Propensity to scale and resilience driving uptake of cloud, say AWS executives

Puneet Chandok and Rahul Sharma of Amazon Web Services (AWS) talk about how the pandemic shifted gears for cloud adoption across Indian businesses and the public sector.
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Amazon Web Services(AWS), the cloud computing arm of US-headquartered Amazon, is all set to launch its second infrastructure region in India this year in Hyderabad. It already has 26 Edge locations in the country and seven AWS Cloud Connect locations.

The platform has witnessed an uptick in cloud adoption across startups, SMBs, enterprise companies, as well as the public sector due to a push for digital adoption as a result of the pandemic. AWS also launched its suite of software targeted at SMBs, the Amazon Digital Suite, in April 2021 as part of the company’s goal to digitise 10 million SMBs by 2025. 

In its Q1 2022 earnings reported on Friday, AWS saw its net sales grow 37 percent year on year to $18.4 billion, at an annualised sales run rate of $74 billion. 

According to a recent report published by the Synergy Research Group looking at the revenue share of various public cloud players for Q4 of 2021, AWS continues to dominate the South and Southeast Asia region, with Microsoft’s Azure coming a close second. 

In an interview with YourStory, Puneet Chandok, President of Commercial Business – AISPL, AWS India and South Asia, said the public cloud provider has witnessed a rise in migration and modernisation requests from businesses. Rahul Sharma, President of Public Sector – AISPL, AWS India and South Asia, added that the pandemic has also led to uptake by the government in key areas such as health, agriculture, citizen services, and other sectors.

Excerpts from the interview: 

YourStory (YS): How has the pandemic changed the way businesses think about cloud strategy?

Puneet Chandok (PC): COVID was a bit of a rehearsal for the kind of world we are entering, which is going to be more dynamic and complex than anything we have seen before. This world requires agility.

I think Indian companies have realised that business built on the cloud will come out of the crisis stronger as they do not have technical debt to slow them down, and they have the ability to ramp up or reduce their capacity. Secondly, businesses now understand that technology, digital adoption and cloud are no longer optional. The third aspect is that digital transformation plans which were built over quarters and years are now being done in weeks and months, delivering real impact on the ground. 

YS: How has the public sector taken to cloud adoption, especially in the light of COVID? 

Rahul Sharma (RS): The best way to look at cloud and adoption of technology going forward is to make it experiential and iterate. That's how we help the government understand and adopt new technology, not through massive platform builds but by way of small experiments around every domain area that we work in.

The rollout of the New Education Policy (NEP) is going to be a game-changer in education. The answer is not to build a monolith platform for India, but to have small interventions across student learning, teacher learning, teacher training, skilling, etc. The idea would be to take smaller experiments in every one of these areas. 

And that's our approach across all of these national platforms, whether it is agriculture, healthcare, or transportation – our endeavour is to work closely with government stakeholders and to show them what the cloud can do.

The pandemic has shown the way some of these platforms have scaled. Some of them were built in days. The mindset is now to work with the government to show them that it has to be done in a very agile, experiential, and accurate manner. 

I would also like to give the example of C-DAC’s eSanjeevaniOPD platform for teleconsultation service, to roll it out in 19 days. It has scaled to serve more than 17,000 patients a day across 28 states and has served more than one million patients so far. 

YS: Among businesses, what are some of the use cases you have seen? Which verticals have shown greater adoption?

PC: I will give you some examples of sectors that have been scaling up and a couple of new sectors that have turned exciting. 

Financial services as a sector has been constantly innovative. It started with insurance and banks have caught on. 

Axis Bank is a terrific example – they partnered with AWS to build their digital banking service, including opening accounts online which takes less than six minutes. To date, they have migrated 15 percent of the bank’s application on AWS and they are aiming to get to 70 percent on the cloud in the next 24 months. 

RBL Bank started its journey with AWS in 2020. They migrated 60-plus mission-critical applications to AWS from on-prem data centres, including retail assets, branch banking, business banking, HR, and customer-facing sites to drive agility.

Financial services across insurance, banking, and fintech have seen a lot of growth.

Another sector is automotive. Ashok Leyland has seen a 40 percent uplift in data processing speed in key performance indicators since their migration to AWS. They are also using AWS tools for their connected telematics platform on AWS.

Media and entertainment have grown. We all watch IPL and HotStar has grown as a sandbox of innovation. Manufacturing is another sector that has moved fast due to the pandemic. Apollo Tires has gone all-in with AWS to digitally transform their business.

Some sectors have become even more exciting after the pandemic and one of them is gaming. If you look at most of the gaming businesses in India, Dream11, FanFight, Mobile Premier League (MPL), they are all building on AWS. 

Healthcare has grown faster after the pandemic with startups such as HealthifyMe, 1MG, Dozee. There are many, many healthcare startups and businesses that are building solutions and innovating diagnostics, patient care, telemedicine and vaccination drives. 

YS: What are the initiatives AWS has been working on with the public sector?

RS: We made a significant investment in the public sector about two years ago, among the largest by AWS in Asia-Pacific.

In October 2020, we announced the NITI Aayog Cloud Innovation Centre, the 13th in the world but the first one globally in which AWS was working with a national government body. We also partnered with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in January2021 to launch the Quantum Computing Applications Lab to accelerate quantum-computing led research and development. 

India was also the first country to roll out the AWS Startup Ramp programme globally in July 2021 to accelerate startups focused on public sector customers. The programme was launched in Southeast Asia and South Korea subsequently. 

We have onboarded multiple startups under the programme, across civic-tech, gov-tech, agritech, healthtech, smart cities, energy and utilities, including the likes of TraceX, Whrrl, and We Got Utility Solutions. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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