fairly new entrant into DC business, is expanding its DC and cloud offerings to meet the growing need of data.

Ranjit MetraniSeconding the thought of Ravi and Sridhar, Ranjit Metrani of NxtGen said, “Traditionally, CSPs are ready for a disaster. Having said so, CSPs can’t continue to operate as they used to do. The entire WFH culture is a big change for companies. They are adopting existing or new age cloud solutions. We started seeing lots of assortment of applications being used largely for voice, video, employee engagements, productivity, employee’s wellbeing, identity protection, security and clearly protection of IP. Today, customers want CSPs to deliver more just beyond the basic infra layer. This is where we are working closely with customers to build new platforms for delivering the digital services.”

Jaganath Chelliah

Sharing the perspective of storage providers, and how Western Digital (WD) is offering a one stop storage solution to cloud service providers, Jaganathan Chelliah informed, “Today, at WD, we manage approx. 50 percent of the world content using our storage solution. Hence, we are in a better position to meet the emerging market requirements. The CSPs are expected to provide anything and anywhere service, and we are helping and providing the right building block of products and solutions with best storage experience that covers low latency, flexible, modular, and scalable.”

The second half of the session touched upon the most pressing topic – Cost Optimisation. Presented CSPs shared their best practices while managing the cost vs data growth.

Taking the lead, Ravi of Sify shared, “Regardless of the current situation, we have been forced to bring down the input cost of the infrastructure. Since the customers want to defer the financial risk of getting stuck with the committed payment model, we have been trying to cater to the increasing demand of infrastructure and neutralise the financial impact of that by working and pushing the pay-as-you-go model. Also, with the advanced network technology and the ubiquitous availability of tiered storage solutions, we have managed to learn the cost optimisation game to a large extent.”

While Sridhar opines, “There is no magic bullet. The best way for controlling the cost is working closely with the technology providers and bundling the services to the customers. As at the end of the day customers appreciate the bouquet of services.”

Sharing how Yotta is managing the cost, Israni pointed out, “We work in a way where our customers can get better value. Therefore, we need to create all sorts of models which fit into current technology needs along with value and volume to the customers by controlling the cost and meeting the new data demands proactively.”

Calling ‘cost’ a critical part of CSPs offering, Ranjit from NxtGen, one of the CSPs of Western Digital shared, “With shrinking IT budget, we follow the simple philosophy of ‘doing more with less’. We are doing it by competitive agility, off-setting the cost against the newer technologies and using existing infrastructure efficiently. For example, at our high-density data centre in Bangalore, we offer 52 racks to stack 25 percent more equipment per rack and leverage VC optimisation. In a nutshell, we are looking at doing more with the existing infra and controlling the cost.”

Responding to the views shared by CSPs, Jaganathan from WD talked about the vast array of storage offerings be it flash and SSDs. He also mentioned about Western Digital’s close partnership with various CSPs and managing the cost optimisation with latest cloud storage solutions such as NVMe SSDs, portfolio of Ultrastar HDDs, SSDs and memory extension drives that provide low latency with maximum throughput.


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