In the battle to dominate cloud computing, Google said that it was ahead of its rivals Amazon and Microsoft. In an interview, Mohit Pande, country manager-India, Google Cloud, said that what differentiates the company in cloud services is not only ‘unparalleled’ infrastructure and security but also innovation revolving around technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Edited excerpts:
Google recently unveiled a bunch of initiatives in the country like Tez payment app, Translate app updates and cloud services to businesses. What is Google expecting to achieve in India?
India is a very important market for us for all the reasons (such as...) we are a large growing Internet market and with that comes a lot of opportunities.
We are making a lot of investments. What you are seeing is a result of many months and years of hard work which our teams have been doing. It is very important for us to work and win in a market like India.
Consumers and enterprises in India are taking to the Internet and the cloud in ways unlike anywhere else globally. From a broader mission, we are [making available] Internet for everyone whether it is [through] our railways’ (free) Wi-fi, ‘Internet saathi’ project, or building products on the cloud which work in India in conditions such as lower bandwidth, low-cost devices and offline access.
I think it is a great time to be in India right now. So many things are coming together for us, it is the Internet access, the infrastructure, data costs coming down, smartphones and enterprises are moving to the cloud...
What kind of investments is Google planning to make here?
We are investing in infrastructure in India. Google Cloud region would go live this year in Mumbai. We are investing a lot in terms of building the whole ecosystem so that the journey for enterprises, both start-ups and traditional large companies, in moving to the cloud is smooth.
For that, we are investing in skill building and expertise. We have tied up with organisations like Coursera to make online training available. We are also working on to build hands-on-labs and make technical skills available. We are working a lot to scale up our partner ecosystem.
What are the opportunities for Google in cloud services here?
You heard about a traditional (logistics) company like DTDC which moved to the cloud. We are talking about two ends of the spectrum. One kind is born in the cloud arena and the other is a couple of decades old, like a very large traditional logistics company. Less than 10% of the workload has moved to the cloud... which represents a huge amount of opportunity. The Indian software-as-a-service companies have a potential to be valued at $50 billion by 2025.
These are the companies based in India and serving businesses. It is a great (opportunity) to work with them. Then there are companies like Ashok Leyland which has been there for decades and is in the business of auto industry and transportation. It is using the cloud to develop use cases that allow them to become more agile and competitive in their market. We enabled Ashok Leyland to build (a framework) to track the health of vehicles. You are monitoring billions of sensors, and when something [goes] wrong, it automatically sends out of alerts so that preventive maintenance can be done.
So, the cloud allows you to solve problems which you never thought could have been solved earlier. Secondly, cloud lowers the cost of failure which allows you to experiment more and move [ahead].
Companies such as Amazon and Microsoft are also betting big on India for their cloud services. What differentiates Google from the rest?
The question is not ‘[whether] I should move to the cloud in India’. The question is ‘Which cloud should I move into?’. The Google cloud platform powers products which have over a billion users. We have an unparalleled infrastructure.
We are probably the single-largest investor into the global premium network [such as] undersea cables, submarine cables... We outnumber anyone globally by a significant margin. We have invested $30 billion in the last three years only into this infrastructure. Second is our broader focus on security.
Then [comes] the whole framework of software-defined security which includes encryption of data. Our machine learning and artificial intelligence is a big differentiator for us. Look at Hike (messaging service); why did they choose Google?
They choose Google because they wanted a platform which was pushing the envelope on innovation especially around artificial intelligence because that is what they needed for their application to engage [with] the users. They found Google to be the only provider who could do that.
Also, the Supreme Court has upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right. How does Google make sure that data privacy is protected?
We comply by the frameworks which the law of the land really asks [us to]. I think you are referring to the consumer side; we give absolute control to the consumer to decide what data he (or she) shares. You can decide to share zero data or you can decide to share parts of the data. From an enterprise perspective, we comply with the most stringent laws around both data security and data privacy and comply with all the strict standards there, on the cloud side.