PETER MOORE, Managing Director (Worldwide public sector, Asia Pacific and Japan), Amazon Web Services (AWS), says he’s not worried about competition. In an interview with GEORGE MATHEW, Moore said: “We’re investing every month into additional capabilities. Every month we’re hiring more people.” Excerpts:
Your rival Walmart is taking over Flipkart. Do you expect any impact on your business?
Amazon retail is a different business to the Amazon Web Services business. So, that’s not the business that I’m involved in. What I can say is that the Indian market is a very big market and we are just one of the players. We just think that having many players in the market is actually a good thing because our focus is on our customers, and making sure that we’re serving our customers better than anyone else. We focus on our customers, and if we put all of that energy into serving our customers, our customers will decide who to use. So we don’t have to worry about our competition.
Where do you place India among other Asian countries? How important is India for you? How do you look at China or any other country?
We do business where customers want to use us. Even before we had our region launch in India, a large number of startups were using Amazon Web Services in Singapore. They are here, and many of them serve the global market. So they don’t really care where the services are being served from. That’s been true for more than a decade. Having a region in India really helps the government to use the cloud, because they wanted the region in their country. So I think it’s difficult to compare India with other countries as everyone is on a different timeline. But we passionately believe that India is going to be a very large market for us.
Are you looking at expansion? Have you identified any new areas in India?
Yes. Again, we don’t build capability and then hope people use it. Expansion of capability is based on how many people are using our services. So we are seeing a very rapid increase in that. So we are investing a lot into rapidly expanding our infrastructure here as well. It’s only Mumbai at the moment. In the future we might consider other locations, but for now our investment is in Mumbai for the infrastructure region. In terms of the customers that use us, as I mentioned, they are all across India. And we have six office locations in India, and I have people in every one of those office locations.
How much have you invested in India so far in web services? And do you plan to invest any more in the near future?
So, we are investing every year. It’s not about making some investment and then not continuing to invest, because as the number of users of our services increase, we have to increase our capacity. So we’re investing every month into additional capabilities. We have one region in India, which has two availability zones in different geographic locations. Each one of zones has multiple data centres, and each data server has thousands of servers. Every month we are putting new servers into those data centres. Every month we’re hiring more people. And so this is one of the very high growth markets for us, both in terms of investment we’re making, and also in the number of users using Amazon Web Services. I would think we’re certain among the largest foreign investors in India.
Amazon spent $6 billion in India. How much of this has come to your business?
We don’t break down the numbers. So, I can only tell you what we’ve publicly said. The actual investment in our infrastructure, we have two availability zones, each location has many data centres. And that’s a very very significant investment. I can’t tell you whether it’s a billion or $2 billion dollars, but it’s a massive investment.
If you have your infrastructure too far apart, you cannot synchronise your applications across such a long distance, because of the load. So that’s not a good solution. We may in the future invest in another set of availability zones in another location in India, but that would be based on the total demand for our services in and around that area. One of the criteria that we look for when we’re building our infrastructure is stable government, good supply of clean electricity, and also where the under-sea cables come into the country. So you can imagine the reason why most data centres are built in Mumbai.
Have you talked to Indian universities?
Yeah absolutely. We’ve got around tens and thousands of students in India that are involved in our AWS Educate programme, which is where we interact with each of these students. Many of the IITs are actually using us today. There are a number of other universities as well. They’re training their graduates so that when they leave their university, they’ll have work based skills that are relevant to the market.
Are you in a position to improve the governance structure in the country?
When I think about governance, the things that I think about are citizens demanding better access to information, and that is what is driving government decisions. They are asking for more transparency, and they are asking for services that can eliminate the middleman. So a large number of states, including Maharashtra, are looking at using cloud as a way to very quickly take existing government services and make them available to citizens, either through a web page or on their mobile device. So Maha Online as an example, they are a semi-government body, but they serve the Maharashtra government and they host hundreds of applications. They’re helping the Maharashtra government to move them to Amazon Web Services. They’ve just signed up to doing that as part of this empanelment that the Maharashtra government is being through.
Do you really think ease of doing business in India as improved, or is it the same?
That has definitely improved. I think bureaucracy is just getting easier to work with. I think that there’s been a definite shift. The Modi policies have been helpful. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the commitment and the intelligence of many of seniors in the service. They are not uneducated people. They’re smart people who know what to do.
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