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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Pradeep Rathinam, CEO of Aditi Technologies (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd 2012

As more and more companies transition to cloud computing, the demand for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) will continue to grow. That will pose no problem for Aditi Technologies, which is already among the top three PaaS solution providers in the world and among the top five Microsoft technology partners in the United States. Aditi offers solutions to its clients in four domains:  digital marketing, cloud solutions, enterprise social and product engineering.

Sramana Mitra: Hi Pradeep. Please give us some context about Aditi as well as you personally.

Pradeep Rathinam: Sure. Aditi is a cloud platform solution provider. It’s been in business for over 15 years. I joined the company around five and a half to six years ago. The business this year will cross north of $100 million in revenue with over 1,500 people across the globe, with offices in Seattle, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Mountain View, London and then a reasonably large presence in India. We have 1,000 people between Bangalore and Chennai, and our new development center in Kuala Lumpur. Our genesis in this business came from a strong catechism with Microsoft. My founder Pradeep Singh set this up in ’94; however, he went off to run a company called Talisma. So, this business has been a very small business serving Microsoft and building products for Microsoft from ’94 to 2003 or 2004. I don’t have much context prior to my time, but in 2006, we were a $30 million business and we’ve grown through the worst economic times, primarily, as a Microsoft-centric solution provider helping software companies build engineering teams by augmenting them and building products for them as well as helping enterprises build custom application solutions in the areas of portal, business intelligence and what have you.

In the last year, we saw a fundamental shift in what was happening around the cloud space, and we made big bet to buy a company called Cumulux, which was Microsoft’s top cloud solution provider. As a result of that shift, we shifted the entire focus of our business and our model to say, where do we focus in the next 10 years? In the five to ten years, we see the cloud as a disruptive technology platform and so we made a bet to move all of our infrastructure, our services and all of our focus on where we are going to drive our business going forward. And 70% of our new customers are going to be on the cloud. Specific to the cloud, we bet on the Microsoft platform, which is Azure. We are one of the top three providers of Microsoft Azure services probably in the world. That’s kind of a background of the company and the business.

SM: OK. Let me double click down on Azure then, since that sounds like one of the key core competencies of your business. Why don’t you talk a little bit about how you see the industry around platform-as-a-service in general in the cloud space and then, of course, speak about Azure in particular? What trends are you seeing? What are some of your observations of what’s going on in the business?

PR: I do think that platform-as-a-service is a unique asset that offers an application platform plus a managed cloud infrastructure. So, if you run a software company, for example, you get a multi-tenanted cloud platform. You get a development and a run time in one room. You get a set of managed tools and services, which allows you to think about your business in a very different fashion and in a way that you can offer a differentiated solution to your customers. So, from a pure platform-as-a-service perspective, very few vendors have actually seen the end-to-end journey of what it means to take advantage of platform-as-a-service. We are one of those companies, which has bet its business in its current form on the Microsoft Azure platform-as-a-service. Let me give you a few example of what that means to businesses.

Let’s start with software businesses. A lot of software businesses that were small and serving a few enterprises or medium businesses and they had a model that was primarily designed to serve enterprises, ended up building infrastructures that were primarily single instance or something that was inexpensive to offer. But they were restricted in that they could only offer it to enterprises and could never really offer it to mid-market or small businesses because of cost of sale, cost of deployment, cost of building hardware, hostings and all that stuff. The platform-as-a-service offers a fundamental disruption in the way that software companies can SaaS-ify their applications and offer it at a lower cost to lower markets. So, the first thing it does is give you access to new markets. If you are a software provider serving an enterprise, and you want to offer your software to mid-market, it gives you an amazing amount of reach in the way that you can use the cloud platform to provide multi-tenancy.

That’s an example of how a software business could use the platform-as-a-service. Let me take through an enterprise scenario. Enterprises have a disparate set of applications. They have several applications in tens, maybe like 50, 40, whatever. Now, very few of them have broad usage, and what they end up doing is building out infrastructure for each app for optimal scale. It’s a huge capital expense today in the way hardware has been provisioned. In fact, when I go to a lot of enterprises, I often hear that it takes them five months, six months to provision new hardware. Their needs are a little bit different in that they may have some applications that are high traffic. Others are run by different needs, whether it’s integration or pure application aggregation, if you will, or the plethora of new devices that have hit the market, be it mobile or these other tablet devices. How do they bring all of those into an infrastructure that can enable them to use them more effectively? Again, platform-as-a-service today, the way we have implemented it, the way we go about our platform-as-a-service strategies across five core pockets, for the software industry, we think of SaaS. How do we SaaS-ify applications for software businesses to give them reach into new markets and primary provisions around time-to-market for them? And then in the enterprise space, we look at four buckets.

One is how do we enable applications to manage a spike in traffic? This is also true for Web-based businesses. So, if you have a Web-based business that have high traffic or mobile or social computing – for example, is one of our customers that gets peak workloads during promotions where we implement the management-based solutions. In all the other scenarios, the third pocket is computation from where you require high compute infrastructure in financial services to process information today, which often takes several days. You can actually use the platform-as-a-service computation infrastructure to get it done in hours and in some cases, minutes.

An example of this is what we’ve done with a scenario where a gaming software company required lots of service from us. They had two servers, and we spawned 19 instances of Azure to support a peak workload of 13 million users at any period of time. Similarly, the fourth pocket is application aggregation. This is a classic case where there are disparate apps and data coming from disparate apps that need to be aggregated, computed and then spun out to different form factors. We see a lot of such scenarios in enterprises where application integration and, I think, cloud is a fantastic integration platform, specifically, the PaaS side of the cloud.

The last one is around the wide convergence where we see just with the surge of mobile devices. For example, if you were running a campaign where you have a lot of SMSes and pinging back and forth from mobile devices, how do you aggregate that into a platform where you’re getting traffic from across the world and use the cloud as a way of doing so? That’s the way we think about platform-as-a-service. I think it’s a great leveler. It’s very disruptive technology that is going to change the way both software businesses and businesses actually use this to drive competitive advantages for themselves.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Pradeep Rathinam, CEO of Aditi Technologies
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