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'Cloud is a $3–4 bn opportunity in India'

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It has been a momentous week for Google in India. First, on Monday, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet, announced a $10 billion investment in India over next three to five years. Even as the impact of that announcement was being assessed, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh announced at RIL’s annual general meeting on Wednesday $4.2 billion of that $10 billion is going in as equity in Jio Platforms, RIL’s telecom and data-focused subsidiary. In a three days, Google not only committed funds to accelerate digitisation of the Indian economy but has also agreed to pick a stake in the largest telecom company in India.A key part of Google’s plan to expand its India footprint is through its cloud services. Pichai also mentioned it as one of the target areas for investments in India. Google Cloud is led globally by another Indian expat, Thomas Kurian. Google Cloud India has been on a hiring spree. Google Cloud India’s Managing Director Karan Bajwa and Vice-President (Engineering) Anil Bhansali tell Suman Layak what plans they have for India. Edited excerpts:Sundar Pichai mentioned data centres as one of the key investment areas in India, which essentially is part of Google Cloud India. What does Google Cloud have in store for India?Bajwa: We are seeing the execution of a well thought out global strategy in India. Our tech platform is built around nine key Google services, including network, storage, data, analytics and artificial intelligence. What we are doing now is to put the right people in front of customers, and create different selling models. We are hiring too. I myself am 5 months old in this organisation and Anil came on board 4 months ago. We have just on-boarded Anil Valluri as senior director last month. He was with NetApp India. We have also tied up with partners like Deloitte, who are consultants and help us understand the market, and local hosters like Netmagic.Bhansali: We have a data centre in Mumbai, and in March we announced that we will have a data centre in Delhi too. We will be offering our computing, storage and security offerings. We have to meet the customer where he needs us, through public cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud and edge as well. We are building a world-class engineering organisation in India and have development teams in Hyderabad and Bengaluru.77042953So who will be your key customers in India, given that some of the competition like Microsoft or IBM would have legacy business already with larger Indian clients?Bajwa: Let me show with examples from the last few months who our customers are and what we can do for them. We have helped Sharechat move to Google cloud. They were very clear about moving on to better technology and the migration was also handled by Google. We worked on speeding up the loan approval process for L&T Financial Services, right up to disbursal. Within the first 30 days, we saw 95% of that process getting completed within two minutes. The National Payments Corporation of India also got on board Google Meet for their conferencing needs. So you see these are three different organisations of different sizes and backgrounds that we have worked for. We also helped Cleartrip move from physical data centres to Google Cloud Platform. Is the Covid-19 situation changing the way Google Cloud will roll out in India?Bajwa: A lot of our assumptions about work, about travel, about offices have been demolished. We can reinvent workplaces. Tech will come to the fore. It will offer customers the opportunity to scale and also be ready for any level of disruption. But capital will be scarce, so consumption-based models, operational expenses-based models will be very popular. Cloud and cloud migration is a $3-4 billion opportunity in India and the Covid-19 situation is going to expand these opportunities.Tells us about new offerings like Anthos that now works on Amazon Web Services and is likely to be launched for Microsoft Azure too.Bhansali: Anthos is an app modernisation platform that allows us to work with the client and help migrate them irrespective of the cloud, it could be Google, or multi-cloud or even on-premise. As we get into deeper conversations with the customers, we are getting to know that more and more customers want to adapt to the cloud, and more of them want a multi-cloud strategy.Bajwa: Multi-cloud is a reality that customers desire. Anthos now supports AWS and we are doing a preview with Azure. With BigQuery, our data management platform, we will have the same abilities even if the data resides on other cloud platforms. Google Kubernetes, a technology from the Google stable, is also our commitment to go open source.The blockbuster announcement at the Reliance Industries’ AGM was about Google investing $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms. Jio also has a cloud offering. Will Google Cloud ride on that platform to reach out to customers?Bajwa: I wouldn’t like to comment on something that has just been announced.The Indian cloud market is now very fragmented. How will you differentiate your cloud offering?Bajwa: We will be different in how we go to the market. We will provide optimisation through innovation and optimisation through our pricing, along with usage tracking and billing. We will have robust AI and machine learning tools and comprehensive and easyto-configure security. All this is backed up by thousands of miles of data fibre and modern private cloud infrastructure across the world. We will also handle the migration to Google Cloud, or we can bring the cloud to the premises of the client.

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