This was the subject of our discussion on Times Techies Webinars last week, a discussion we organised in association with data management and hybrid cloud services company NetApp. Ravi Chhabria, MD of NetApp India, and VP of hybrid cloud engineering at NetApp, said speed and agility are the hallmarks of cloud. When the Covid lockdowns were suddenly announced and entire supply chains were disrupted, companies couldn’t possibly beef up their inhouse data centres to cater to the requirements of all employees working from home. “You don’t have the time to say I’m going to build it out,” said Chhabria. But with cloud, you can almost instantly scale up your compute and network requirements.
If your software applications are on the cloud, those too become instantly scalable. We could all communicate and collaborate easily on applications like Zoom and Teams because they are on the cloud.
“And it’s so simple to use,” said K S Viswanathan, VP of industry initiatives at Nasscom. Cloud, he said, has enabled democratisation of innovation. Startups and small business units in large companies can quickly get all the computing resources they need. Startups don’t have to find the money to invest in their own infrastructure and software, they can use the money they have to innovate. Small business units don’t have to wait for the company’s IT department to procure servers, storage and software licenses. “It significantly improves time to market,” said Anu Mangaly, principal engineer at NetApp India. Viswanathan said cloud’s ability to provide real-time analytics, immersive experiences and hyperpersonalisation are other driving factors.
Chhabria said one of NetApp’s customers is an outerwear designer & manufacturer. They are global, their design requires global collaboration, the supply chain is diversified and distributed, their datasets are distributed. “Cloud enables you to deal with all that complexity, because you can have local solutions and yet have that one thread that runs across, providing universal visibility, enabling its management as one business, one innovation pipeline, one distribution system,” he said.
A company like this would typically be using multiple clouds, in different regions. It could be AWS in one place, Azure in another, Google in a third. But all of them can be seamlessly tied together with what NetApp calls the data fabric. “So you can have your data in your terms, consume it in your terms, secure it in your terms, and have uniformity in how you manage it,” Chhabria said.
Some worry about the security of data on the cloud. But Viswanathan said the trust factor in cloud is increasing by leaps and bounds because the security frameworks – how to respond and react to and resolve issues – are improving. Chhabria said understanding of security and protection of data is today an integral part of every single engineer’s job. Data can also be anchored in your inhouse data centre while the compute happens in the cloud.