Vimal Venkatram, Country Manager, India, Snowflake

“Indian organisations were on a steady pace towards cloud adoption for the better part of the decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic that led to lockdowns this year has accelerated cloud adoption,” opines Vimal Venkatram, Country Manager -India, Snowflake. An experienced executive with over 15 years in the information technology industry, Vimal Venkatram is responsible for growing Snowflake’s business in India. Vimal specialises in data management solutions across all verticals such as retail, manufacturing and financial services, and has a deep regional experience, especially in India and Southeast Asia. In a conversation with CXO Outlook, Vimal Venkatram talks about India’s cloud computing market, changes in cloud computing adoption rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Snowflake’s Data Cloud Platform, and much more.


How much has the technology start-ups suffered due to COVID-19?

With over 9,300 tech start-ups, India continues to be the third-largest tech start-up ecosystem in the world. According to NASSCOM, 90 per cent of tech start-ups in India have registered a decline in their revenue during COVID-19. However, investments and start-ups showed resilience, as India saw a rapid shift to digital services and payments. NASSCOM found 50 per cent of tech start-ups have pivoted to new business opportunities, focusing on emerging technologies like Cloud, IoT, and AI. Due to COVID-19, companies focusing on growth sectors like EdTech, FinTech, and HealthTech are looking to register positive growth in the future.

Has there been an increase in cloud computing adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Indian organisations were on a steady pace towards cloud adoption for the better part of the decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic that led to lockdowns this year has accelerated cloud adoption. Since organisations have become more data-driven in their decision making, cloud technology has emerged as a front runner for the optimal harnessing of insights from data. According to IDC’s COVID-19 Impact on IT spending Survey, 64 per cent of Indian organisations were expected to increase demand for cloud computing, while 56 per cent anticipated a need for cloud software to support the new normal. Organisations in India have realised the benefits of moving to the cloud to acquire new customers, retain the existing customer base, and achieve above-average profitability. Sectors like education for online classes, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and media have seen rapid adoption of cloud-based solutions.

What is the size of the cloud computing market in India? How is it doing at present?

According to NASSCOM, India’s Public Cloud market stood at ₹ 170 billion in FY2020 and at a growth rate of ~30 per cent CAGR, which will reach ₹ 630 billion by FY2025. To adhere to the continued government restrictions on social distancing, CIOs in India will need to spend more on business continuity, remote working, and workforce collaboration. This means a shift in spending toward technologies such as Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), virtual private networks (VPN), and security. The overall cloud adoption in India has increased significantly, resulting in an increase in spending. This trend will continue as reliance on digital operations is on the rise.

How Snowflake is different from other players in the sector?

Snowflake’s Data Cloud enables organisations to securely share data across their business ecosystem. With its cloud-built architecture, data sharing eliminates the need to move or copy data. Those who are granted access simply reference the data in a controlled and secure manner, including across regions, cloud providers, and even companies. Snowflake provides the multi-cloud ability, data sharing capability, and easy-to-use service. The service is charged by per second billing, where the compute and storage operations are charged separately. Snowflake’s Data Cloud delivers seamless data collaboration, reduces costs, reveals new business insights, and helps strengthen business relationships. This is what sets us apart from the other industry players. Besides, Snowflake’s unique architecture enables customers to run multiple workloads across multiple teams without resource contention, thus maximising performance and efficiency. These include data engineering, data lake, data warehouse, data science, data applications, and data sharing. Start-ups that are already on the cloud can adopt Snowflake to manage their workloads. For traditional enterprise customers with on-premises data centres, this is a great way to move to the cloud seamlessly.

How do you ensure data security?

Snowflake is committed to the security of our customers and their data. Security was baked into Snowflake’s platform from the very beginning. Snowflake provides industry-leading features that ensure the highest levels of security for your account and users, as well as all the data you store in Snowflake. Some of the common security features that we provide in all Snowflake editions are:

  • End-to-End Encryption which means users’ communications are always encrypted and integrated with cloud provider private networking.
  • Fully Encrypted Storage which ensures that stored/saved data is always in encrypted form while handled by the Snowflake drivers and systems.
  • We have a built-in Strong Multi-Factor Authentication system which ensures that the data is safely integrated with user’s federated SSO and a user-friendly interface.
  • At Snowflake, we track every login, transaction, and data transfer. We also send a comprehensive report on all activities to the user’s security tools.
  • With our strong data security system and Role-Based Access Control feature, the user can control the data access as per their designation/role in the organisation.
  • In case of accidental loss of data or any other unprecedented situation, Snowflake provides options to ensure that the data can be recovered.

Snowflake meets NIST 800-145 requirements and is also FedRAMP ready. In addition, SOC 2 Type 2, PCI DSS compliance, and support for HIPAA compliance validate the level of security for Snowflake. We believe that our customers should focus on analysing their data rather than worrying about data security.

What is your advice to start-ups looking to navigate through this challenging time?

Companies need to keep customers at the centre of the conversation. There needs to be a focus on the changes to customer behaviours and requirements, as well as adapting to new business models. It is pertinent for companies to explore avenues for new opportunities and sectors with a focus on customer relevance.

Our advice to start-ups includes:

  • Increase digitisation by enabling and encouraging digitisation in impacted areas, for example, supply chain, local stores, etc.
  • Use cost-effective technology, such as cloud computing and data analytics.
  • Avoid incurring heavy investments in technology by leveraging scalable options.
  • Build partnership with technology solution providers, customers, and other stakeholders.
More About Vimal Venkatram

Before joining Snowflake in 2019, Vimal led the retail and manufacturing businesses for Mulesoft, a Salesforce company, across Southeast Asia. He also previously held senior positions with Oracle and Citrix. Vimal has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai and an MBA from the Welingkar Institute of Management in Mumbai. He is also a professional Tabla player who has performed on the global stage, trained under legends Ustad Alla Rakha and Pandit Arvind Mulgaonkar.

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