Google expanding in India to help users become digital cos: Google Cloud MD

Google Cloud, which competes with global rivals such as Amazon and Microsoft, is on an accelerated path of signing new customers every week and month in India, says Bikram Singh Bedi

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Google | Digital age


Peerzada Abrar  | 
Bengaluru 

For the last one year, Bikram Singh Bedi has been sharpening his skills to play the guitar as he was able to get enough time to spend on learning new abilities during the pandemic. He plays tunes of Bollywood songs from the 1980s and 1990s. Besides that, Bedi, a senior tech industry veteran with over 26 years of leadership experience, is focusing on the biggest assignment he bagged recently. Bedi succeeded Karan Bajwa as tech giant Google Cloud’s new managing director for India. He is responsible for leading Google Cloud’s sales and operations teams in the country.

Bedi joined Google Cloud from SoftBank-backed online grocery startup Grofers where he served as president for strategy and new initiatives. Before that, he set up the Amazon Web Services (AWS) business in India and was the head of India and South Asia for 6 years. He also held various leadership positions at tech firms IBM and Oracle. “As Google (opportunity) came along my first response was ignore it, maybe I have done this before in life, ” says Bedi. “But I then realised the (work) Google was talking about was very different and hence there would be big learnings.”

Indeed, a few years ago cloud computing used to be more about ease of using servers and storage and running data centres more efficiently. But the Covid-19 pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of tech by enterprises. Now cloud computing is about helping customers to accelerate their journey of becoming a digital company. This includes providing platforms, infrastructure and industry solutions. And Google is doubling down on that strategy.

“For most customers, the buck has moved,” says Bedi. “Most customers are asking how can you help us become a digital company.”

To achieve that Google is ramping up its capabilities and competing with global rivals, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Alibaba, to dominate cloud computing services. Under Bedi’s leadership, Google is eyeing to make deeper inroads in areas such as banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), manufacturing, healthcare, public sector, media and entertainment and telecom and retail in India. Google Cloud currently operates 24 regions and 73 zones in 17 countries. With one cloud region already in Mumbai, Google has plans to open a second cloud region in Delhi this year. It is also making investments to hire talent related to technology, sales and customer service. The firm is also making investments in cloud learning services to enhance the skills of students and professionals.

“(The year) 2021 is again a growth year for us. We would continue to expand our cloud regions,” says Bedi. “It is about listening to your customers. Our customers have been telling us to expand facilities.”

To accelerate customers’ digital journey, Google is also implementing a multi-cloud strategy and promoting open-source platforms. This includes implementing cloud computing project Kubernetes, and Anthos, an open platform that lets users run applications from anywhere and Google BigQuery, a cloud-based big data analytics web service. The data created by customers and consumers have also scaled up significantly. Bedi said the firm is providing customers with AI and machine learning technologies to get insights from their data.

At a time when cyberattacks are rising due to the Covid-19 pandemic and organisations are becoming increasingly vulnerable as employees work from home, Google is also betting big on its zero-trust turnkey security offering Beyond­Corp Enterprise for businesses in India. BeyondCorp is modelled after how Google keeps its network safe.

Another big area is workspace strategy. Google has introduced a range of new features across its Google Workspace tools. These include new updates for tools including Google Drive, Meet and Slides. It has also introduced a new way to view and manage notifications in the Google Drive mobile app for Android. “We are helping customers to increase their efficiency and productivity as they work from home,” says Bedi. “The silver lining (related) to coronavirus has been changing the mindset of senior executives at many companies and enterprises, who felt working outside the office was not productive.”

One of the biggest customer wins was IT services major Wipro, which selected Google Cloud as the cloud provider for its enterprise-wide SAP footprint. The engagement was for bringing SAP applications and workloads to the cloud to support Wipro’s 180,000 employees.

Other customers include mobile ad network InMobi Group businesses-smartphone lock screen content provider Glance and short-form video business Roposo. They have turned to Google Cloud products and services to power their growth. For instance, Glance is using Google Cloud to scale an AI-powered personalized content platform to support over 120 million daily active users just 20 months after launch.

Also, Eros Now is using Google Cloud AI and machine learning to automate the subtitling of a range of movies and original content. Eros Now’s in-house data science team is training models to constantly improve the quality of subtitles, driving engagement by enabling users to watch a wide range of content.

“Government is also a key focus area for us. We are doing a lot of work with them,” says Bedi. “In some countries, we are working on developing AI-based chat (platforms) especially to (deal) with covid-related workloads.”

Covid has also helped scale up the collaborations that Google has with its partner community to deploy cloud technologies. This includes the partnership with Tata Communications that is enabling organizations to deploy and access Google Cloud services. Another partner Netmagic is helping enterprises optimize their business workloads on the Google Cloud and accelerate their transformation journey. Other such partners include Searce and Cloud4C.

“Globally we have seen the partners are involved in more than 3X deals than in 2018,” says Bedi. “The average size of the partner-involved deals has more than doubled in the last year.”

Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $4.1 trillion in 2021, an increase of 8.4 per cent from 2020, according to the latest forecast by research firm Gartner, Inc. India’s IT spending is projected to total $93 billion in 2021, an increase of 7.3 per cent from 2020.

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