Digital transformation is a much-discussed and according to some its a hyped term. But, whatever you may say or call, the reality is human lives are getting more and more depended upon technology around us. I personally feel that digital or tech have really added significant value in our respective lives. When we talk about digital, we must acknowledge the contributions of Cloud.
techies may call this hyper-convergence or hybrid clouds or whatever, but the fact remains that digital infrastructure around us has transformed itself through cloud-driven. And according to my limited exposure in the technology domain, it is about the journey of data between the data centre and the device and back. Well, this phenomenon can we articulately understood by a techie and that too from someone who is part of the epicentre of Cloud.
Yes, VMware, as an organization is considered as one of the core drivers of modern-day digital infrastructure and cloud journey (from 1995 to now), can be well understood by looking at VMware.
In an exclusive interaction with Faiz Askari of SMEStreet, Mohit Arora, Senior Director, Commercial & Government Sales, VMware India highlighted his overall observation on rapid technology adoption in the COVID-19 days.
Faiz Askari: Can you share a brief overview of VMware’s journey in India so that we may connect VMware’s relevance in today’s context?
Mohit Arora – VMware started operations in 1998; it is the 22nd year of our existence. And as a company, we have evolved from the primary compute virtualization product, which we came up within 1998 – 1999. And we revolutionized the way IT is consumed. So basically, virtualization of computing, the product was called vSphere. And that was a single product then and over these years. Today, we have a very vast portfolio of solutions, and we have become relevant for all types of industry verticals. We have hundreds of thousands of customers I would say across various countries, we operate out of more than 50 countries and we have more than 30,000 employees today working with VMware in many countries and multiple functions.
The most exciting bit is the way we help our customers in terms of their IT vision. And we came up with this idea of helping our customers using any application on any cloud, on any device. Our focus has been to make this platform are these three parts of our vision, which is any Application, Any Cloud and Any device, richer in terms of features functionality, by inorganic growth by acquiring companies. We felt it would be relevant for this vision, and also by a considerable investment in our Research, Development and Engineering. And today, this portfolio, we call it as we help our customers in building a foundation for digital transformation. These are the three things that you need to digitally transform any enterprise because the enterprise is all about applications. So, we help you build and run these applications. When we say run these applications, you can run it on any cloud. So, once you have applications which are modern and these are running on any platform, then obviously what you need is connected and protected. So how do we connect these applications, basically the networking piece of it, which is, which is very, very critical? From your data centre to the edge, how do you connect all these things? And the last and most significant bit is how these applications are consumed on the devices of your users. So, we have this; I would say a place of solution starting from the data centre to the device.
Now, this, in a nutshell, is our portfolio, our portfolio today, if you look at solution areas, we have five major solution areas. I will take a minute to explain all five together.
So, it starts with the application; what we call is Modern Applications. So we don’t talk about applications of the past which are like 3 tier monolithic applications, legacy applications we talked about. You can write your applications, ready for Cloud or you can look at rewriting or modernizing the application by putting them on containers and running it through Kubernetes. And we have the expertise for all sorts of technology available today to help you run container-based applications and manage those applications as well. You could do microservices on applications, you could, you could deliver the best of the best experience in terms of DevOps, using our portfolio. So, there is a lot of rich, feature functionality in the modern app, or platform, I would say, a solution area that we have, then we look at the multi-cloud. So, when the whole, it started evolving. The only way to run enterprise applications was on-prem data centres. So, the focus has been then to modernize those data centres and make it make them more agile, make them more resilient, make them more available. So, all those things have been happening. As an organization, we looked at a lot of things far ahead of its time, such as offering features like setting up the private Cloud of your own. We came up with the idea of software-defined data centres, data centre, where all pillars of a data centre starting with computing, storage, network, and security, everything can be defined to a software layer. And then you build an automation layer on top of it, so that you start consuming your own IT or your own IT infrastructure, as a cloud, as you would do on a public cloud. And then came, the advent of public clouds and people started looking at the public cloud as an option. And then the concept of hybrid cloud came into existence, and that is timely, became even more relevant helping our customers to run these workloads not just on-prem but also on Cloud and manage it seamlessly through a single pane of glass.
- Further to it, what has happened in the last couple of years is that there’s not just one Cloud, there are multiple clouds like, AWS one, Google, IBM, early, so many clouds. And there are no applications, for further reasons known best to the Enterprises. They decided they have decided, and they’ve chosen to run some workloads on a particular cloud, some of the other Cloud. It is a truly multi-cloud kind of environment that is evolving today. And again, we are playing a vital role in terms of helping customers, first to build that foundation for running a cloud on-prem. And then the same foundation is capable of taking them to these different options of public clouds, called as multi-cloud. Now we have Cloud we have applications, and we spoke about networks. We have another platform called Virtual Cloud Networks. This is the whole plethora of stuff. That you need to how do you define your networks through software?
Faiz Askari: Coming on to today’s scenario of COVID hit the world. We experienced a sudden and phenomenal mass adoption of digital technologies for survival at every level. As a technology provider and tech solutions architect, please share an overview based on your experience.
Mohit Arora – If you look at what happened in March, and when first time our Prime Minister Modi announced lockdown, the biggest challenge for any enterprise was to make sure that the employees of the organization remain productive wherever they’re working from. They had to respond to it very quickly. And that’s where, you know, VMware got into action. And believe me, those were the days when initially, most of our technical people were working 24/7 and helping our customers, leverage technology to enable remote workplace as you are aware that we have a very strong portfolio of solutions around work from home. Some of the customers had already embarked on this journey of allowing their customers to work from home. Some of them like IT companies or services they had this 10-20% of their employees who were enabled to work from home. It was very easy for them; it was just to expand it to 100% of employees. The same technology can be used for virtual desktops or secured container-based access to mobile devices can access enterprise applications. So that was easy, but there were a lot of organizations who had not thought-through of, you know, this kind of technology then. And they were seriously under pressure to find a way to do things. One two things which they had to do one is given access to enterprise applications to these employees who were sitting remotely. And obviously, they need a device to do it, it could be their device or they had to ship devices to their places to make them productive. A second part was they were all worried about the security of these enterprise applications. Now, while allowing people to access your enterprise architecture, your code business, from anywhere in the world, through insecure Wi-Fi systems or data systems, data networks, it was very critical that the security layer is not compromised. And that is where our Enterprise Mobility Platform our solution, we gave away a lot of trial licenses to these customers initially, we helped them set up pilots for a smaller, set of people and see performance and usability flexibility and all and quickly helped them adopt this new normal of being able to, you know, remotely become productive. This was the first phase when people responded to it and started adapting it. And I think like you rightly said, now has been six, seven months into this pandemic era. I know a few segments altogether. You know what lockdowns like hospitality or retail, there are a lot of challenges there. But other segments they found digital ways of offering these services to the customers also. And a lot of innovation happened under the gap of this crisis. In addition, people had to find a way to move to the Cloud. So, if you look at some of the reports published by IDC, it says 64% of the Indian firms, Indian companies are now looking at Cloud very seriously, which was not the case before the pandemic. Now, what is happening is that due to inaccessibility of data centres, due to uncertainty around the delivery of hardware, due to uncertainty of, you know, having the right kind of skills available to do different tasks very fast. People started looking at the option of the Cloud very seriously. And that’s again, companies like VMware are helping customers to move their workloads from on-prem to Cloud are expanding Cloud with new applications and things like that.
Faiz Askari – Cloud is becoming a game-changer and it’s gaining momentum in India. But India is mainly driven through MSMEs or SMEs where technology adoption and understanding is still limited. On such a scenario, how is VMware bringing their solution? Also, how easy it is for a non-IT person to adopt this for his or her business?
Mohit Arora – Cloud means different things to different people because of a lot of ambiguity around what Cloud can do, what Cloud cannot do, which applications can run in the Cloud, how Cloud operates security and so many things. Especially when I talk about companies, which have very lean IT teams, it makes even more sense for them to look at the Cloud as a platform to run their applications. Now applications are existing, and some other SMEs would have their customized applications because that is their business model. And these applications more often than not, that are already virtualized, because as I told you, VMware has been in existence for the last 22 years. So, compute virtualization is now something which has given people don’t use physical infrastructure to run applications. Now, if you are running your application on your servers, and using our technology called VSphere, which is the ESXI virtualization, we have made a very easy path for you to take you to the Cloud. And this path is as easy as cut and paste. So, you cut the workload from here and paste it on the Cloud. So that is the kind of simplicity we are offering to our customers by having partnerships with all types of cloud providers, not just the big ones, but also the small ones. Like if you look at SMEs, they might not be able to afford to go to say an AWS with reserved instance, they would want just say 10 – 20 VMs. And they would like to a smaller cloud provider within India, local somebody, like entity which was neck magic earlier. These are all VMware partners, we call them as VMware cloud partners, they offer you VMs which are ready to be consumed so you can pick up, your workload which is running on-prem, or you want to expand don’t have to buy any more servers, no storage, start using the power of law. This is one way of doing it. Another thing is that say, desktop, people started looking at virtual desktop infrastructure. Initially, the era was that people used to buy the complete infrastructure to run your desktop like server storage on-prem and run it. Today, there is something called ‘desktop as a service’. We have tie-ups with the partners through whom we offer our VDI solution on a subscription basis, wherein you just need to subscribe for the number of instances you want to run. And you don’t have to bother about procuring any infrastructure, and everything is like on tap available to you as a service. Our mobility platform today, we offer it as a SaaS-based platform. So again, you don’t have to invest in infrastructure or buy perpetual licenses. You can just buy device-based licenses, as in when you want to ramp it up, you buy more, and you can have all those flexibilities available. Cloud gives you flexibility in two terms, one obviously, lean IT organizations don’t need to invest in people resources to run it. Secondly, it offers you a subscription-based model, which is the key thing today, especially when SMEs are struggling for liquidity. They don’t want to be asset-heavy; they want to have OPEX based, consumption of it.
Faiz Askari – My second point is related to another aspect of working with SMEs, I would like to discuss the budget factor. Most of the technology companies also try to address this issue by providing them with better financing solutions for their technology spending. Please unleash VMware’s stand on this aspect.
Mohit Arora – Yes, of course, we are constantly making an attempt to, solve problems that our customers have, whether it is a technical problem or it’s a commercial problem, and a portfolio always has been, balanced in terms of how do we optimize the cost of running it, and at the same time, improve your efficiency. And now in scenarios where companies have decided to go asset-light, and they don’t want to buy perpetual licenses, as an organization, we are shifting our focus towards subscription-based licensing. We are offering almost all you know, the technologies that we have, whether it is on the desktop side or security side, or in terms of new products that we are launching. Most of these products are coming with the option of subscription wherein the customer doesn’t have to have a heavy investment in buying a license and then, deploying it and running it, it’s all changing. Consumption-based licensing or subscription-based licensing is what we have started, selling in the market. And that’s how we’re able to address the problem of liquidity.
Faiz Askari – So now coming on to your India footprint, how big is your Indian customer base, especially if you can give us some insights on the small and medium.
Mohit Arora – I wouldn’t have the exact data in terms of several customers, but I can only tell you that we are leading in the areas where we operate, whether it is SDDC (Software-Defined Data Center Platform). We are clear leaders by far in terms of all the features and functionalities that we offer through our portfolio. If you look at our portfolio of end-user computing, Rashmi can share more details, whatever we have global, but I don’t think we’ll have a to the extent of India consumers. I would say when we talk about fortune, you know, a thousand companies 99% of the customers in fortune 1000 are our customers. Any large enterprise in any different vertical, whether it is banking, finance, or it is telecom or Government, you will find that some of the other footprints of VMware would be there in their data centre.
Faiz Askari – Is there any industry segment that will emerge as a preferred or priority sector for VMware, especially in the post COVID scenario.
Mohit Arora – I believe almost all industry verticals are equally focused on consumption of technology to address the new normal, and it’s not going to be like this. It’s not like this will be faster and BSFI will be lesser than IT companies, all of them are at different levels, I would say junction in terms of deployment of this technology, but one thing is very clear that the companies which will not be able to get the right technology in place, they will have difficulty in surviving. It’s like everybody’s running after technology now, to make sure that they can survive and thrive in the current scenario. Government is a big consumer of technology, and we see our state government business and PSU business also looking excellent because they can continue with their technology journey in terms of digitization or terms of remote working. In Government also we see now, how it is effectively being rolled out. I would say that almost all industry segments, industry verticals are equally focused on the deployment of technology. And as we say digital transformation is not just for one industry, but it is for the overall business, every business is focusing on that.
Faiz Askari – And to conclude, I would also like to hear about your observations on the Government’s proactive role in countering COVID Impact and pushing the use of technology. Do you see that the government’s push towards digital is also improvising your success ratio of convincing the new customers?
Mohit Arora – Of course. Digitization is no more an option; it is a necessity now. So, whatever you do today like I can give you an example; 10th and 12th class mark sheets, now in our days, we used to get those hard copies of mark sheets. Today, all these Mark sheets are given through Digi locker. So, imagine the kind of transformation that is happening in every aspect, whether it is healthcare, it is education, it is citizen services, good governance, everything is getting digital. Today sitting at home, you’re applying for a driving license, you’re applying for a passport, you’re applying for an Aadhar card etc. So, government adaptation of digitization has fueled or accelerated digitization and various other segments. And, and these segments can’t survive if they don’t, move at the speed at which digitization is happening with the government.