"We are working on the successful deployment of cloud, mobility and analytics, and moving towards sustaining both our business and IT," says Sachin Jain
CIO&Leader spoke to Sachin Jain, CIO-Global IT Operations & CISO at Evalueserve, as he shares his outlook on 'the year that was' for technology and business.
Tell us about some of the IT implementations that you completed in the year 2016.
We are working on the successful deployment of cloud, mobility and analytics, and moving towards sustaining both our business and IT. A very interesting point is how do we store and manage the data within Evalueserve or how do you manage growth in the current scenario. At Evalueserve, we can’t be fully on cloud. Hence, we need to figure out how we manage data between on-premise and cloud. Do we have to maintain a hybrid setup? You need to have the right balance and the right mix of technologies. You also need to ensure the performance that you will need to run some of the applications generating data. To do this, we have adopted flash storage. Flash was one of the early adopters to give that performance edge to users so that they do not feel that slowness when they work on apps, systems, during deployment of tools and technologies. That is one thing where you need to give a high performing compute to your user. This is one area we have worked on and now majority of our operations are happening on flash. Flash is no longer a costly proposition and is turning out to be a good case study for us and is perfect-fit both for our usability perspective as well as from a cost perspective.
What are some of the business critical applications that you have moved to cloud?
In the last few years, we have moved a few critical workloads to the cloud and these are both client-facing as well as internal production environment applications. For example, in the case of an analytics platform, one may need high performance, compute and process/run these applications as well as massive storage platforms where you can store and process that data. Initially, it sounds like you will not be able to run this on cloud successfully and you will have challenges around performance specifically. One of the reasons for us to move to the cloud is to deliver on performance across geographies and between our own delivery locations. We could solve our performance issues and regulatory challenges around data storage.
We launched a new business model last year and acquired a company in the healthcare analytics space. Both these platforms are running completely on the cloud. For example, the retail model which we launched last year is completely on cloud. For us, this is a next gen business model. How do we tap some of the markets directly where we do not have sales presence and how we deliver the flexibility and experience to our clients such that it becomes easy for them to request for a service or buy a service?
Apart from that, we have done work on security. We have taken a mixed approach by using cloud as well as on-premise. Whether it is related to security around mobility, multi-factor authentication, identity and access management, we have done some deployments which are unique.
What’s your take on IoT?
Our industry will benefit more from a project and revenue aspect. In our company, we do not see much adoption or scope for IoT as a use case, but you can look from a client-offering perspective because we run analytics as a business vertical. We also see a lot of scope because when you work with companies in the consumer goods healthcare, retail and telecom space, you would see lot of data getting generated. How do you analyze this data? How do you introduce business intelligence and how do you run IoT or analytics is something that will come as a business to us? That’s where we see the benefit, and hence, we are trying to leverage our own analytics practice and offer it as a service to our clients.
What’s your criterion for selecting IT vendor/solutions partner?
One of the things that we have followed in the last 15-16 years is to find the right partner and build a partnership in such a way that the partners share an equal interest in your success. It is not about sharing profits but about retaining that business, clients and continuously offering the required services. It is also about creating reliability and confidence in the customer. That is something which we have created. One, you need to see the skill sets people have, partner’s influence on new technologies, and how quickly they can adopt and train their own workforce and transform their own business. In this process, we see a few partners still working with us and supporting bigger brands. We had to look at different solution providers and products. Some of the key things that we look in a vendor/partner are technical knowledge and their work or knowledge of different platforms and deployments. If they can bring such an expertise, then successful deployment can happen at our side. The third is the kind of hold they have, the kind of relationship they have with the technology vendor or the OEM, and the kind of support they can get us. It’s about getting the right solution at the right price.
Do you give an opportunity to startups that promise innovation?
We give equal importance to startups in terms of viability of their products and how they fit into our business model. While we may not look at solutions in areas such as application development, tools and technologies, we may use productivity platforms by these startups in order to improve efficiency and security within our organizations. We are at a stage where we try to adopt newer technologies faster and gain competitive advantage. Obviously, you need to assess before taking a call.
What according to you are some of the tech trends for 2017?
Companies will have to deal with the pressure of reducing budgets and doing more in terms of bringing newer platforms, innovation in business – all these within one single budget. There is no long-term solution. For newer companies, these things can be done at half the cost to achieve higher efficiency and productivity that will result in giving an edge over other solution providers. Additionally, companies will need to optimize their own setup and make it more efficient. I definitely see analytics, converged infrastructure and consolidation as some of the technology trends paving the way for the year, 2017.