Interview

Flexibility and Choice through the Cloud : VIKAS ARORA, GROUP DIRECTOR – CLOUD SERVICES MICROSOFT INDIA

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Flexibility and Choice through the Cloud : VIKAS ARORA, GROUP DIRECTOR - CLOUD SERVICES MICROSOFT INDIAVIKAS ARORA
GROUP DIRECTOR – CLOUD SERVICES MICROSOFT INDIA

“The government today is fully aware of the benefits that Cloud Computing can bring to the table and how it can be an excellent platform for fast, affordable service deployment and delivery. The IT decision makers in public sector understand that the sheer scale and complexity of government departments demand a simpler solution for computing as they need to reach out to different geographies, people and sectors.”

Microsoft is one of the pioneers of Cloud Computing. How and when Microsoft began its Cloud Computing effort?

With almost 15 years of experience running some of the largest, most reliable cloud services in the world; our Cloud Computing solutions span businesses, governments and consumers. Microsoft has a global reach with over 1 billion customers and 2Omillion businesses reached each year with our cloud services.

Each day over millions of people interact with Microsoft’s cloud services. Microsoft is completely committed to the cloud: evolving existing products, creating new cloudcbased offerings and building the infrastructure to support cloud services at a global level. Today we provide a comprehensive set of cloud services with the reliability, security and global reach that our customers have come to expect of us.

Where does India stand in Cloud Computing evolution? How much time it will take to fully evolve?

India is progressing towards the cloud and the Cloud Computing business here is expected to increase manifold times in a few years. The country presents a unique opportunity in terms of the following;

  • The market is still growing and there is untapped potential at every level for IT adoption to grow.
  • Presence of a huge SME sector makes India the potential hub for Cloud Computing services. There is a huge change that Cloud Computing can bring to this sector in terms of their functioning
  • India is a best place to test strategic adoption techniques as no other geography will give the platform vendor access to the whole ecosystem.

Please throw some light on Windows Azure platform, the public cloud service offered by Microsoft. How different is public cloud from private cloud?

Microsoft Azure TM Services Platform (Azure) is an Internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft Data Centres, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together.

Azure’s flexible and interoperable platform can be used to build new applications to run from the cloud or enhance existing applications with cloud-based capabilities.

Azure reduces the need for up-front technology purchases, and it enables developers to quickly and easily create applications running in the cloud by using their existing skills in many languages using the Microsoft Visual Studio development environment or any other environment of your choice ego Eclipse, and the Microsoft .NET Framework.

As for the difference between public and private cloud – A public cloud is offered as a service via web applications/ web services (usually over an Internet connection). This includes management of deploying, managing, securing the infrastructure and companies can consume it on demand with a pay as you consume option, much like the utility consumption. Private cloud and internal cloud are deployed inside the firewall and managed by the user organisation, for example, an on-premise Data Centre.

Security is one of the top concerns and barriers to adoption of Cloud Computing. How can these barriers be overcome?

To ensure that Cloud Computing reaches its full potential, we need a broad national conversation on privacy and security in the cloud. For the cloud to deliver on its promise, industry and the government needs to take appropriate actions to foster users’ confidence that their privacy interests will be preserved and their data will remain secure in the cloud. There is a need to establish some kind of an act/legislation that should:

  • Strengthen privacy by ensuring that users are not forced to give up their reasonable expectations of privacy when they move data to the cloud. Enhance security by increasing law enforcement resources and strengthening criminal and civil enforcement mechanisms against malicious hacking of cloud services. There is a need to establish a robust fraud act in place vis-a-vis Cloud Computing to make it easier for law enforcement and cloud providers to combat unauthorised access to data stored in the cloud.
  • Help users make informed choices by promoting transparency around cloud providers’ security practices.
  • Promote user confidence in the cloud by working with governments and associations to agree on common approaches to jurisdiction over cloud services and data stored in the cloud.

How aware are the customers in India, especially the Public Sector, about Cloud Computing?

Our National e-Governance (NeGP) programme is a very ambitious one with several Mission Mode Projects (MMP) getting rolled out and require core infrastructure. The process of putting this all together can be very long drawn out and still might be inadequate given the complexity of forecasting capacities needed for the long term.

The government today is fully aware of the benefits that Cloud Computing can bring to the table and how it can be an excellent platform for fast, affordable service deployment and delivery. The IT decision makers in public sector understand that the sheer scale and complexity of government departments demand a simpler solution for computing as they need to reach out to different geographies, people and sectors. They understand that Cloud Computing can facilitate removal of unnecessary operational and technical overheads of managing IT, ensure faster deployments and ensure the reach of citizen services in all states irrespective of their present e-Governance readiness.

What are some of the reasons/ advantages for which government agencies should adopt Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing offers users, including governments and enterprises with greater flexibility, portability, and choice in their computing options.

They can choose to develop or run their own applications while relying on the service provider for the servers, operating systems, or storage. ego Application architects can access computing resources very affordably and only when required, rather than sizing for peak loads. Users can choose to rely on a private cloud operated only for one organisation or they can choose a public cloud, which is open to the public and may have multiple enterprises, organisations, and individuals that use the

same infrastructure. There are additional alternatives as well. Also, multi-tenancy of cloud applications opens up several possibilities of running highly efficient and shared infrastructure. IT management, which can be very complex in a large Data Centre environment, can no longer be an issue to deal with and governments can focus on requirements of the services, rather than their deployment and management. All in all, the benefits of Cloud Computing can be felt in our daily lives. It will lead to better delivery of health care and will help control its costs. It will provide teachers with new tools that will make classrooms more vibrant. It will contribute to economic growth and job creation. Small and medium-sized businesses are especially. likely to benefit from public clouds and the computing power they offer.

How do you see Microsoft rendering its services in Cloud Computing to the Indian Government?

We feel that for governments, Cloud Computing offers the potential to reduce costs in a time of economic constraints while making data more easily accessible to citizens and making the process of governance more transparent.

Through our services, we aim to provide transparency over how data is protected, and ensure flexibility and choice for all users to make informed decisions about the best deployments of cloud services. There are certain fundamental elements that would enable users to make such informed decisions.

These include transparency with respect to whether the architecture, infrastructure, and related information security controls of service providers satisfy well-recognized and verifiable security criteria; whether service providers use appropriately robust authentication mechanisms in light of the services and level of sensitivity of the data at issue; and the extent to which applications and other components of cloud services receive strong security testing before deployment. Simply put, it should not be enough for service providers simply to say that their services are secure; there needs to be some transparency about why they are secure.

How big is the global Cloud Computing market? What is India’s share in this market?

According to a report by Gartner, revenue from cloud services globally surpassed $56.3 billion in 2009, a 21 .3% increase from 2008 rev~nue of $46.4 billion. The report also estimates the market will reach $150.1 billion by 2013. As far as the Indian market is concerned, according to an IDC study; by 2012, spend on cloud-computing services is expected to grow almost threefold, reaching US$42 billion. Spending on Cloud Computing will account for 25 percent of IT spending growth in 2012. There is also huge opportunity in the Indian 5MB sector where 8 million 5MBs in India with around 35 million employees and 10 million can be potential users of Cloud Computing.

NATIONAL SEMINAR ON CONVERGENCE OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION, TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION

A National Seminar on “Convergence of Information, Communication, Technology & Education” was organised at I.T.S, Mohan Nagar, Ghaziabad on 17th April, 2010. Dr. Ajoy Kumar Ray, Vice Chancellor, Bengal Engineering & Science University, Howrah was present as the Chief Guest and Director – IBM Research Labs India, Dr. Manish Gupta was the Key Note Speaker in the Inaugural Session of this Seminar. The Seminar was inaugurated by the Chief Guest by Lamp Lighting before the statue of Goddess Saraswati which followed the recitation of Sarawati vandana by the students. Director GeneraII.T.S. Ghaziabad Prof. SK Gupta, Dr. Manish Gupta, Director – IT of ITS, Ghaziabad Dr. Vineet Kansal were also present on the dais.

While welcoming the Chief Guest and Key Note Speaker, Director General In his welcome Key Note Speaker, Prof. SK Gupta said that in this ever fast changing world it is the need of the hour that we understand the underlying principles and technologies which are acting as the driving force in the current scenario.

In his address, Chief Guest, Dr. Ray emphasised on the need of understanding the underlying mechanism of exploiting the technology in proper information processing which is useful for human beings and transmits it to all concern and make people aware about these happenings. Without this even if all such good thing exists we cannot ensure their proper utilisation and thus leaving potential under-utilised. Dr. Ray specifically talked about the applications of such synergised framework in Health Sciences, Green Computing and touch upon various aspects related to security. He also talked about other potential research areas which people may further explore and exploit. In his Key Note Address, Dr. Manish Gupta spoke about the development taking place in the industry to cope up with the dynamically changing requirements particularly High Performance Computing and its application in current computing environment.

In the second session Dr. M.M. Pant – Former Pro-Vice Chancellor of IGNOU and renowned academician, Mr. Neeraj Aggarwal – Sr. Vice President NUT Ltd, Dr. B.K. Murthy – Director, Ministry of Communication and IT and Mr. Aniruddha Sen were among the speakers. Dr. Pant spoke on the need of improving the quality of education and creation of efficient and effective learning technology which can ensure the employability of the upcoming generation. Dr. BK Murthy talked about the initiatives In the end Dr. Vineet Kansal, Director – IT delivered the vote of thanks. Dr. Kansal thanked to all the speakers who speared there valuable time to take part in the deliberations in the seminar. He also thanked to the Delegates and Media persons as well.

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