Multi-cloud strategy is the new normal: Sharad Sanghi, Netmagic

Managing hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments remain our biggest strength, says Sharad Sanghi, MD & CEO, Netmagic Solutions.


Netmagic Solutions as a managed service provider with data centers in India is ramping its GTM in 2018 as cloud gains the confidence of CIOs and IT leaders. Sharad Sanghi, its Managing Director & CEO, talks on why Netmagic is the perfect choice for IT infrastructure requirements of modern businesses. 

Edited excerpts:
How do you see the cloud momentum and other enterprise tech trends in India take shape over the next 12 months?
Managing hybrid clouds continues to be our strength as we do bare metal plus public cloud by providing management across the IT infrastructure. In the past, we were leading with our own public cloud, but we recognize that there will be multiple hyper-scalers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google.
We have partnered with all of them and we are offering best-of-breed solutions depending on the customer’s needs. We can architect the cloud for them. Alternately, many of our existing customers have bare metal with us and they use Amazon for DR and Azure for something else.
Instead of having two partners – which might involve finer pointing in case of any issue like DR, etc. – they can have bare metal with us and public cloud with Azure; and we will handle both as a single party. They can buy Azure through us and we will even manage the same for them.

Busting Common Cloud Myths

  • Cloud model is cheaper, especially as company operations scale up
  • Cloud adoption means internal IT team has little or no role to play
  • DR on cloud isn’t a priority in overall IT budgets for digital businesses
  • Cloud leads to sleepless nights for CIOs and their complex infrastructure
  • Best of breed security point products work well in cloud deployment

We have done this across major cloud platforms through common monitoring platform which will manage all of this. Very soon, we will be launching automated provisions for the same through a common portal. Now that we are partnering with others, we will automatically use some of their platforms: Google Tensor for AI and data analytics; we have Hadoop platform and we will use other partners’ platforms.
The other major trend where we saw huge traction towards the end of 2017 is security. We have our own set of managed security services like data protection, IPS, firewalls and WAF to name a few, which were all point products.
Customers now want end-to-end security services and this raises our level of partnership with them. With current alliances with three security OEMs, we are looking to add a few more and then provide a security offering in a big way.
NTT-CI will soon launch SD-WAN service in India. It will have NFV component, especially for companies having branches with a single device. It could be normal server to put software, or an appliance that handles load balancing, firewall, SSL acceleration at local premise and then centrally managed.
It will be a quick deployment in the branch, literally shipped as a box and then plug-and-play. In 2017, Netmagic executed a lot of deployments on DR and we will build on that in 2018.

Have you seen a change in India CIOs and their buying patterns over the years?
CIOs are a lot more mature today. In 2003-04, it was tough for IT leaders to understand the importance of building resilience through dual firewall, and a dual sever was a challenge. Many were not comfortable with outsourcing that. Today they care about cost, but resilience is given in the architecture itself, and they are more than happy to outsource.
There have been examples of major data center providers in India going kaput. Hence IT leaders are now checking the credentials and the core competence of cloud providers. Outsourcing is no longer an issue as echoed by our major customers in India.
The earlier technology was a cost, then it became an enabler, and now technology is a strategic advantage. I don’t blame CIOs because even outsourcers were not mature. It’s not whether CIOs should outsource, it is how much to outsource for their business needs.
CEOs now expect CIOs to be a part of their companies’ digital revenue streams. CIOs have to play a strategic role now – in fact they should be an active part of board meetings. In some cases there are experts designated as Chief Digital Officers, not only for strategic marketing but also for generating revenue. So IT no longer becomes a cost center, but a revenue-generating center.

What about the maturity index of IT leaders around DR/BCP and security, which happens to be your key focus areas in 2018?
DR and BCP is still an issue for many CIOs. Top management doesn’t give the budget, or keeps postponing it – except when it is mandated by the RBI or SEBI. In a slowdown – or where numbers don’t meet expectations – cost-cutting first affects IT budgets for DR and security. Indian companies lags on that front.
Security is another issue which needs more priority from India Inc. Banks are taking security seriously as their business depends on it.  But others are taking it as compliance as opposed to seeing something effective. Some more maturity needs to come in.

“We took the right call last year to develop a tool that monitors and provisions workloads across different clouds from us and global hyperscalers which makes us unique service provider in India.


Sharad Sanghi

                          Sharad Sanghi, Managing Director & CEO, Netmagic

Do you see 2018 to be the ear of public cloud?
For enterprise-grade deployment hybrid will work better for many factors. Why put predictive workloads in cloud when you have invested in existing infra? We have customers who get feeds from brokers at exchanges. That requires a separate server, which many cloud providers don’t allow.
I believe hybrid is here to stay in the long run for enterprise. People might be uncomfortable and security on public cloud, but reliance on public cloud will grow. Mission-critical enterprises will still use a combination of public and private cloud – that’s hybrid.

But public cloud evokes fear over security…
With more awareness and many emerging case studies, that worry is gradually fading. However, even now many banks are not comfortable with putting core banking on public cloud.
The other concern is data sovereignty. After a government mandate implying that certain data has to be in India, major hyper-scalers are committed in India in multiple zones like Mumbai and Delhi.
Many Indian CIOs moved to cloud thinking it would be cheap. That myth is completely busted. People have realized cloud gives flexibility, but it does not come cheap. In fact even now, if a CIO has predictive workloads, he can right size the equipment; he does not need cloud.
But for unpredictable workloads – for e-commerce, flash sales and burst – cloud makes a lot of sense. There are many CIOs who want peace of mind with public cloud by paying a premium. Hence I think the safest approach is hybrid.

Netmagic’s Focus Points for 2018

  • Extend the dominance in hybrid cloud solutions
  • Managing multi-cloud deployments for customers
  • Evolve as an ‘end-to-end security services’ provider
  • Leverage data explosion to ride ‘big data’, IoT, mobility
  • Offer SD-WAN service as quick ‘plug-and-play deployment

What does the bucket list of Sharad Sanghi look like for CIOs and IT leaders in India?
It’s a myth that if I go to cloud then I don’t need an internal IT team. For cloud grid the service provider will manage your infrastructure. But your own security, virtual servers, network and all that needs to be managed by somebody. Equipment will fail, bugs will emerge, patches are needed and the management of backend infrastructure has to be monitored. 
That said, cloud is an absolute business need because of the time-to-market, flexibility, pay-as-you-go and other inherent advantages. IT leaders need to work with a solutions expert with multiple options – bare metal like Netmagic and also with Google and Amazon. They have to understand the requirement and the strengths of cloud providers and then take a call.
We have a special solutions team because we partner with multiple cloud providers to analyze which cloud is appropriate.  We have adopted a cloud-agnostic approach.

What are your key takeaways for the India market?
Data explosion is a key trend, be it for data analytics or social media data for marketing. Almost every service is now consumed over the cloud. More vendors are providing services and apps on the cloud. Every major technology vendor is offerings a Cloud-based service.
In 2017 we were figuring our strategy with all the hyper-scalers launching data centers in India. We took the right call in January 2017 to develop a tool that can monitor and provision across different clouds from us and hyper-scalers lie Azure and AWS. That is what makes us unique in the market. GSIs are not targeting the Indian market much and that plays to our strength.
The multi-cloud strategy will be in full force in 2018, as also the aggressive roll-out of new data centers. The year 2018 will be year for us of managing hybrid and multi-cloud deployments across India.