VMware: Powering Enterprises through SaaS and Cloud

If market reports are to be believed, the software as a service market in India is poised to touch $20 to $80 billion mark in revenue and capture 7% to 9% of the share of the global SaaS market by 2022. The next wave of growth in the segment is expected to build new capabilities with strong COVID tailwinds driving collaborations and productivity tools and remote working, pushing enterprises towards digital channels. VMware, as a leading innovator in enterprise capabilities, and digital technologies presently, is on the past to support the transformation by expanding the focus on solutions such as cloud and apps, SaaS growth, digital workspace, intrinsic security, and the likes.

In the coming days, VMware will drive technology and business transformation for organizations to take advantage of the economic recovery, as they had the earlier part of the foundation, building of India's digital transformation in the public sector, and government segment. Pradeep Nair, the Vice President and Managing Director of VMware India decodes technology adoption, market dynamics, and strategic partnerships and alliances in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld. Excerpts below: 

How has the business been in the Indian market for the past few months?

Business has been good but I think overall, the character of the business, in terms of what customers are looking for help, is what's changed significantly. The pandemic has changed our customer's priorities in ways that we would otherwise not have anticipated. Businesses who wanted to go digital, have been able to successfully explore that idea and the pandemic has further accelerated the move and helped implement the same in a way we ourselves had not imagined before. The idea that work is independent of location or geography, is no longer news, it’s almost history now. I think for us, in India, we have so much talent that's available but is geographically dispersed,  so in the future, we can get top-tier talent, not just in the Tier 1 cities, but also across the country. India is well-positioned to take advantage of this. So that is a big shift that we are seeing, and we have seen growth in technologies required to support that shift. those areas have seen a lot of growth. 

Our initial customer conversations have been around empowering them to operate from anywhere. The customers then started exploring the nature of their workforce. Organizations suddenly found their 500 employees working from 500 different locations, so for instance, going from 5 to 500 locations. This led to the pivot in focus, to security. Customers started to realize how complex it can be with a diverse workforce accessing corporate applications, remote desktops, or personal devices with a connection that might not be secure. However, the focus shifted to securing remote access. So, security became a huge concern, because we needed to deploy at the earliest and proliferation of access from anywhere was something we needed to consider. So, security is the other thing that has taken center stage. 

The third growth area is the interest in the cloud, where the adoption of cloud and maturity has increased tremendously. In an environment where I cannot even get physical access to my office or device, cloud has been able to empower anywhere workforce, changing the way work has been conducted without coming to your traditional place of work. So, these are the three key areas that we are seeing the shift in because of customer spending.

 What has been the response to VMware’s SaaS solutions in the Indian market?

Traditionally, companies would license software on a perpetual basis. But as you move to SaaS, the costs involved are significantly less. For instance, instead of paying, Rs. 100 for a perpetual license, you typically end up paying maybe Rs. 30. So the acquisition cost of software for an enterprise goes down which means a lot more people can take advantage of the software and afford it. It is a big shift that has happened and suddenly, the number of people that are moving to a SaaS model has shot up and it's especially relevant in a market like India, where there is a constant demand. 

Another advantage of SaaS has been the flexibility and greater visibility into the infrastructure that can lead to a better understanding of customer needs. For instance, once customers start running things off their infrastructure, we can see which capabilities are being taken advantage of, what they need help with, the features that are easier to use, how often you use certain features, and this pretty much happens in real-time. 

With SaaS, one can eliminate a lot of back and forth that was sequential. The customer is intimately connected to the use of the software, and it is easier to maintain one consistent version of the software across all our users. 

The cost of managing software is curtailed by several times, it's much easier for our customers to deal with software. Therefore, SaaS has been a domain that India has been very interested in and enthusiastic about. From a regulatory point of view, you need data sovereignty, and you need data to be secured within your enterprise, so many parts of government are still less enthusiastic about sharing data outside of the organization, but the broad majority of Indian customers are reacting very well to SaaS. 

Many government and public sector firms, still prefer the older model of licensing, where they can treat it as capital expenditure rather than OPEX. So, the way many government budgets are set, it's much more convenient and aligned to government budgeting to treat software as an asset that you can capitalize and so Software as a Service might receive less enthusiasm. 

Share with us some of the challenges that you have faced during the initial phase of introducing high-end technological solutions in the Indian market? And how have you been able to mitigate them?

I would not say it's been particularly challenging because Indian enterprises are very comfortable in adopting new capabilities. We are a relatively young country and fairly receptive to new technologies. I think we continue to focus on ensuring to build skills that our customers can rely on. So corporates can hire people preparing for industry, as opposed to academia. We tend to focus on people coming in with great skills, and making them kind of enterprise-ready, helping them build and apply directly into professional work, I think that's the piece that we help the industry deal with. High tech adoption is not really a challenge. It is to make sure that enough people have the right skill, the right level of certification, and our customers can get to hire and deploy them, make them productive really quickly, rather than hiring them with raw skills, and then preparing them for what industry needs. At VMware, we have an education business that focuses on it. We also have VMinclusion Taara that focuses on ensuring women in tech continue to build their skills and return to work and to date we have over 11,800 women who have signed up for the program in India.  

Through Taara, we help women catch up with lost time and upskill through free courses and provide them with certifications to go back and rejoin the workforce. And we have 1000’s of women who actually returned to work. This is a great example of why I think in India it's not a challenge to bring new technology. We have lots of people very keen to learn about what is available in the in marketplace and embracing technology has never been a problem for us here.

 What expansion plan does VMware having for the Indian market?

We do very well in the enterprise space. So, most large customers in India have some association with VMware. Whether its banks, airlines, manufacturing firms, we have an opportunity there. 

We have the opportunity to work with SMEs, the emerging India that is coming up really quickly and are eager to adopt new technology and scale up faster. The smaller Indian enterprise to have an equal footing with the large enterprise is what we are trying to do. That is an area of growth and expansion for us and an area of growth for us. We have done some great work with the government and area that we see an area to do tremendous opportunity to do more especially as governments evolve to provide citizen services post-pandemic. To be able to participate in this and contribute to the whole growth is an opportunity for us. Healthcare for instance, even in the best of circumstances, it is a challenge on how to make it available for all. Though telemedicine has been talked for a while, given what has been happening, the ability to be able to scale is much more urgent. 

How is VMware working with the Government?

Throughout this challenging year, we have seen countless examples of how customers, across industries, and at different stages of digital transformation, have pivoted. These also include supporting our customers in the government(s) and public sector undertakings. Enterprise technology innovations can dramatically impact how the government(s) set policy, buy products, and deliver services.

What is your opinion about the market opportunity in India?

Going forward and in the coming years, the Indian market will witness a lot more opportunities for the cloud. The idea that companies need to be in Digital business is only going to be even more relevant in times to come. The pace of Digital Transformation has accelerated across the industries. It usually starts with building new applications; at VMware, we think industries have the opportunity to modernize existing applications or build new modern applications. The idea that you can build nimble, modern applications that enable you to provide new functions to your customers will see more traction. These applications can be anywhere on the cloud, it could be on your public cloud, private, and hybrid. Once this is done, it is not necessary for the users to come to the location to access the application, it can be accessed from anywhere from any device. We also see a lot of traction on security. 

There is a need for greater visibility and context about infrastructure, applications, and data to effectively improve security. From a solutions point of view, we’ve always been organized around the customers’ needs – our strategy on being able to support ‘Any Application on Any Device from Any Cloud’, securely, continues to hold and defines our structure and go to market.