VMware, a Dell subsidiary and global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure helps customers run, manage, connect, and secure application on any cloud to any device in the big digital transformation. In an exclusive interview to the Times of India, VMware Chief Operating Officer, Customer Operations,
and VMware India Managing Director,
talk about the company’s strategy to partner Digital India at VMworld, 2017, an event that brought the industry’s top leaders at Las Vegas to shape the future of digital business.
What is your roadmap for India? How do you plan to make inroads into the Indian market? While VMware has its third largest R&D operations in India, there’s still a perception that India is ostrich-like in shifting core business functions on cloud platform.
: Our top investment verticals in India include financial services, banking, insurance and telcos. At least 50 top banks in India and at least three major telcom players in the country are VMware customers. We are not just into server virtualization, but also into network virtualization, NSX and have begun to see good traction there as well.
Is Telco the second biggest vertical for you?
Telco is the second biggest vertical and is consistent with the rest of the world. Trends we are seeing is that telcos in India have begun spending more in adopting virtualization and that is the same globally.
If India wants to adopt Fifth Generation (5G) mobile network, is virtualization the key?
Yes. There is a big wave of modernization in telcos over the last three years. Whether it’s coming out of those contracts or moving towards a commodity cloud architecture to bring down cost, new entrants have forced everybody to relook at costs. Now, they are weighing towards a legacy UNIX infrastructure and moving towards X86 moderate cloud privileges which is VMware’s core. India took eight years to get 3G. One of the two things will happen – either India is going to be on 4G for a long time, or there could be providers who skip the entire 4G Generation and go directly to 5G. But telcos will virtualize network functions which will be a big growth opportunity for VMware.
Could you elaborate on 50 financial institutions and banks that have taken up their own 3-Tier business. Is VMware with all of them?
: I think there is no reason why VMware cannot be the de facto solution for every bank and every telco in India. And many companies take messages from what other companies are doing in other markets. And it is important for those two verticals to be strong, both at the data centre level and at end-point level. The opportunity that telco has to offer is beyond just IT. Network virtualization is the big opportunity for VMware in India.
Under the banner of PM Modi’s Digital India and ‘Cloud first and Mobile first, what changes have you witnessed with regard to government projects adopting virtualization?
: Yes, most definitely. India is currently seeing a widespread adoption of virtualization. In fact if you look at it, for the first time, there are a set of empanel vendors who are allowed to provide cloud infrastructure services for government projects. This did not exist before. India is moving heavily towards cloud, specifically public cloud. They are even promoting the concept of a commodity G Cloud, which is a community cloud purely for the government.
Everyone is talking about cloud and PSUs. What’s happening on the ground?
: Of last 11-12 request for proposals (RFPs) that I have seen, five of them have come out specifically saying they want to be in the public cloud space. A lot are using mobile to reach consumers. When you hear either government officials or PM Modi saying, cloud first, it does not mean public cloud. They may be investing in a private cloud too. Public cloud doesn’t necessarily mean they are moving to Azure, AWS, Google or any other local public cloud. It could also be a private cloud. If you look at the government’s current cloud infrastructure which is supported by NIC, a very large portion of that is run by VMware. Remember, this is the largest India cloud by the government and it is massive.
Do you think the new Digital India which is selling virtualization to the core, easier or still tough in the government sector?
The Indian government still does not get into specifics. In their RFPs, they basically specify what outcome needs to be delivered and the decision of using virtualization is typically taken by vertical storage integrators (VSI). While VSIs do take decisions, there’s not a single project which goes ahead without virtualization.
The big data, for example Aadhar. Does that also go onto the cloud?
No, all that wouldn’t go on the cloud. The government won’t allow that. Each of these individual organizations can build private clouds, keeping in mind that private cloud is used for better efficiency, automation and productivity. Private cloud basically means that the government fences it off and public can’t get access to it.
How do you plan to leverage the Central government which is high on digitization for a bigger footprint in India?
The ‘Mobile First’ policy is fascinating. There are a number of states like Andhra Pradesh, which have provided tabs to officers. And basically it is like saying, citizens should not come to us, we should be going to citizens. AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu wants to leverage Silicon Valley to help him with modernization. He gets digitization, he gets mobile and you know we are optimistic that other Indian states would follow suit.
India is not adopting virtualization at the speed with which the West or China are adopting. What do you think could be the reason?
In India, technology adoption is very top heavy. SMB tends to be very conservative. Skipping the tech generations, Telcos have gone ahead. If you look at mobile, even before people started talking omni-channel in western world, India had omni-channel presence. The mid-market in India probably hasn’t adopted it as much as the mid-market in the US. We are into education building and awareness building at the grassroots in India. Our footprints in the commercial business are more than double in the last three years.
The Digital India programme is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. What is your perspective on its progress?
Digital India is one of the biggest government programs in the world. It aims to bring about sustainable and inclusive societal transformation through digital technologies. We are very excited to see the progress so far that the government has made in this regard. It is a steady process and we are hopeful the government gets to achieve its vision. As you are aware, Digital India aims to bridge the gap between the digital haves and have-nots by channeling Aadhaar, eSign, digital lockers, Aadhaar Pay and BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) to offer citizen-centric services. The tripod of 1 billion digital identities, 1 billion mobile devices and more than 250 million bank accounts is set to unleash a digital revolution in India.