Twelve years ago, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud infrastructure-as-a-service arm of Amazon.com, was launched with the mantra of putting the customer first. While today, some of its closest competitors are battling for their share of the pie in the cloud, Amazon predicted the future of computing way ahead of its time, having the first-mover advantage in the cloud services space.
A recent data from Synergy Research Group shows that spend on cloud infrastructure services jumped 46% in Q4 2017 from the final quarter of 2016, with AWS clearly maintaining its dominant position with revenues that exceeded the next four closest competitors combined, including Microsoft, Google, IBM and Alibaba. It comes as no surprise then that AWS continued to hold a monopoly in the cloud services market for long.
While the global success story of AWS is not unknown, its India growth story continues to be equally appealing. At a mega Amazon event held in Mumbai earlier this month, Chandrashekhar Sankholkar, GM of Amazon Internet Services (AISPL), the Indian subsidiary of the Amazon Group, which undertakes the marketing of AWS Cloud services in India, tells CXOToday how AWS is driving India’s cloud growth story.
Startups, Big Enterprises Drive Growth
Tracing the dramatic growth of AWS’ business in India, he said, “We launched our AWS Asia Pacific (Mumbai) Region in June 2016 and ever since, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of customers in this region.”
Sankholkar noted that over the months, AWS acquired over hundreds of thousands of active customers in the country. The India region acted as a big boost in supporting the rapidly growing AWS customer base in India, giving them a faster service, and allowing them to keep data locally to satisfy any data sovereignty requirements.
“We also pride ourselves on the pace of innovation. We continue to innovate on behalf of our customers,” Sankholkar said, adding that today, India is one of AWS’s largest regions in the long term with prominent local players including Tata Motors, HDFC Life Insurance, Shaadi.com, NDTV, and Druva, to name a few.
Sankholkar observed that Amazon is seeing a great adoption of cloud services from both startups and large enterprises in India, claiming that 90 percent of the top 100 Indian startups use AWS. He gave the example of how one of its customers, Practo, connects 60 million patients to 200,000 doctors from 10,000 hospitals. Shaadi.com, a popular matrimonial site, and another customer of AWS, uses capabilities such as AI and machine learning from AWS to analyze 67 billion event records to make 4 million matches.
Sankholkar opined that the large enterprise segment is also equally bullish on cloud today to play catch up with the disruptors in the industry; a majority of those disruptors are vibrant tech-savvy startups. “Hence, we are seeing a requirement across different sectors. If you look at just insurance, say, HDFC Standard Life has built a digital platform off us. It is called Atom, where all their digital workloads are being put on AWS now. Then, we have customers like Bajaj Finance and Bajaj Capital.
Aditya Birla Capital, is another great example of a non-banking finance company who are starting to put workloads off us. Take Titan Industries or Tata Motors, they have put all their digital business, their digital properties off AWS, doing some interesting stuff with us around telemetry and IOT. The list is endless and will continue to grow.”
Sankholkar was particularly bullish on the work it is doing with the government of India. “AWS was the first global cloud service provider to achieve empanelment for delivering Public Cloud services to government customers in India. AISPL has achieved full Cloud Service Provider empanelment by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY),” he stated.
“Needless to mention then that more and more enterprises, across sectors and verticals, are becoming comfortable with using the cloud, as these enterprises are compelled to undergo a digital transformation,” said Sankholkar.
On the ‘fear of moving to cloud’ he said, “Today, security threats are continuously changing. Larger enterprises are migrating to AWS because of its superior security.”
A strong partner ecosystem
The company also has a strong partner network called the Amazon Partner Network that has tens of thousands of partners from across the globe. Until recently, AWS added over 10,000 new partners to the APN. Over 60 percent of APN Partners are headquartered outside the United States. Outside of US, India saw the largest growth in number of partners. In the last 12 months, India contributed the most new non-US headquartered APN Partners.
“We now have 5 PoPs in different parts of India and 4 AWS Direct Connect locations. So we are seeing a strong growth momentum as far as the customer and partner base is concerned,” Sankholkar informed.
Another area where AWS is working on is to increase the number of AWS Professional Level certifications across the country. While AWS’s highly reliable and resilient cloud platform gives freedom to ISVs to build and deploy their products around AWS ecosystem with increased efficiency, speed and scalability, the focus is to continue to work closely with ‘born in the cloud’ partners. AWS has also set up a Technical Support Center in Bangalore where local engineering talent supports global customers of the company.
“We are forging strong ties with consulting partners, large global system integrators like Accenture, PwC, HCL, Wipro, TCS and also regional systems integrator partners to take our growth trajectory ahead,” he said.
The growth story continues
The company is continuing to invest in the India market because it is convinced of the country’s strong growth potential. But, with every global player looking at India’s potential to expand its business, what finally sets AWS apart from its competitors? Sankholkar quipped and explained, “So, there are some peculiar principles we follow in Amazon, which I believe makes us different from the rest. Firstly, unlike many others who are obsessed with how they are going to change in the next five or 10 years, we are obsessed with our customer and their needs, always putting customer preference the first order, and everything that we do, we work backwards from the customer.”
“Secondly, we aren’t afraid of failures. We can traverse that extra mile to work on behalf of our customer, invent on behalf of the customer, even if the road ahead is bumpy. The third thing is that we are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time. We will experiment, and invent on behalf of the customers and fail and learn from our mistakes, and also from other’s mistakes,” he asserted.
“The proof is that you get to see a flurry of invention coming out of the Amazon stable today. There’s nothing inherently common between books and drones, or between drones and video. Irrespective of the invention, we, at AWS, like to think ourselves not like a giant but the world’s first largest startups, that relentlessly focuses on customers and drives innovation on their behalf and will continue to do so,” he summed up.