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Tata Communications looks to expand private cloud services portfolio

Tata Communications looks to expand private cloud services portfolio
Tata Communications’ Srinivasan CR

Tata Communications, the telecom arm of the diversified Tata Group, is expanding its portfolio of private cloud services as digitalisation efforts continue to accelerate hybrid cloud momentum in the country, a senior executive told TechCircle.

“We are in a constant phase of augmenting our services as we look to deliver newer cloud capabilities such as Internet of Things, API services, etc.,” said Srinivasan CR, chief digital officer at Tata Communications. 

The firm has also invested around Rs 160 crore for geographical expansion and for products and services since last year, he added.

It also recently hired most of the 150-strong research and development team in Chennai, who are creating new cloud capabilities in alignment with market demand, Srinivasan said.

Cloud services

The company, which has been offering its cloud services under the IZO brand name for the last four years, has a cloud connectivity service, a cloud platform and a direct private cloud service.

However, Srinivasan clarified that the company doesn’t compete with public cloud players such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle but instead provides private cloud services and support for customers who want to adopt public cloud along with hyperscalers and edge cloud providers.

As opposed to a public cloud service, a private model is based on an architecture and strategy under which IT services such as compute or storage are offered for the dedicated use of a single enterprise.

Under its cloud connectivity service, the company provides network services for cloud solutions. “Think of our global network services as a dedicated strong internet connection for all your cloud solutions including moving or migrating to a public cloud environment. We offer hybrid connectivity and integration as well,” Srinivasan said.

The company’s connectivity service has many partnerships including with public cloud firms such as Alibaba, Microsoft Azure and Oracle.

Under its cloud platform, the company offers three different versions of virtual compute including VMware, Kernel-based Virtual Machine (for Linux users) and Microsoft’s Hyper-V. “Customers can choose from these three spins of compute capability as per their choice,” Srinivasan explained. 

Storage services

On the storage front, the company offers block storage, flash storage and object storage. Object storage is for customers who want to retain their data for a longer duration after capturing it, Srinivasan said, adding that it could be as simple as CCTV footage. 

He added that Aegis, SkyLab and AltBalaji were a few of its storage customers. “In the case of AltBalaji, they needed a storage service that could be scaled up immediately because of the demand and growing content library,” Srinivasan explained.

Besides these customers, the company’s storage service is seeing uptake by engineering companies.

“There has been a significant acceleration in the uptake for IZO cloud by corporates. In our Q1 results, we reported that IZO services grew by 188% year-on-year, so there is great potential for growth. One of our largest deployments has been for the government e-commerce/marketplace GeM for which we specifically built the community cloud,” Srinivasan said. 

He added that the community cloud has seen a lot of uptake by government departments and public sector undertakings including some smart city projects.

Azure database offering

The company also offers BigData with Hadoop including analytics and other database services. Besides these, it also runs a dedicated managed service for Azure and container-as-a-service (CaaS).

“Our dedicated service for Azure is a complete end-to-end, SLA-based one that redefines cloud strategy by giving customers access to expertise, infrastructure and control,” said Srinivasan.

Narayana Health is one the firm’s many clients that uses the Azure database.

Previously, the hospital chain used a mass of servers in local data centres to run mission-critical healthcare and business applications, as well as to store X-rays and scans, Srinivasan explained.

“This resulted in local telco links fail. They found that disparate systems lacking centralised management led to inefficiencies and poor productivity, while unmanaged localised routers increased the possibility of failure and security breaches,” Srinivasan added.

The hospital adopted Azure’s private cloud connect service. “Key business and clinical applications at Narayana Health, including electronic patient records, run in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Meanwhile, X-ray and scan files are stored on a picture and archiving communications system (PACS) in the main hospital. Our cloud service links every Narayana Health facility directly to the Microsoft Azure cloud for instant data access,” he said.

Besides healthcare, Tata Communications has clients from real estate, manufacturing and IT/ITes and a few startups.

The company currently offers its cloud services from 14 locations including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in India. Other locations outside the country are UK, Singapore, US, Germany, Malaysia and Dubai.

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