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cloud computing

Today’s competitive environment requires companies to firefight simultaneously on several fronts. Broadly, these include fast turnaround time, reducing ownership cost, identifying key investment areas, et all. In this context, therefore, it wouldn’t be an understatement to state that now is a good time for operators to look beyond on-premise deployments.

Despite being the centre of various discussions, cloud-based infrastructure has, so far, been considered a mere substitute for on-premise deployments. It is time, thus, that the technology got its due-it’s time that it attained the mantle of a significant cog in an organization’s overall machinery.

A quick and easy way to achieve this is by, naturally, highlighting the benefits accrued by the technology. Very briefly, these are centered on cost, time to market, performance, reliability and maintenance and global scalability.

Let’s take a quick look at each. Now, as far as costis concerned, the biggest benefit is that no payment is required to be made upfront. Moreover, factors such as data centre space, annual maintenance of hardware and software, et all, require negligible investment. Next up, time to market is reduced significantly with cloud deployments. How? Well, the hardware and software required for the same are available on the fly; one merely needs to install them as per the required configuration.

Moreover, deploying the technology would yield reduced latency. Ideally, this implies customers are able to access the service from any part of the globe. The cloud is specifically designed for caching content to the edge locations. This is to fulfill incoming service requests from the nearest available location, based on the geographic presence.

Reliability & maintenance are achieved as there are mechanisms available for easier data backups, in-built monitoringtools availability and support for disaster recovery to achieve business continuity.

In a nutshell, if we consider a rough estimate, project timelines can be reduced by around 50-60 per cent, while cost can be reduced by 40-50 per cent. This, of course, is in addition to other advantages the platform offers.

Having said that, however, I feel it is prudent to point out that merely examining and being acquiescent of the benefits accrued isn’t adequate to measure whether an organization’s solutions are cloud-ready or not.

The bigger question here is: how does one determine if an organization’s solutions are cloud-ready or not?

Naturally, a number of factors come into play. First and foremost, the on-premise solution has to undergo certain engineering-centric changes. Simply put, an organization has to ensure that the cloud platform can support multiple tenants, deploys stateless protocols in client-server communication and ensures session management. This, in turn, is to permit load distribution through horizontally scaling the product as and when required.

Now, let’s examine all the aforementioned factors. Support for multi-tenancy implies that the solution ought to ensure that even a single deployment can cater to multiple geographies, languages, charging mechanisms, price points, time zones, currencies, et all. The list is endless but for the sake of convenience, I have whittled it down to the most vital factors.

Next up, the solution ought to be designed so as to support horizontal scalability.This is merely to ensure that the additional instances created at run time are able to accommodate the increased load. Now, ensuring run time configurabilityis a must, especially if one wishes to add to the number of regions or instances in one’s running deployment on the fly.

Of course, the solution may require certain customization, based on the specific implementation of cloud environment that one is choosing for one’s solution deployment.

In addition, some other aspects that should also be looked at by the organization includes up skilling of the existing work force and understanding the in-built tools and technologies, the risks and dependencies involved with the cloud migration, state policies and changes to the existing set of processes to support cloud deployments.

In sum, the intent of this write-up wasn’t to merely advocate the cloud but to also list the benefits that deploying the same accrue. The essentials are all (to my knowledge) listed here-now it’s time to ask the big question-is YOUR organization cloud-ready?

June 8, 2017 0 comment
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Fire-fighting on several fronts simultaneously is the norm for today’s telecom operators. On one hand, the traditional voice business has all but declined. On the other, data-centric services are in the spotlight. While operators have jumped onto the data bandwagon, a degree of caution still remains. Why? Well, analysts emphasise that revenue generated from data traffic could compensate for the monies voice-based services were supposed to bring in. The catch, however, is that the networks required to support such services are expensive to build and maintain. To make matters worse, the mobile broadband market is, doubtless, flourishing, but operators aren’t laughing all the way to the bank. Instead, they’re contending with strains on network capacity which ultimately adversely impact their bottomlines.

Understandably, then, rooting out new revenue streams is at the top of every operator’s to-do list. After all, shutting shop isn’t an option, especially in a sector where the competition is cut-throat and the profit margins are razor-thin. This is why operators are turning their attention elsewhere.

Shifting Focus

The crux of the argument is this-telecom operators are beginning to wake up to the potential of enterprise information and communications technology (ICT) solutions to give their flailing profit a shot in the arm. To be more precise, operators are betting all their money on cloud computing. Of course, the degree and purpose of deployment differs vastly for tier one operators and their smaller counterparts. For the former, cloud computing provides a golden opportunity to tier one operators to monetize their existing network assets more efficiently. How? Simply by synergizing their resource and capacity utilizations across multiple enterprise and/or residential customers spread across different geographical locations. At the same time, the cloud helps tier 2 and 3 operators to scale their capex and opex spends, along with the growth of their business.

So, why is the cloud in the spotlight? First off, today’s digitally converged marketplace has ensured that the lines between telecom operators and IT have blurred. In this context, placing technologies like cloud computing at the centre of one’s strategy makes sense. Why? Well, because not only will it help improve bottomlines but will also ensure that operators move out of their comfort zone of providing simple connectivity solutions.

Next, let’s take a look at the market itself. According to Gartner, the global public cloud services market is projected to grow by 16.5 per cent in 2016 to total $204 billion, up from $175 billion in 2015. The highest growth is expected to be attributed to cloud system infrastructure services (infrastructure as a service [IaaS]), which is projected to grow by 38.4 per cent in 2016. No small opportunity, this!

Besides, as per industry analysts, this segment actually plays up a telecom operator’s key strengths. Here’s how-businesses like telecom and cloud IT typically deploy a highly-centralised delivery model. This implies the entire show requires scalable core infrastructure and wide-reaching networks to run. Luckily though, operating in asset-heavy and centralised delivery businesses is what these players have been doing since time immemorial. Thus, telecom operators are very well positioned to compete in the cloud space, as compared to other premise-based IT markets.

So, what approach have telecom operators been adopting so far? In terms of services, the operator’s repertoire typically comprises of the basic flavours, i.e.-software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service. It isn’t confined to that, of course. Other offerings include unified communications, managed services for fixed and mobile networks, security services and business applications. These are usually offered as bundled services or in collaboration with a third party-i.e.-a managed service provider (MSP).

How an MSP can Help

Now, where does the MSP fit into this scenario? To start, permit me to state that the role played by an MSP is purely complimentary to any operator’s cloud strategy. How? Here’s a short laundry list of what an MSP can do to ensure cloud-based services work in favour of the operator:

  • Operators can retain control over the infrastructure and application services. The MSP permits operators to outsource a select few or all enterprise IT operations. On their part, the MSP brings to the table their best practices and processes. Of course, strict adherence to stringent service level agreements for applications hosted on the cloud is an added bonus.
  • MSPs offer a management layer between the operator and the public cloud. This creates a three-layer architecture (the operator, the MSP and the public cloud) which is easy to maintain. In addition, the MSP functions as a single point of contact to manage all these applications. Additional services like security and backup management are a part of the package as well.
  • Last but not the least, apart from technical operations, an MSP can also provide support for business operations. This entails offering premium services, such as examining the customer’s data for irregularities or inconsistencies. They then take appropriate action without getting the operator involved. The latter is thus free to focus on their core business.

The Challenges and Benefits of Cloud Services

There is very little doubt that the pro’s the cloud platform offers outweighs the cons substantially. Nevertheless, for the sake of presenting a balanced view, let’s quickly take a look at both:

The Challenges

  • Operators ought to know where they stand in the value chain.
  • A clear go-to-market strategy needs to be implemented.
  • An optimal product portfolio mix needs to be identified.

The Benefits

  • Greater cost agility, especially with IaaS
  • Reduced opportunity costs
  • Increased retained cash as cloud/on-demand services ensure that the operator doesn’t have to invest upfront in IT infrastructure.

Net, net, challenges notwithstanding, cloud computing may finally have its moment in the spotlight. There is a catch, though-to leverage this technology to the fullest, operators require overcoming their fears about security or lack of cohesiveness with their current infrastructure. And this is where an MSP can help. After all, the role an MSP can play in this scenario isn’t an either/or, it’s for sure!

June 14, 2016 0 comment
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What is Cloud Computing?

In simple terms, cloud computing refers to the delivery of hosted services over the internet. It enables enterprises to consume compute resources as a utility, rather than building and maintaining computing infrastructures in-house.

Uptake of Cloud Computing

Over the past few years, cloud computing has emerged as an elemental part of a company’s IT strategy. It has, to a great extent, opened and revolutionized the way IT provides services along with how consumers access applications, information and services.

A brief snapshot of the uptake of cloud services is as follows:

  • 29 per cent of enterprises started using cloud computing in 2014 and 46 per cent of those enterprises now use advanced cloud services.
  • By the end of 2015, 93 per cent of organizations were running applications with infrastructure-as-a-service.
  • 82 per cent of organizations have adapted a cloud strategy in 2015, up from 74 per cent in 2014.
  • 68 per cent of enterprises run less than one-fifth on their application portfolio in cloud.
  • Cloud Computing adoption is expected to hit $250 billion by 2017.
  • The global SaaS market is expected to grow at a yearly growth rate of 20.2 per cent, implying a growth of 45.5 billion by 2017.

Why have enterprises shifted to the cloud?

The swift shift of enterprises to the cloud is fueled by four major advantages:

Matured user communityData reporting has become complex. Users manipulate data with advanced analytics in effective ways.  The consumers of business intelligence, who expect access to information, can advance business with cloud.

New Technology – Cloud based technological advancements are matching the modern data demands. This is driving the adoption of the hybrid data ecosystems to the drag of enterprise data storage.

Economics – The streamlined data activity, accelerated analytics and lower capital costs with big data & cloud make the cloud cost effective.

Valuable Data types – Cloud has communicated fluidity with modern data demands. It has made the task of analyzing high velocity, high volume and multi-structured data easier and cheaper incorporating highly valuable data into the analytic process to gain great outcomes.

Cloud Computing trends 2016

Cloud trends in 2016

In order to regularly adapt the new cloud strategies and to encash market opportunities or eliminate oversightsover the coming time, it becomes highly essential for the enterprises to continually analyze the cloud computing trends. Below we have listed the cloud computing trends that are anticipated to drive user engagement through 2016:

Hybrid Cloud Computing – It refers to using a combination of public and private cloud services along with physical applications, services and infrastructure.

It is quite evident from the latest developments that hybrid cloud computing will become an imperative taking the form of an integrated cloud model, which consists  of external as well as internal cloud platforms that can be leveraged on the basis of specific business requirements. Therefore, the companies should put immediate efforts on the integration of application and data infrastructures in order to form a hybrid solution.

Cloud Services Brokerage is becoming a key role of IT–It essentially involves a service provider to assist the consumption of cloud computing. As a trend, CSB is predicted to attain speed during this year as the users choose to use cloud services free from the IT bureaucracy.

So, IT critically needs to find ways in order to position itself as a Business CSB by creating flexible yet simple user-centric processes and tools to uphold its relevance and encourage the end users to look for IT assistance.

Cloud-friendly frameworks have become an enterprise imperative –The cloud-friendly decision frameworks have become a business imperative now. It is quite agreeable that cloud computing offers a host of indispensible benefits and features. It also enables the IT to targetits resources on the delivery of new and more efficient services that accelerate the business.

Cloud-optimized Application design- Now-a-days, more and more enterprises are adapting cloud computing in order to transfer their workload to an application infrastructure.  It becomes a good approach since the workload requires a variable supply of resources, where the app logically acquires horizontal scalability.

Datacenters require adapting implementation models from Cloud Service providers – Within an ecosystem of cloud computing, the datacenters along with other implementation details are taken care by the service provider while the business concerns itself only with the service consumption.  But, as the enterprises keep expanding their datacenters, it would be better for them to apply the cloud computing models in order to increase efficiency, performance and agility.


These cloud computing trends have already started becoming best practices and they are bound to have deep implications on cloud strategies. Over the coming time, the major external trends like big data, mobility and IoT are expected to create an explosion with the use of true hybrid clouds. It would be interesting to see how in-house applications will modernize to become cloud ready.

February 1, 2016 0 comment
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According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as of February 2015, India had over 20.86 million credit cards and 538.03 million debit cards-in other words, quite a bit of plastic money. In fact, these numbers are only going to increase in the near future, what with India’s major banks allowing everyone with an Aadhaar card to open bank accounts. Now, to throw a spanner in the works-debit and credit card players, pay attention-a majority of all monetary transactions in the country are still carried out via CASH!

A dearth of debit and credit cards in India is clearly not the reason for this huge gap. So, what is? Well, for starters, the country had only 1.09 million point-of-sale (POS) terminals as of February 2015, again, according to the RBI. The reason for this dismal number is simple-a POS terminal is an expensive proposition. And the clincher-the viability of such equipment is contingent to achieving a certain minimum transaction volume. Needless to say, these conditions effectively exclude small and medium-sized merchants and create an overcrowded marketplace for the big players.

Meanwhile, the marketplace itself is flourishing. According to stats released by the India Brand Equity Foundation, in 2013, the total size of the Indian retail market was $490 billion and is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2020. This potential naturally implies that every retail company-irrespective of size, turnover, etc-will rise to the challenge with rupee signs in their eyes. And an increasing number of POS terminals will magically appear.

The journey for small and medium-sized merchants, however, remains an uphill one-and not just because by and large, they still faithfully propound the virtues of fixed point of sales (POS) devices. As a small side note, it is, in my opinion, an appropriate time to point out that these devices entail a substantial amount of upfront investment (in the form of rentals)-not to mention high cost of maintenance. In fact, fixed POS devices are no friend of merchant acquirers either-think of the funds required for maintenance and all kinds of logistics associated with the machine!

But, wait, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The magic portion for these players is a payment device which entails little or no expense in terms of deployment and maintenance. Moreover, the solution ought to adhere to approved standards of transaction and data security via PIN authentication and all security certification standards. And last but certainly not the least; it should leverage both the mobile device and plastic money to the fullest.

Enter the mobile POS (MPOS). It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state upfront that this solution is labelled as “disruptive”, potentially driving down the price of regular POS terminals by as much as 50 per cent and offering significant value adds such as EMI payments, mobile top-ups, payment analytics and even cash and check reconciliation via its mobile app.

Another plus in its kitty is the fact that cash-on-delivery (CoD) has emerged as the most favoured payment method in India. Customers are not always comfortable with making a prepaid transaction on a new website. So, the next best thing is to opt for CoD. Given that small and medium-sized businesses in India mostly accept ‘cash-only’ payments, owing to the large fee entailed in card processing deploying MPOS makes good business sense. It opens up an affordable channel to accept alternate forms of payment, from cards to the mobile handset. For the big boys of retail, MPOS could provide support in managing the workforce, sales force etc. by providing mobile-based inventory management, automatic sales records, etc.

There is little doubt that MPOS has received an enthusiastic response, especially keeping in mind the spate of platform launches last year. However, its long-term success is contingent on a very fluid factor-the uptake of technology by the small and medium business (SMB) segment.

Accounting for over 17 per cent of the country’s GDP (according to a joint report by NASSCOM and Frost & Sullivan), this segment is very crucial, to say the least. Traditionally, its relationship with technology has been a difficult one, as it chose to adopt IT in a selective manner. Things changed soon enough, though. Despite its size, the SMB segment faces many challenges, such as fragmentation, unorganized growth and scalability issues, to name a few. Hence rose the need to streamline operations, standardize processes and enhance productivity and quality of products and services.

Today, led by the retail and hospitality segments, the SMB sector remains one of the biggest spenders in this regard. To illustrate, as per a report released by NASSCOM in association with Frost & Sullivan, the Indian SMB market spent about $8.7 billion on IT in financial year 13. Of this, 45 per cent was spent on hardware, while 40 per cent was on IT services (implementation, support and training) and 15 per cent was on software licensing and software as a service (SaaS). Going forward, the segment’s pockets will continue to be deep-the SMB segment is estimated to witness a 15 per cent year-on-year growth, which will propel the IT spending in the sector over $18.5 billion by financial year 2018.

Of all the overall technology solutions available, industry experts reckon that cloud adoption on will be a key element to transform the SMB ecosystem. The platform’s inherent advantages such as low CAPEX and TCO, flexible storage options and easy data management is beckoning these players. As a result, SaaS adoption by Indian SMBs is growing at a CAGR of 25 per cent and is expected to reach $370 million by financial year 2018. A significant portion of SMBs would continue to focus on business software and enterprise applications, mainly for an integrated business view.

That apart, these players have realised the value of an all-encompassing presence online. Subsequently, they have their own digital store front or tie-up with e-commerce majors, like FlipKart and Amazon.

To illustrate, Amazon is offering various interesting services and tools to Indian SMEs, in addition to the “Sell on Amazon” facility.  For instance, it has opened up the global markets for products manufactured by Indian SMEs, with the help of Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon facility-where Amazon will pick, pack and ship to customers directly.

Moreover, the big boys of e-commerce, including Snapdeal, Flipkart, Amazon and eBay are coaching small traders on how to use a computer, send emails, click a photo and upload products. It doesn’t end there-apart from the bells and whistles, also on the agenda are more serious tasks like warehousing and inventory management. The bottom-line is simple and a win-win situation for both parties. Use digital literacy as bait to lure more sellers into the booming e-commerce marketplace. More users imply more products which ultimately imply more customers.

To conclude, the point of this blog wasn’t to extol the virtues of MPOS, but to remind my readers that the SMB segment is rising-and fast. The secret sauce for success, therefore, is for players to create a mash-up of MPOS-based payments with frills like inventory management, customer relationship management, campaigns and loyalty management programmes, offers and coupons, et al. Voila? Not quite yet. Cash is still the king.

May 21, 2015 0 comment
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