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Cloud is Gaining Momentum for Accelerating Business Growth of SMEs

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Trends like smartphone adoption, internet and online banking penetration, the explosion of digital commerce, and adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications are catalysts for the acceleration of digital transformation among SMEs, and driving their IT and cloud adoption. In an exclusive conversation between Mr. Navdeep Manaktala, Director and Head, Digital Native Business, Amazon Internet Services and Faiz Askari of SMEtreet, it came out that Cloud-based solutions are gaining great acceptance among Indian businesses especially SMEs.

Here are the edited excerpts:

Faiz Askari: How is Cloud getting accepted in the SME/SMB domain?

Navdeep Manaktala: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are constantly looking for ways to increase their customer base and topline growth, while keeping their costs low, especially with regards to capital expenditure (capex). Innovative startups are giving consumers more access to digital services, and customers are demanding the same from SMEs. As a result, SMEs are increasingly looking to cloud for technology solutions to help them be more agile and competitive. 

Adopting a cloud strategy can help SMEs accelerate technology-led innovation, enhance productivity, open up new markets, lower costs and compete for market share against bigger corporations, without large and risky investments. The availability of cloud services opens doors for SMEs to access the same resources that were once considered to be only the domain of large enterprises, without the need for physical IT infrastructure and overheads. Cloud also reduces complexities by providing solution frameworks that not only levels the playing field but gives fast-moving moving small businesses an edge in the market.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers SMEs scalability, reliability, ease of use, enhanced security and compliance, and an effective pay-as-you-go cost model that enhances affordability by focusing on operating expense (opex), compared to a more expensive and riskier capex model. 

FA: What are the trends you are witnessing in the adoption of Cloud?

NM: India has among the highest SME concentrations in the world, and this segment has emerged as one of the fastest growing in the country. Trends like smartphone adoption, internet and online banking penetration, the explosion of digital commerce, and adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications are catalysts for the acceleration of digital transformation among SMEs, and driving their IT and cloud adoption.

As the leading cloud provider for SMEs in their digital transformation journey, AWS sees their technology usage evolving at a rapid pace. As they mature, SMEs are migrating their websites to cloud and leveraging cloud for storage, and are now moving business critical solutions like SAP, core server workloads, and key applications to the cloud. SMEs in India are also actively exploring data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and IoT (Internet of Things) services integration to deliver a richer and more engaging customer experience. Interactive media services, the integration of ML in tracking and analyzing customer conversations across different interactions like conversational agents and call centres, are some examples.

How important is the Indian SME market for AWS? 

We recognize that SMEs are unique – they have the ability to move quickly, test new ideas, and bring their products and services to market faster than large enterprises. Many SMEs are driven by entrepreneurial zeal and are ambitious to succeed in India, and expand to global markets too.

At AWS, we obsess over our customers. We recognize the particular needs of SMEs and offer dedicated and tailor-made initiatives – ranging from events, free tiers, AWS Cloud credits, training modules, to easily deployable migration packages – to enable them adopt cloud computing and be successful in their digital transformation journey. SMEs are a very important customer segment for AWS in India.

Navdeep Manaktala, Amazon Internet services

What are the key USPs of AWS for the Indian SMEs? 

There are multiple ways in which AWS provides value to SMEs. AWS has more cloud services, and more features and functionality within those services, than any other cloud provider. AWS has continually expanded our services to support virtually any cloud workload, and has more than 175 fully featured services, including compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, application development, deployment, and management.

SMEs have distinct challenges as they embark on their technology adoption and digital transformation journey, including limited technology awareness, cost and security perceptions, implementation concerns, and lack of skilled technology talent. AWS addresses these in multiple ways:

  • With our growing base of channel partners, AWS offers customized initiatives such as AWS Cloud Day events, Proof of Concepts (POCs), Free Tiers and Credit Offers, and Migration Packages to ensure the customer’s journey to the cloud is smooth and stress-free.
  • AWS regularly hosts customer-focused cloud awareness and events across many cities and towns. 
  • We offer customers easy access to training through training modules delivered directly or through partners. AWS provides easily accessible content and use-cases for scenarios ranging from disaster recovery, storage and website on cloud through to mission-critical application migrations that customers can leverage on-demand. 
  • AWS has created ready-to-use and deploy migration packages for the most common migration use-cases like SAP, core server workloads, and key business applications, which can be delivered by our consulting partners. We have strong ISV partnerships to deliver industry and vertical-specific functional and business solutions. 
  • We enhance the customer’s ability to experiment through lowering the cost of experimentation and providing promotional credits. This helps ensure that customers can run their workloads on AWS without worrying about the cost of failure.

What level of preparedness is required for any SME who wishes to adopt cloud-based solutions? 

Pre-migration planning is key to a successful cloud strategy, and a cloud readiness assessment is an important first-step. Such an assessment should cover:

  • Establishing the business case for cloud, and outlining the tangible benefits that cloud can deliver.
  • Categorizing workloads and identifying desired outcomes, mapped to the capabilities of the cloud service provider.
  • Establishing a cloud operating model, for example, defining how the organization will function after the cloud migration is completed, including internal workflows, processes, operations, and cultural aspects.
  • Estimating the timelines and budgets for a cloud migration.
  • Conducting a portfolio analysis of all applications to determine which applications or workloads should be moved to cloud first.
  • Testing the cloud architecture and data migration adequately and having a disaster recovery plan in place prior to data migration.
  • Creating robust cloud security policies and provisions for success post-migration.


What is AWS’s advice for businesses that still think that cloud security is still a challenge?

Using cloud means organisations don’t need to manage the security of physical servers or storage devices. Instead, they use software-based security tools to monitor and protect the flow of information into and of out of the cloud. At AWS, we have a “shared responsibility” model with the customer, where AWS is responsible for “security of the cloud”, i.e. the infrastructure that runs all of the services offered in AWS Cloud, and the customer is responsible for “security in the cloud”, i.e. building secure applications. We provide best practices documents, encryption tools, and other guidance our customers can use to deliver application-level security measures.

AWS enables SME customers to benefit from data centers and network architecture designed to meet the requirements of some of the world’s most security-sensitive organizations. We offer more security capabilities and layers than customers can find anywhere else, including on-premises data centers. While we are constantly delivering new capabilities to further anticipate threats at scale, we consistently hear from customers that moving to AWS is helping them maintain a stronger security posture than their prior on-premises footprint, allowing them to confront the dynamic threats they are facing. This is particularly beneficial for SMEs, as they can shift their time and resources to innovate in their business, improve customer experiences, achieve higher levels of agility, uncover new business models and avenues of growth, and scale fast to address new market opportunities.

Faiz Askari

Faiz is a mediapreneur specialised in Small Business and Technology domain.

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