With 120,000 organizations using Kafka, Confluent sees vast growth potential

“Our main challenge is resource constraints, not opportunity constraints,” says Paul Mac Farland when asked about the challenges him and Confluent are facing currently. Recently CIO&Leader sat down with Paul where he discussed the road map he has envisioned for not just the company but also for the products company offers.

Paul Mac Farland is the Senior Vice President of Partner and Innovation Ecosystem at Confluent. He leads the global Partner & Innovation Ecosystem team and has played a key role in developing Confluent’s partner programs to enhance real-time data streaming solutions. Excerpts below.

Paul Mac Farland
SVP of Partner and Innovation Ecosystem

CIO&Leader: Is the expansion plan for Kafka in India different from its global strategy?

Paul Mac Farland: I handle partnerships, so I can address this from that perspective. Essentially, we offer Confluent Platform on-premise and Confluent Cloud. In India, Confluent Cloud is available in all major data centers where CSPs operate, including Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune. We have a presence wherever Google, Azure, or AWS has a presence. As these companies invest in various markets, we follow. We provide both options. India, being a significant adopter of the cloud, has many deployments on the cloud. Organizations established before 2008 often adopt both the Confluent Platform for their data centers and bridge that to the cloud. We support private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud setups, but the end goal is usually multi-SaaS, with connectivity to all SaaS services.

CIO&Leader: Which product is most popular in India, and how do you plan to promote it further?

Paul Mac Farland: Confluent Cloud is the most popular and is growing at an impressive rate. We have a substantial direct sales force in India and collaborate with local and global systems integrators like TCS, Deloitte, Accenture, and EY. We focus on training these integrators to drive business outcomes for customers, which in turn generates revenue for us as customers utilize our services.

CIO&Leader: Are there any challenges you are currently facing?

Paul Mac Farland: Our main challenge is resource constraints, not opportunity constraints. With 120,000 organizations using Kafka globally, we have only captured a small portion. There are 600,000 people on LinkedIn with Apache Kafka skills, and 140,000 of those are in India. Many start with open-source Kafka but quickly switch to Confluent when they realize open-source doesn’t meet their business goals. As a public company for two years and nine years in business, our focus is on sustaining growth.

CIO&Leader: Are there plans to work on sustainability and cost efficiency?

Paul Mac Farland: We are committed to lowering the total cost of our product to make it accessible for all use cases. This focus on cost translates into smarter use of hardware and software, reducing our environmental impact. In India, we focus on partners, particularly in the SI community, who are capable and certified to deliver our services. We prioritize about 60 of our 1,000 global partners, with four major focus partners in India, excluding global integrators. These partners help us convert open-source Kafka to Confluent, maintaining deployments and expanding use cases.

CIO&Leader: Why are some organizations still hesitant to adopt Confluent Kafka compared to the open-source version?

Paul Mac Farland: Many organizations start with open-source technologies like Apache Kafka. However, some now skip this step and start directly with Confluent Cloud, similar to how they might use S3 instead of building their own service. Product-led growth is crucial for us, and we offer basic clusters and Confluent for Startups to accommodate smaller organizations.

CIO&Leader: How do you address cybersecurity concerns?

Paul Mac Farland: We have a comprehensive website listing all our certifications. Capturing digital natives, regulated markets, and startups is essential for us. Digital natives push our scalability, regulated markets focus on security, and capturing startups ensures relevance. These areas are mutually beneficial, enhancing our overall security and scalability.

CIO&Leader: What is your strategy and roadmap for the Indian market?

Paul Mac Farland: We have successfully captured the Kafka and streaming data movement markets. While Kafka has become commoditized and prolific, we aim to focus on processes during data movement. Our goals include creating intelligent alerts, analytics, data quality, and transformation. As data flows through Confluent to multiple destinations, it is more efficient to clean and process the data within Confluent before distributing it, ensuring better data quality across services.

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