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The Business of the Cloud – Interview with Nitin Khanapurkar, KPMG

by tapangarg on May 19, 2011

Nitin Khanapurkar, Executive Director, Advisory Services, KPMG in India – and author of a comprehensive report titled “The Cloud: Changing the Business Ecosystem” – tells us about the opportunities for CIOs with Cloud Computing.

Q.  Although there is a lot of buzz around the word ‘Cloud’, how would you define Cloud Computing?

In order to understand the Cloud, it is important to understand what exactly can be called Cloud computing. While there are numerous definitions of the Cloud, it can be explained as follows:

The Cloud = Internet-based data access & exchange + Internet-based access to low cost computing and applications

Characteristics = On-Demand + Self-Service + Internet Accessibility + Pooled Resources + Elastic Capacity + Usage-based Billing

Q. What drives adoption of the Cloud among Indian businesses today?

The key differentiating factors are cost and flexibility. Till yesterday, ERP, CRM, and collaborative platforms were the prerogatives of big companies, because small organizations lacked the technical wherewithal and faced entry barriers of cost. Today, with the Cloud, anyone can hook onto it and the Capex required is a fraction of what it would be otherwise. Another benefit of Cloud is the crunched time-to-market.

Q. From an industry segment point of view, how do you see it impacting the Indian business and technology landscape?

Key sectors like the education and government are not very savvy in their adoption oftechnology. Take e-governance– there are clear pockets when data collection peaks, e.g. during the elections or census or even filing of Income Tax returns. At such times, it would be best to commission and decommission the Cloud as per need.

Also, voice as a service, at a time when there is parity of population and mobile phone connections, has ample scope. The Cloud will come into play when people want to receive services on their mobile devices because rural literacy continues to be a problem. It does not make sense to dedicate 200 phone lines for an agricultural voice service to farmers. The Cloud is definitely a solution.

In the education sector, the Khan Academy, or even IIT are good examples. With lectures available on Youtube, the power has shifted to the students. There can be an entire ecosystem on the Cloud, with curriculum planning, certification, etc. In the end, whoever has content has the power. All this has to be deployed in the Cloud fashion – flexible and scalable infrastructure has to be built to cater to this demand.

Q. In the organized sector, what adoption trends have you noticed?

Big organizations have already invested in technology. They are shy about leveraging the Cloud because of terabytes of data, which needs to be secured. However, there is excitement about going for the Private Cloud through virtualization and picking the low-hanging fruits of mail messaging, testing, etc.

Q. Some organizations stillfear that the Cloud will putmost IT departments out ofbusiness – an exaggerationor possibility?

If you look at the past decade, there have been technologies that made you obsolete if you did not adopt them. It’s the same thing for the Cloud. The key is for CIOs to identify a business case, but some CIOs are confused about what Cloud possibilities exist. Over a period of six months, this will change; CIOs will start talking about ROI and what it means.

Q. How has Cloud computing affected theIndian CIO’s role?

I see CIOs becoming CSOs– Chief Strategy Officers, witha niche role to play. If CIOs can avoid the routine tasks of provisioning infrastructure, they can concentrate on strategic thinking, emerging technologies, and innovation. They needn’t be skeptical and conservative about the Cloud. Microsoft has a number of frameworks, which can help CIOs assess their Cloud readiness and work innovatively to improve their TCO.

Q. What would you liketo tell CIOs about the perceived inhibitors?

You always keep small savings in a purse and large ones in a vault. Cloud vendors today, take better care of the data with patches, virus protection, anti-hacking guards, and so on. Plus there are audits, certifications, etc. to give you a tight security net. If you were to build these ‘vaults’ yourself, the Capex would be tremendous. Also, in the case of SMEs, most don’t have the capacity to provide this security themselves, so the Cloud is an answer. When share certificates went out of use and demat came in, share brokers were skeptical, but we all know how it well it has worked. It’s the same with the Cloud.

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  • Raghavan Madabhushi

    Consumer cloud apps such as Facebook and Twitter has changed the way we interact with our friends and family members. Companies like Salesforce.com are bringing these apps to enterprise through their tools like chatter and integrating public social networks. This social phenomena is going to change the way businesses are interacting with their customers. Today customers make lot of conversations over these networks and if enterprises can listen, analyze and act on these conversations, they can gain immense customer satisfaction. Getting market share via mind share is another added advantage. Enterprises need to be in place where customers. As web shrinks and social networks are expanding this is place. Cloud is transforming the way we do business and its becoming more social and agile. Social is not just consumer word its now enterprise word.

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