Digital Transformation Interview

Technology and Business Should Go Hand in Hand

With the acceleration in the DigitalX in India, the middle layer plays a vital role in ensuring the content moves faster giving digital experience instantly. Zenlayer’s Managing Director – India, Amit Singh explains how it happens and what is the play of Zenlayer. Excerpt.

What is your observation of the state of digital transformation in the region?

A few years back the conversation was only limited to the living rooms or to the offices where people used to talk about ‘India needs to be a digital economy’. That has been changing really fast and the pandemic outbreak has also worked as an accelerator for this.
With the government jumping in on the Digital India Initiatives and so many other digital transformation goals, suddenly the country is talking about building a digital infrastructure. People are accepting the digital economy faster than ever. The example is the Digital Payment – how it took a precedent and nowadays you see people don’t even carry cash with them owing to the acceptance and trust on the platforms.
This is going to improve with the speed and connectivity coming into play. We have staggering population of 1.32 billion with 800 million Internet users. People are streaming videos over internet, kids on the street recording videos and putting it online platform. It is a big change. So, the entire business and the ecosystem is moving on a digital transformation journey. Common people along with the industries, whether it is healthcare, government, energy, education, etc., all are jumping onto it.
During the covid, the education and online tutorials embraced the digital platforms on a major way. It was not restricted to just the major cities but entered the hinterlands and the rural areas too.
Our belief is that the country is preparing itself at the grassroot level for a big digital transformation and somewhere companies like Zenlayer, IT industry and other enablers are pushing this ahead. With 4G boom, and 5G on its way to become mainstream, digital transformation is further going to change the Indian landscape completely.

“A CIO must now shift their tunnel vision to focus more on growing the business and bottom line of the organization.”

Amit Singh, Managing Director, Zenlayer Networks India Private Limited

With some of the announcement recently including 5G spectrum bidding and policy of connecting credit cards with UPI payments can further push the digitization, what do you say?

Absolutely. In addition to this, the government is bringing in legislature towards data localization. Putting these things together, the datacentre landscape would be much bigger now in the country which would further push the entire goal of achieving digital economy. All the major cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and the Tier-2 city like Guwahati are seeing new data centres building up.
I remember when video came in, it was touted to be for the youngsters but today everyone is consuming video content.


What is your observation on the 5G revolution in the country?  

5G is only going to take us to the next step.  4G was more of video but 5G is going to be more extensively on video with live streaming, live conferencing, etc. But for a country like India which is so huge, 5G infrastructure needs to be of that size – not just the mobile ecosystem needs to be 5G enabled but also the mobile towers, which need to be fiber connected. You cannot just offer 5G with radio towers.
Even the telcos are talking about building infrastructure for 5G. If you go to a rural sites, you don’t see a radio or RF tower. It is all fiber connected towers. That is the first step towards changing this landscape. With time, the cost of switching to a 5G handset would also be very minimal. The reason why 4G worked so well in the country was that there was absolutely near zero switching cost from 2G and 3G to 4G handsets.

What would be the challenge for the CIOs of the B2B companies who are enabling their organization to adapt to new technologies to provide services to the consumers?

Honestly, CIOs are sitting on hot seats. Everybody wants to optimise cost. So, cost pressures are there. They have to manage the digital workforce, compliance, data security, agility, external customers, internal customers, skill gaps, so and so forth. They have a long list to address. The biggest pressure for them is addressing skill gap. Getting the right skilled person for the right job is an important task for the CIO. A CIO must now shift their tunnel vision to focus more on growing the business and the bottom-line of the organization. Innovative CIOs have started thinking about  how they can help generating money from their activities and not just look at cutting cost.
Cutting cost is a very myopic kind of a step. They should not conclude project and move out. Instead, they should have a larger vision to see how they can continuously keep on improving and getting more bottom-line. They also need to think about integrating technology into the business aspects. Technology and business should go hand in hand.

“Internet of the current times is built more for availability. It is not built for performance and that is where Zenlayer comes as a relevant player.”

What is the play of Zenlayer in the shift of the country to the Digital Experience?

Our tagline is improving digital experiences instantly. We strongly believe in that. Internet of the current times is built more for availability. It is not built for performance and that is where Zenlayer comes as a relevant player. We are talking about improving performance and improving digital experience of every user. We achieve that by using our massively distributed edge cloud infrastructure across the length and breadth of the globe. We have some 270 plus PoPs. This ensures that the Internet not just continues to be available, but it continues to improve their performance – whether it is about watching a video online, playing a game, doing some fintech transactions, etc. We ensure that the end-user experience is instant. We will continue to invest in building our edge datacenters.

What is the competitive advantage of Zenlayer and where would you continue to invest and focus?

 We are neither a telco nor a hyperscaler. We are somewhere in between. So, we tend to bring the best of both the worlds. In terms of telco, we offer network connectivity and in terms of hyperscalers, we are able to offer compute, storage and all other things that the customers need.
We are very agile company. We have a global network which is spread all across and helps any enterprise who wants to come into India or goes out of India or goes into many multiple markets. We ensure to build network and make them available on the click of a button.  It is all self-automated. A customer can ask for anything – an user compute resource anywhere at any time. He just needs to go online click on the services. We support a lot of instant deployments. Any enterprise who needs a local delivery, instant connectivity, monitor and add visibility of the entire network, we are the best solution provider whom they can rely on.  
Our biggest strength is that we have a very conducive business relationship with all the datacenters, all the telcos and all the ISPs in the country. For example, we are the only company who has eight PoPs only in Mumbai with 1000 plus racks.   
We are the middle tier between the telcos, DCs, CDNs and the consumers. That is what helps us to ensure that the user gets a better experience.
The top five gaming companies in the world uses our services. Similarly, the biggest crypto companies, fintech companies and blockchain companies use our services.

Any count you have in terms of your PoPs in the country?

Globally we are operating out of 270 PoPs, but our target is to reach 300 pops by the end of this year. From India stand point, we have 30+ PoPs covering the length and breadth of the country including Tier-2 and -3 locations like Bhopal, Nagpur, Patna, Agra and Lucknow. We want to ensure that we cover at least 70% of the Internet population and deliver the content under 20 milli seconds across the globe.

What is your strength in Colo and Cloud ecosystem?

In terms of Colo, globally, we work with everyone. Recently we got the Best Partner Award from Equinix for 2021. In India we work with all the datacenters including Netmagic, Sify, CTRLs, Yotta, STT, NxTra, etc.   
In the cloud ecosystem, we have global partnership with AWS, GCP, Azure, Alibaba, Tensing, etc. Similarly, on the hardware platform side, we work with Dell Technologies, Intel, Cloudflare, etc. 
We keep on reinventing and innovating ourselves. We also launched our DDoS platform as well.   

What is the piece of advice you have for your customers?

My recommendation would be to start focusing more on the edge computing and ensure that the digital experience of your external customers is the core focus of your initiative.

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