Sunil Gupta, known as the man who has built and run the most data centers in India, is the President and COO of Netmagic Solutions, an NTT Communications Company. With unparalleled credentials in an industry that’s barely over a decade old, Sunil is the right expert to guide a data center business from a macro and micro perspective, having built and run 12 data centers spread over more than 12,00,000 sqft. In his role as the President and COO, Sunil is responsible for charting the course for all its services in the IDC and IT managed services space with specific focus on the profitability and operations of its datacenter business. Since his joining, Netmagic has been on a higher trajectory of growth with three-fold increase in turnover and customer base, and tripling of employee strength. Within the organization, Sunil was responsible for the rollout of revamped and integrated ERP, CRM and many of the underlying OSS / BSS automation systems. Sunil’s data center experience straddles the entire lifecycle management including business planning, sales, business development, data center construction and operationalization, customer service delivery and revenue assurance.
Our domain expertise, engineering and support capabilities make us ‘Globally Present, Locally Relevant’
In a career spanning 21 years, Sunil spent 10 years at Reliance Communications as Senior Vice President and Business Head of their Data Center Business Unit. He has also held several senior executive positions at Global Telecom Services, Iris Software and Angel Solutions. Sunil is a regular speaker and panelist at major industry seminars and trade shows, and has spoken at events such as Gartner Infrastructure Operations and Data Center Summit, CIO Leadership Summit, Interop, Datacenter Dynamics, Banknet, among others. He is also the author of “Financial model for understanding data center investments”, an in-depth mathematical model aimed to help CIOs make datacenter investment decisions. Sunil has an Engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunications as well as an MBA degree in Marketing Management. When not indulging in his technology and business passion, Sunil is often seen with a book in hand. Among his favorites are The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and Alchemist. Another of his loves is Hindi movie songs and Ghazals, and is known to bring down the house when he jams with his 50-member karaoke gang.
Q: QWhat are the areas of technology that Netmagic is addressing? Where according to you do the big opportunities lie?
A: Having catered to enterprise requirements of IT Infrastructure for over a decade-and-a-half, Netmagic has constantly endeavored to offer the best of solutions and support to its end customers. We cater to the diverse requirements for IT Infrastructure across technology stacks, ranging from pure play services such as co-location and dedicated hosting, to new age deployment models namely, Cloud and virtualization, DR on Cloud, Storage-as--Service, amongst others, to management of the entire hosted IT setup. Netmagic has also invested in bringing innovative solutions to the market. It is for instance, India’s first Cloud service provider to offer IaaS solutions, the country’s first performance Storage-as-a-Service facilitating metered IOPS, India’s first Cloud service provider to be CSA Star certified and the nation’s first modular datacenter, to name a few.
In terms of the big opportunities in the future, we are seeing a growing adoption of Cloud-based services across enterprises, with sectors like MICE, Telecom and IT/ITeS driving the consumption trends. Netmagic has also recently come out with Remote Infrastructure Monitoring and Management (RIMM) services and we foresee a lot of Global RIMM projects being outsourced. The more regulated sectors of manufacturing and BFSI are also investing more in consolidating and gradually upgrading their IT Infrastructure, and with the growing demand for ERP/CRM and core banking solutions, the investments on the IT Infrastructure side are bound to grow. I would like to add here that Netmagic’s customers have played a big role in shaping our services with their consistent feedback and all these innovations and opportunities have been largely based on user inputs.
Q: What are the solutions you are providing in the IMS, hosting, Cloud space? Why do you call yourself an ‘Evolution Partner’? What does this mean to a customer?
A:At the core of every Netmagic service offering lie eight datacenters that are the ‘nerve centers’ of the company’s operations. In the hosting space, Netmagic offers dedicated and managed models, built on enterprise-grade technology stacks. In the cloud computing and virtualization space, Netmagic provides IaaS-based solutions for Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud models. We also offer innovative storage solutions over the Cloud for object level and performance storage requirements. We also support businesses by ensuring seamless operations in the OPEX model, through our DR onCloud offering. On the managed services front, we offer monitoring and management of all aspects of hosted infrastructure including OS, DB, storage, network and application. We also offer perimeter security solutions viz. WAF, DDoS mitigation and VAPT, among others. All managed services are delivered in shared, dedicated and Hybrid NOC models, besides SOC services.
To answer the second part of the question, Netmagic partners with enterprises right from the stage of planning to architecting the right solution, right sizing and migrating the hosted infrastructure and supporting the solution accordingly. Our domain expertise has been developed over the years with the right mix of industry best practices related to service delivery, service operations, ongoing security and compliance support and relevant industry certifications, honors and affiliations. All this, coupled with a sound technology partnership with leading OEMs and a channel/strategic alliance network makes Netmagic’s value proposition all the more compelling and convincing.
Q: In your view what is Netmagic’s edge in the market? What are you doing better than other tech providers?
A:Netmagic, post being an NTT Communications Group Company, offers the promise of an agile and flexible organization with strong financial parents. Courtesy this, our customers can now access NTT Communications’ global datacenter and Cloud infrastructure, and by leveraging the unique skill sets of other NTT Corp group companies, we are capable of delivering a solution that has a mix of infrastructure, application and software specifics. This, coupled with our own domain expertise, engineering and support capabilities makes us ‘Globally Present, Locally Relevant’ and a one-stop shop for enterprise IT requirements.
We have, over the last 17 years, endeavored to improve the services that we deliver to enterprise customers by investing in tools (a combination of home-grown and enterprise-grade tools) that enable the automation of processes that improve efficiency and reduce human error. Netmagic is one of the very few datacenter services companies in India to have a full-fledged Research and Development (R&D) team, which is behind some of the disruptive technologies in the DC industry. These include the Netmagic Tiered Secure Storage, SecureAT (First-Of-Its-Kind Web Application Firewall Platform in India), SimpliCloud (built for mission critical workloads) and several others.
Our innovative offerings, combined with our one-of-its-kind operations methodology, differentiates us from competition. Netmagic was voted as the best provider of datacenter and cloud services in India by the CIO community at the recent CIO Choice 2015 Awards.
Q: How have the requirements of customers changed over the past few years? How is Netmagic geared up to address the dynamic and demanding user environment?
A: When we started out, enterprises were apprehensive about hosting their data off-premises. However, with the changing dynamics of the business environment across industries and a number of technology platforms nearing end of life support, the demand for third party DC and Cloud services has increased manifold. The proliferation of mobility and the maturity of disruptive business models such as e-commerce has increased the need for adaptive, scalable and responsive IT Infrastructure solutions. The stress on improving business margins and increased productivity has only boosted the cause of IT Infrastructure outsourcing and created a steady demand for Managed Hosting and /or Infrastructure Management Services.
Netmagic has always been cognizant of these changing perceptions and has been at the forefront of fulfilling the customers’ ever evolving demands. By providing access to skilled resources in a shared model, we have been able to reduce the TCO for managing hosted IT infrastructure without compromising on service SLAs that an enterprise business demands. We have honed diverse expert skill sets across the IT infrastructure stack with more than 60 percent of the human resource dedicated to customer service and support operations, and 100 percent of this workforce certified for at least one technology platform or process framework. We invest heavily in R&D and work extensively with our customers to develop innovative solutions and services to cater to their demands.
Q: Netmagic’s focus has shifted from the Indian market to a wider landscape. How has this altered the solutions portfolio?
A: Netmagic is today part of the NTT Communications group and our 1400+ customers enjoy access to 130 datacenters globally and the financial stability and scale that the parent company NTT Corporation brings onto the table. With a global portfolio of diversified IT companies Netmagic/ NTT can provide end-to-end IT solutions to customers—from the Network to datacenters to Infrastructure management to application services. As an organization, we have always focused on building our managed services capability to handle and support mission-critical IT infrastructure for our enterprise customers. Our services range from the basic colocation to the innovative and flexible Cloud, where you can choose from Public/Private/Hybrid models based on what works best for you.
The important point to note is the choice of services available to address specific requirements and the flexibility in the engagement model–both financial and service delivery.This is how, as part of the NTT group we are also uniquely positioned to address all the ICT needs of an enterprise.
Q: What are some of the key challenges that tech companies are going to face in the next 12 months?
A: Among the many technological challenges to come in 2015, enterprises must digitally transform their businesses or get tossed aside. Some of the Challenges that will be faced in 2015:
- Big Data and Data Analytics - 2014 was the year in which we saw companies beginning to adopt means to derive meaningful insights from multiple data sources. This will grow in 2015 and in the years to come with the IoT (Internet Of things) on a rise. As the number of devices that connect to the Internet increase, a data explosion (more so with unstructured data) will take place. This will enhance the need to analyze this data in real time.
- Data Privacy and Sovereignty - With service providers going increasingly global, data sovereignty is becoming a matter of concern. Increasingly, organizations will have to containerize their data in sandboxed environments which cannot cross geographies. Organizations will be tasked with safeguarding their business interests in the wake of increasing risk in terms of security and compliance.
- Consolidating Providers - With more and more applications moving on to the Cloud and a plethora of Cloud service providers coming up with their unique offerings either from the IaaS, PaaS or SaaS space, enterprise customers eventually end up using more than one provider. This is creating a need for a common interface that spans multiple service provider platforms, or offers services from other players and helps move workloads across providers if the need arises.
- Mobile Device Management - Corporate IT users are increasingly accessing applications and data from their own smartphones and tablet devices and not those provided by employers. This is creating a headache for IT managers who have to control a range of devices and operating systems—from Apple to Android, BlackBerry and the Windows Phone. Furthermore, it is not just about managing devices, but also applications and the information that sits on them. These business challenges are posing difficulties for IT managers who are getting into a reactive mode owing to technology disruption.
Q: What in your view are going to be the most disruptive technologies of 2015?
A:Some of the key trends expected to gain significance in 2015 will be:
- Big Data - Big data has been spoken about in datacenter circles as a game changer. Hence datacenters in the coming years must rise to that challenge. In 2015, BigData, with all its computing and storage needs, will be driving the development of storage hardware, network infrastructure and new ways of handling ever increasing computing needs.
- Internet of Things - One of the biggest disruptions that is about to happen is the Internet of Things (IoT). Proliferation of sensor devices sending data by the second to a Cloud back-end and being analyzed in real-time via Big Data analytics is definitely changing the way datacenters are being perceived.
- Software-Defined Datacenter - In 2015 and beyond, datacenters will have to gear up to support this software-defined world. Despite standards and guidelines for effective use in existence currently, best practices are still evolving and will take another 2-3 years to mature.
- Intercloud - As Lines of Business (LoBs) start defining IT policies and shadow IT becomes an accepted reality, the need is arising for a single interface to manage infrastructure from different providers. Providers that offer cross-Cloud orchestration or Interclouds will enable their customers to provision and manage infrastructure across various providers all through a single web interface or app.
- Disaster Recovery - Strategies related to disaster recovery and business continuity will gain prominence in the coming years. In 2015, planning for all the possible disasters will continue to grow as a top priority for organizations, prompting enterprises to lay special emphasis while choosing the locations, building designs and standards. Datacenter trends will change due to this newfound focus on disaster avoidance.
- Hybrid Cloud - Hybrid Cloud will be the biggest gainer in 2015 and beyond. More and more medium and large-sized organizations are discovering that a hybrid approach provides a near-perfect combination of cost, performance and scalability. We too feel that big organizations with regulatory and compliance restrictions will increasingly adopt a hybrid Cloud approach to move to the Cloud.
- Web-Scale IT - Web-scale IT is all of the things happening in large Cloud services firms that enables them to achieve extreme levels of computing and storage delivery. In 2015, due to web-scale IT, organizations will move to the next level of infrastructure automation, the level that understands the requirements of applications and responds to those requirements in real time With web-scale IT, datacenters will have to scale performance proportionally with the addition of resources, adapt to the needed degree of business change, remain resilient in the face of infrastructure fragility and be operationally efficient as the size of the system grows.