Bikram Singh Bedi, Managing Director, Google Cloud India

In a bid to overcome the disruption caused by the pandemic and ensure long-term sustainability, organisations are embarking on a digital transformation journey to make themselves more agile and build new capabilities to boost resilience. A cloud-first strategy will play a key role in enabling businesses to achieve this transformation. Google Cloud has been providing technology and infrastructure support to Indian enterprises to enable them to build and scale their infrastructure digitally. The company recently announced the launch of its new cloud region in Delhi NCR to further serve customers and the public sector in India and across Asia Pacific. This is the second Google Cloud region for the company in India, its tenth in Asia Pacific, and the 26th in the world. In an exclusive interview with tele.net, Bikram Singh Bedi, managing director, Google Cloud India, talks about the company’s operations, its strategies, offerings and expansion plans, as well as the evolution of the public cloud segment in India and future trends in this space…

What are the key trends shaping the Indian cloud market?

India is witnessing a rapid uptake of digital technologies as more enterprises are turning to technology to stay connected and engaged in the new normal and to enable future growth. Digital transformation will be the new foundation for the future and there will be an unavoidable shift for businesses, government agencies, healthcare systems, and educational institutions. According to a forecast by Gartner, end-user spending on public cloud services in India will total $4.4 billion in 2021, growing 31.4 per cent from 2020.

With the onset of the pandemic, we have seen a rapid upsurge in the adoption of digital tools. Individuals and organisations have moved towards videoconferencing from in-person meetings. This transformation will act as a catalyst to trigger the unavoidable shift for enterprises, government services, healthcare systems and education towards the digital space. Furthermore, cloud computing will continue to develop exponentially in the new normal since it is cost-effective, simple to use and versatile in meeting capacity requirements. Our aim at Google Cloud is to accelerate every organisation’s capacity to change via data-driven innovation by providing the finest infrastructure, platform, industry solutions and digital transformation capabilities.

How has Google Cloud’s journey in the Indian market been so far? What are your key focus areas in India?

India is one of the world’s fastest growing cloud markets and is a strategic market for us. We have been investing in people and partnerships in the country to grow our reach here. Google Cloud has been employing top talent and positioning the right people in front of consumers. We have appointed some senior leaders in the past one year.

Recently, in mid-July 2021, we launched our second cloud region in India to assist customers and local partners in building a digital-first future. Since the launch of our Mumbai cloud region in 2017, we have been expanding our local infrastructure in response to customer needs. We support businesses in every industry, from banking to manufacturing to media and entertainment; and we are committed to helping companies of all sizes succeed in their digital transformation efforts.

Some of our key customers in India are Groww, InMobi, Eros Now, Voot, ShareChat and Wipro. These customers are leveraging Google Cloud for various purposes in order to scale their infrastructure and businesses. Recently, we also announced a partnership with Reliance Jio to aid the country’s digital transformation.

We also intend to build a strong partner organisation. We are engaging with strategic partners to expand cloud technology availability. Some of our key partners are Tata Communications, NTT Netmagic, Cloud4C and Searce. We recently also announced an extended partnership with SAP.

How will the launch of your second cloud region in India help the business? Do you plan to launch more such regions in the future?

With the Delhi NCR cloud region launch, we mark our 10th region in Asia Pacific and 26th globally. While this is a big step for the company, the cloud region’s key beneficiaries remain our customers in the country. Low latency and the excellent performance of cloud-based applications and data will benefit Google Cloud clients in India with this new region. The region is designed for high availability, with three availability zones to safeguard from service interruptions. It also includes a portfolio of key products including Compute Engine, App Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud Spanner and BigQuery.

How is the competitive landscape in India different from that in your other markets? What are your key strategies to manage competition?

As we slowly emerge from the crisis of the past 18 months, we are turning our focus to helping Indian businesses accelerate their digital transformation, deepening our commitment to India’s digitalisation and economic recovery. We are also seeing strong growth through our broad network of partners, with our channel partner ecosystem growing over five times and our indirect channel revenue more than doubling in the past two years.

Our key differentiators are our flexibility and openness. We help customers develop the strongest commitment to multi-cloud and open cloud. We are the leader in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) domains. Our multi-cloud strategy provides companies the freedom to use their preferred cloud for each workload while providing consistency and access to non-stop innovation through technologies such as Anthos for application hosting and centralised management, Apigee for API management, and BigQuery and Looker for analytics.

What are the key challenges that you face in the Indian market?

The pandemic has adversely impacted business continuity and made organisations re-examine the way they use technology. It has accelerated the adoption of technology by enterprises, and today cloud computing is helping customers accelerate the journey of becoming digital companies. This includes providing platforms, infrastructure and industry solutions. Google is ramping up its capabilities. We are also implementing a multi-cloud strategy and promoting open-source platforms to help accelerate customers’ digital journeys.

With organisations and businesses rapidly deploying remote systems and networks to support staff working from home, fraudsters are also taking advantage of increased security vulnerabilities to steal data and cause disruptions. To address this, Google has been focusing on its zero-trust turnkey security offering, BeyondCorp enterprises, for businesses in India.

We have also scaled up collaborations with partner communities to deploy cloud technologies. This includes the partnership with Tata Communications, which is enabling organisations to deploy and access Google Cloud services. Another partner, Netmagic, is helping enterprises optimise their business workloads on Google Cloud and accelerate their transformation journey.

What are your views on the level of cloud adoption among small and medium enterprises (SMEs)? How do you see this segment growing in the future?

Businesses are always focused on their core strengths. Hiring managed services, such as cloud sourcing, not only reduces operating expenses, but also improves efficiency. SMEs represent a key market for such cloud-based offerings. Cloud computing is emerging as a new promising paradigm in outsourced technology. However, cloud adoption is in its initial state of growth, specifically among the SMEs of developing nations such as India.

Going forward, how do you see the Indian cloud market evolving? What will be the key growth drivers?

India is one of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial countries in Asia Pacific, and in our work with companies and organisations across the country we have seen education ministries embark on large-scale digital capacity-building efforts to help teachers with tools and resources for remote teaching. We have witnessed first-hand how Covid-19 has supercharged the shift in retail to e-commerce with people moving some of their shopping online. And we have seen online banking and digital payment adoption rising to historic highs.

With the rapid adoption of new technologies across the country, it is safe to assume that the cloud will become the bedrock of every organisation in the future. Businesses and enterprises will demand more applications to be hosted online via the cloud platform, and we anticipate significant growth in the AI and ML industry throughout the region. Post-Covid digitalisation in companies will increase rapidly, fuelling innovations in healthcare, online education, retail, supply chain and logistics, and e-commerce.

What are Google Cloud India’s plans and strategies for the next three years?

Google Cloud is dedicated to assisting India’s commercial and economic recovery. We have made it apparent that we intend to diversify our reach in the country with the establishment of our second cloud region here. Furthermore, Google Cloud’s innovative products, focused go-to-market strategy and growing ecosystem are the driving forces for continuous growth.

At Google Cloud, we are putting all our efforts forward to help our employees and customers work smoothly and stay connected. And we continue to work tirelessly on these and other initiatives to support our users, customers and communities.