Bikram Singh Bedi, managing director, Google Cloud India, talks about his company’s biggest distinctions in the Indian cloud market and why working with the government for adoption of technology in the public sector is a key focus area. Edited excerpts:
What is Google’s strategy to become a market leader in the cloud segment?
Our strategy is built on three important pillars. We have ramped up hiring for customer-facing role, go-to market teams and technical roles. Our second pillar is our partners. They are going to expand and mature with a focus on independent partnership programmes aimed towards retailers, software vendors, etc. Third is our product. We will continue to expand our cloud regions globally in increased differentiation of our products and solutions and add new compliance certifications. That’s the strategy that we have globally and we are replicating that in India.
We have built our second region in India and now we are the only cloud provider in India which has cloud regions in separate seismic zones. The idea behind doing different cloud regions is that India is prone to earthquakes in certain seismic zones, so having your regions away from seismic zones is important.
It is very early days for India. If you see Gartner and IDC estimates, everyone is talking about hybrid clouds. Most large companies are going to focus on a hybrid cloud strategy. We have built [our strategy] around that. Our strategy for Anthos is clearly about saying that you can manage your cloud through any data centre if you manage it through Anthos.
Describe your plans considering you have now opened a second cloud region in the NCR.
We have been operating in the cloud space for the past 20 years. Google was born in the cloud. We have leveraged the same thing when we built our cloud platform. We have a lot of experience in maintaining this planet-scale infrastructure which is probably bigger than most companies.
As far as the second region is concerned, we have invested in it because we see a huge customer demand. In the last couple of quarters, our customers include large organisations like Jio which is building its 5G platform or traditional enterprises like Wipro running very large SAP infrastructure on Google Cloud or ShareChat which has one of the largest subscriber base in the country, tapping into over 160 million people. All of it runs on Google Cloud. Groww, which is in the regulated security space, and InMobi’s Glance run on Google Cloud.
We adapt the four pillars of strategy which we are building globally. First of all, we are helping to deliver a data cloud which has deep insights into your organisation. Then, we have an open cloud which has the flexibility to integrate across multiple providers, so you do not have the vendor lock when most cloud providers are proprietary to themselves. It is a huge differentiator that we bring to the market. It is based on the Google philosophy. A lot of the open source contributions have come from Google. Android is a contribution by Google to open source. We have the collaboration cloud which is to connect teams and accelerate workforce collaboration. It is vital as this world has changed over the last two years.
And, the last one is really giving customers a trusted cloud to ensure that their important data stays protected. Data cloud should be open, collaboration is critical and, of course, it needs to be secure.
What is your strategy to onboard more clients and increase market share?
The critical differentiators that we see in the Google Cloud are our infrastructure and technology. We have spoken about our 20 years of experience in the field. That shows in our products because these have been tested in Google for so many years and then brought out to the market.
Companies do not want to get into lock-in. When you get locked into a particular technology, it becomes detrimental to growth. We offer the best solution in the multicloud and hybrid vendor strategy. Anthos is just one example. We have another product BigQuery, which allows you to run database queries on data which may be sitting across different sources, including other clouds.
Sustainability is another clear differentiator. We are the cleanest cloud provider in the market and have been carbon neutral since 2007.
Our customised industry solutions are another big differentiator. We build first-party and package solutions. Currently, we are focusing on the following verticals: financial services, telecom, media and entertainment, gaming, retail and CPG, healthcare and life sciences, manufacturing and industry and public sector.
Security is also a key differentiator. Customers love the fact that they can use the same security tools which are built and used by Google. The last bit is about collaboration, with Google Workspace providing a cloud solution. While there are other collaborative tools that claim to be true cloud solutions, they are not. You see solutions being sold as cloud, but then you are also told that if you want better performance, then download the client on your desktop. The moment you do that, you open yourself to security risks.
How is Google making the most of cloud adoption in India?
Initially, when cloud started, it was about giving cheap compute and storage or quick compute and storage. Then it moved to running data centres better. Now, the journey has moved to “Can we help you in your digital transformation better?”And, that is where Google has a huge advantage as a differentiator. If you look at India, for example, we have seen a sharp increase in online banking and digital payment adoption. If you look at retail/ecommerce, people have significantly moved to shopping online. Covid-19 has supercharged the whole shift. Even the education ministry has embarked on large-scale digital support, building tools and resources for remote teaching.
The buck has moved and now there is a requirement for a strong technology partner to help them in their digital journey. Google can help them in that through data-led innovation and sustainable and industry-led solutions. For example, we have partnered very strongly with HDFC Bank in their digital journey. ShareChat was on an alternate Cloud platform and they decided to migrate during Covid-19. They have grown exponentially by taking value from not just Google Cloud but also from larger Google solutions.
You have got a standardisation, testing and quality certification (STQC) which enables you to work with PSUs. What kind of collaborations are you looking at?
We are very focused on the public sector. As Google, we already have lots of public sector engagements in India. Getting the STQC, the cloud service provider empanelment and the MeitY certification was step one towards that direction. You need all that to work with the public sector in India. A lot of public sector companies in power, BFSI, oil and gas and public finance sectors are now engaged with us to see how we can start to move workloads. The public sector has typically lagged a bit behind the private sector in terms of adoption of newer technology and we are working very closely with the Indian government to change that. We have also set up a dedicated public sector team in India for Google Cloud.
What is your strategy for India?
It is pivoted on the pillars of hiring great talent and adding value to customers. One value we carry in Google Cloud is customer empathy. How can we empathise and be close to the customer? We have hired a great team for that. We are going to continue our ecosystem of partners — system administrators and independent software vendors — because that is an area we will build in India and take to the world.
How is the India strategy different from your global one?
The solutions that we build for India are special and different. Building our second cloud region in India was India-specific. We do not build cloud regions in all the countries we operate in. But there was a requirement. We heard our customers telling us that they wanted a second region from the perspectives of geographic diversity and latency. In the gaming or the advertising space, the latency between Delhi and Mumbai is about 10 to 20 milliseconds. So, if we set up a cloud region in the northern part of the country, it will help us serve our customers better.
We have set up a very large R&D and engineering organisation in India. We are also focused on skill development and skill infrastructure. We run a couple of global programmes but we have such a huge talent base in the country that we have created significant parts of those programmes in India. We have something known as Google Cloud Skills Boost where we are committed to globally train 40 million people in cloud skills.