'Our cloud services have really taken off in the last 18 months': Dimension Data

We have been doing infrastructure management as a service for quite some time. The cloud services we offer have really taken off in the last 18 months.

Arti Singh June 11, 2015 18:05:41 IST
'Our cloud services have really taken off in the last 18 months': Dimension Data

One of the niche players in Gartner’s cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant 2015, Dimension Data feels that it is in the right position with the right offerings to compete in the Indian data centre market. With the market heating up with global giants charting out aggressive plans, the NTT Group company -- which entered the IaaS market by acquiring OpSource in 2011 – is strengthening its portfolio of services – from offering consulting services to infrastructure building to managing -- that span the full data centre lifecycle.

In an interaction with Firstpost, Jahangir Naina, general manager-data centre solutions, Dimension Data APAC and Shiva Sankar, director-next generation data centre solutions, Dimension Data India, discussed the company’s strategy, expanded offerings, and competition. They also shared how India’s most popular cloud vendor Netmagic, which is also part of Japan-based NTT Group, could sometimes be a competition despite being part of the same parent firm; and how Dimension Data has a competitive advantage in this AWS, Microsoft-led data centre market.

Our cloud services have really taken off in the last 18 months Dimension Data

Jahangir Naina, general manager-data centre solutions, Dimension Data APAC

Firstpost: Can you brief us about Dimension Data’s India strategy and its offerings.

DD: Dimension Data has been in this country for more than 20 years so it has been one of the key players in the infrastructure space working around networks, security, virtualisation, server, storage, etc. While those are components that make up your data centre, the whole philosophy with which we are working with now is providing services which would make the operations of the data centre useful to a company. Basically, we are offering end-to-end data centre solutions – spanning full lifecycle.

We step in as consultants and offer our customers advisory services. We then offer build services which can mean transform existing setups or build from scratch. After that, we have the capability to manage the supply part – technology and networking services. And, if customers want to do consolidation, virtualization all of that – we deliver products and software licenses in that area. We have professional services where we help implement this. We have managed services where we take on the responsibility and manage it fully. So, in the infrastructure space -- right from strategy to implementation to lifecycle management -- the whole cycle is something that we offer.

We can manage client’s IT infrastructure; it could be in the data centre, it could be in branches, it could just be overseeing its network. Dimension Data has a global service centre based out of Bangalore, which manages such services for customers across all of Asia-Pacific. Dimension Data has 13 data centres globally. In addition to this, in India the company has six data centres in association with BSNL. We have our cloud platform installed in 50 locations across the world, one of them in India.

Which verticals Dimension Data is targeting in India?

We see a lot of activities in sectors, including BFSI, manufacturing, telecom, public sector & governments, and service providers.

The datacentre market here got really hot after this ecommerce wave in India. Isn’t Dimension Data betting on this sector?

With one of our divisions, IT-as-a-service, we are coming out with offerings that are called “digital initiatives.” For example, if a CIO wants to open up a B2B or B2C store front or procurement portal, we can then help them bring to the market these sort of solutions. We think at this stage more of a mid-market bend coming out with a number of partners where we will host those solutions on our platform and enable them for the customers.

Our cloud services have really taken off in the last 18 months Dimension Data

Shiva Sankar, director-next generation data centre solutions, Dimension Data India

In the enterprise segment, where do you see most of the businesses coming from?

The mid-market is a extremely important segment for Dimension Data. That’s the segment where we see the maximum run rate coming. Our target customers are Rs 1,000-Rs 2,500-crore companies which are seeing growth at a consistent 15-18% year-on-year. That is the place from where these mid-sized firms look to scale up, and that’s where Dimension Data comes into picture.

Can you name some of your top clients? Where does Dimension Data stand in terms of customers in India?

The total number of customers Dimension Data has in India is 2000+. We have 82 cloud customers here. In India, we have a more than fair share of the government, public sector.

There are some interesting central and state government projects we are currently working. There are certain applications from the Prime Minister’s Office that are running on our data centre. We can say that right from the largest bank in the country to the smallest bank in the country, all are our customers. We are also working with one of the hottest real-estate startups in India.

All the data centres that we have in India are in collaboration with BSNL. The space is owned by BSNL, while Dimension Data runs the whole data centre. With BSNL being a state-run operator, it’s easier for us to approach the government organisations, and partner with them.

We also see huge opportunity in ‘Digital India’ and e-governance initiatives. That will use quite an amount of infrastructure. We are already in talks with the government.

Netmagic, one of the most popular cloud vendor which is also part of NTT Group, looks quite aggressive in terms of the number of developments taking place. And, Dimension Data is also about cloud. So, there could be strong chances of you two competing with each other in the market.

Netmagic is one of the companies owned by NTT Group-owned NTT Communications -- which has about 30 data centres around the world. Netmagic was a strategic acquisition for NTT Communications as it wanted to enter the data centre space in India. Their chart term primarily is hosting. Dimension Data is more technology consulting related.

There are startups that just want someone to give them the right level of availability, space, storage, and that’s it. As they mature, they probably need someone who can do more than just hosting. Netmagic addresses a segment of our market that requires some basic services and as the customers mature they need more comprehensive managed services, more automation services. They will then obviously migrate to our full set of featured services. There could be a very small section, overlap happens, but it is not a mainstay of our daily operation. It is largely complementary. In-fact, in many cases we share customers as well as opportunities.

How is Dimension Data placed vis-a-vis other competition?

We see IBM, HP, Wipro, TechMahindra, HCL -- all of the traditional ones -- as our competition. Actually, Dimension Data is competition to them now. Our DNA is all about network, servers, advanced infrastructure, and making them work together. If you consider the number of implementation that we have done over the years compared to our competitors and that capability, the partnership that we have in the market, the level of experience, then we will be the best choice.

In the IaaS space, when we talk about AWS and Microsoft Azure from a regional perspective, we see these players offering very standardized solutions, in-flexible delivery models and that too at the lower onset of the so-called spectrum. They may have unique features in terms of data residency, in terms of security, in terms of additional value add, but they may not be able to offer customized offerings that the public sector e-governance requires. Also, in terms of security the level of scrutiny other bigger players may not be able to give - we can.

Do you partner with other vendors to offer end-to-end solutions? Can you name them?

We have got global partners such as Cisco, EMC, VMware, NetApp, among others. We also work with some Indian independent software vendors for hosting solutions. We do partner with startups and other vendors as and when required.

How are you performing in the market?

We are a privately-held company growing at a healthy rate. We have been doing infrastructure management as a service for quite some time. The cloud services we offer have really taken off in the last 18 months.

Our growth will come now more from services. The infrastructure will continue, but the extraordinary growth will come from services, and cloud is part of services. Our services portfolio includes – consulting, infrastructure services, and management services. The consulting service is always a long lead activity and will take time to reach its peak.

What’s next for Dimension Data?

Currently with our consulting services, we are getting into a space where we will reach out and start offering services around sizing the application on the infrastructure that customers want to run it. We are very clear that we are in the technology consulting space, not in the application or business processes space.

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