Writing a new script in the Clouds
ESDS is one of the leading Managed Data Center Service and Auto-Scalable Cloud Solution provider, and also India’s No.1 Cloud Hosting Company. The Company has presence in several industry verticals like Banking & Finance, Healthcare, Education, Energy & Utilities, Agriculture, Manufacturing, IT, Entertainment & Media, Travel & Tourism, Telecom, Government and eCommerce.
ESDS was founded in 2005 by first generation entrepreneur, Piyush Somani, who at a very young age of 22 completed his engineering in 2002 and joined a Mumbai based company as a Purchase Head. Determined to have his own identity, however, he soon moved back to his home town Nasik, where with his father’s encouragement and support he started ‘Web hosting support’ business in 2004 with seven partners. As it happens, the initial phase was challenging. The team was enthusiastic, aggressive and stayed updated with latest trends in technology and the market requirements. In January 2005, ESDS Software Solution Pvt. Ltd. came into being with a vision to deliver exuberant support and Datacenter Services to customers globally. The major difference in US, UK, India time zones gave a tough time to the small team.
Piyush Somani led a very aggressive sales and marketing team which brought him success in bagging brilliant opportunities in the international market. Soon he established a full-fledged Web Hosting Business instead of supporting other web hosting companies. In the process of transformation, ESDS got the opportunity to take over some UK and US based web hosting companies. In no time, these companies became very popular across the globe due to best in class customer service. It was then that Piyush decided to setup a Datacenter of ESDS in India. The Company successfully launched its first Data Center in Feb 2010 and the next, which is one of the biggest Data centers in India in April 2016 at Navi Mumbai.
Piyush formed the R&D team in 2007 and initiated three projects to develop products for Datacenter Management System, auto-scaling Virtualization platform (Cloud Hosting platform) and Web Hosting Billing software. The team launched the Cloud Hosting platform, Billing software and the Datacenter Management system in the year 2011. Today ESDS has branch offices in UK, US, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi as well as Pune. In a free-wheeling conversation Piyush Somani shares his views with Indian Economy & Market about the current scenario, the rising importance of AI and his future plans.
Face to face
ESDS has developed an advanced solution which can detect the presence of coronavirus just by a chest x-ray. Can you elaborate the progress made in this direction?
The world has witnessed one of the worst pandemics of the century. COVID-19 has brought the entire world to a standstill, and Social Distancing and Work from Home are the new buzzword. The government has taken various measures; the focus is on the Atmanirbhar approach to minimize the dependency on others and emerge as a self-reliant nation. Understanding this need of the hour, ESDS developed AA+ COVID-19 Testing Solution, which can indicate the presence of COVID-19 within a suspect patient in less than 5 minutes. The AA+ COVID-19 Testing Solution is an indicative tool. The ESDS Team has developed this Solution in a short period under the guidance of AI-specialists and radiologists. It is an entirely contactless Solution, reducing the risk for Corona warriors to come in contact with the patient. This is altogether an indigenous and Made-in-India product. This is now being used at various hospitals in Nashik and we are very optimistic that this will be used Pan-India due to its rapid implementation and scalability through WebAPI and web browsers. More than 50,000 chest X-ray samples have been collected to date and as a result, the Testing Solution has gained a model accuracy of over 96%. With more samples coming in, we are confident that the accuracy will enhance further. This Testing Solution is now being leveraged by the business enterprises also. To address the needs of corporates and businesses, who are looking to re-start their industries again with utmost safety care of their employees, ESDS has also introduced a mobile van Testing Solution at a very reasonable cost-effective rate. This mobile van can be called at the office doorstep for mass and rapid testing of employees. Based on the result obtained, businesses can take further course of action in case an employee is indicated positive for COVID-19.
The Company is considered to be the pioneer in community cloud. Can you elaborate what it really is and its future?
ESDS has been the leading Indian Cloud Service company that has been serving the Digital India Mission through its Community Cloud for addressing the needs of customers from different industry verticals. Our portfolio includes government, banking, SAP HANA and Enterprise Community Cloud. We are the first cloud hosting Company to have achieved the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology empanelment for delivering Cloud services to Government customers in India.
Government Community Cloud hosts mission-critical applications with higher scalability and flexibility for improved performance and cost savings. Also, the proactive and expert team of ESDS is available 24x7x365, serving over 100 government and PSU organizations with its patented “Make in India” eNlight cloud technology ensuring 99.95% uptime guarantee.
Our Banking Community Cloud caters to the smallest needs in the banking environment. Deliver end-to-end digital banking experiences while leveraging advanced technology solutions with ESDS BFSI community cloud. ESDS BFSI community cloud delivers security management services to the banks, ensuring secure transactions and banking operations. Banking Community Cloud includes everything from IT infrastructure to cloud hosting and from digital banking services to artificial intelligence-based processes for BFSI. ESDS is currently serving 320+ Banks on BFSI Community Cloud with its advanced technology solutions.
ESDS is serving 150+ SAP customers on SAP HANA Community Cloud. ESDS SAP-certified Community cloud ensures better flexibility and redundancy to run the SAP Landscape. Our eNlight Enterprise community cloud ensures efficient utilization of IT resources and flexible data security policies. It delivers a safer computing environment with lower IT and infrastructure costs. In the future, ESDS looks to host all major upcoming projects on its respective community clouds for driving the digital transformation journey of these sectors.
AI is going to be the most important vehicleof growth in many segments. How ESDS plans to play a major role in this?
The fresh example of using AI for transforming human lives is the AA+ COVID-19 Testing Solution that was developed for the rapid detection of COVID-19 in a suspected patient just from the chest X-ray. This particular solution, AI, along with Machine Learning, is being developed for identifying other diseases as well. ESDS has also developed an intelligent bot- eNlightBot. Here AI is combined with Natural Language Processing, which is backed by Neural Networks.
There is collective view that post-Covid-19 disruptions in the entire segment will be observed. Your take?
The pandemic has forced a large portion of employees to work from home and it is going to be the new normal for the next few years. This has accelerated the pace of digital transformation across all sectors. Digitalization, something everyone has been looking at has now found adoption earlier than planned. While working from home, the most significant challenge comes with ensuring data and cybersecurity. ESDS being a cloud service provider requires deploying a secured cloud infrastructure for various projects that are running on our cloud solutions. Cloud security solutions safeguard data, networks and access by securing connections between cloud-based SaaS offerings and users. Anyone today who is accessing the Internet is vulnerable to cyber attacks. We assure that one gets maximum protection backed by security features that serve as an additional layer for ensuring data protection. During the COVID-19 time, our eNlight Cloud services, our patented technology, witnessed an increased demand along with our enterprise eNlight Cloud offerings.
Make in India was supposed to be instrumental in boosting manufacturing and IT sectors. Now with a head-on with China and the prevailing hatred against the country will certainly provide a huge opportunity in many fields. Your take?
As a completely indigenous company, ESDS continues the digital transformation journey of different industries through its innovative and advanced technology offerings. Make in India, along with the Atmanirbhar Mission, is going to boost various industry sectors. The availability of a young population is only one of the several factors required to emerge as a global manufacturing hub. A clear strategy for specific sectors/corridors, focused investments in competitiveness enablers, smart market promotion, and disciplined execution are now needed to capitalize on this opportunity fully. India has a unique opportunity to encash on this new wave of global rebalancing. Across a range of advanced industries and labor-intensive industries, India is the only destination that can offer a China-scale labor force and a China-scale domestic market.
Do you feel the number of USPs of ESDS will have to be increased?
Being a cloud and data center provider, our current USP is our eNlight Cloud that can auto horizontal and vertically scale itself as per the needs of the business, without hindering the business operations. In the data center industry, we have Rated-3 data centers situated in Nashik, Mumbai and Bengaluru that are committed to providing an assured uptime of 99.99%. Even in the cloud industry, we are amongst the top-3 providers and for the Government sector, we are ranked no. 1 CSP in India. In the data center industry, ESDS has been ranked 2nd in India. Owing to the growing demand for data security, all our products and services are fully compliant to all the latest industry-defined standards. Also, we are proud to say that more than 10 smart city projects are hosted on our community cloud platform. Our R&D Team is committed to offering unique solutions such as WAF, WebVPN, even in the most challenging times, to address the needs of secured Internet access while remotely working from home. Lastly, ESDS has been recognized as the 15th Great Place to Work in the Asia region (2020) and recently we received the 28th Rank as the Great Place to Work for the year 2020.
What is the secret behind your sustainability?
With every financial year, ESDS has pushed itself to achieve a new target through our advanced technology solutions. We have managed to touch lives of 500 million Indians through more than 135 government organizations hosting their data on our cloud and more than 325 banks hosting their CBS solution as well as the channels with us. To achieve such sustainability it is required to follow the 80-20 Rule which states that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the efforts. In sales, this means that 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the customers. It also means that, within the 20 percent of efforts, another 80-20 Rule applies. That translates to a minimal amount of effort leading to a huge amount of results. This isn’t about working long and unending days, toiling away or being the last one to always leave the office. This is about productivity.
What is the road ahead?
We are looking to expand our data center network in 16 countries. The size of opportunities that is gained from some countries is big. We are in the process of setting up data centers in five new cities and our existing three DC locations will see Phase-2 of expansion. We will have operational data centers in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Nashik, and Indore by the end of FY21. Then three more DCs will be added at three other cities – Hyderabad, Kolkata, and New Delhi. We are already No.1 in India for Government Community Cloud and the Banking Community Cloud. With companies encouraging work from home as the new normal, the Cloud industry is going to play a key role.
What drives you and what is your philosophy of life?
I am a firm believer that 99% of people fail when they are 99% close to the target. I believe success might be just a step away when you decide to quit. So keep moving forward with strength and persistence.
What is your routine like?
I’ an early bird and wake up by 4 AM. My routine begins with the meditation session; Sun Bath by standing in front of the sun for 45 minutes, posing like a tree, which is a yoga pose named Vrikshasana. I am ready for my day by 8:30 AM. I have fruits and cold-pressed vegetable juice in the breakfast. In the evening, I again dedicate one hour for meditation.
Your defining moments?
Back in 2006, ESDS was facing a lot of problems but I had a strong belief that transformation is not far. From Diwali 2006 to the end of 2009, we witnessed a growth of 100 times. So from the verge of closing to gaining a 100 times growth was a defining moment for all of us.
Which of your personality traits, you feel, has not been widely known?
I have been highly inspired by the movie In Pursuit of Happiness. Similar to the movie’s storyline, I have also invested in a lot of effort. Most of the people today see me as a successful entrepreneur, but very few people know the journey behind that.
Any regrets that you wish to share?
Fortunately no. In the past, I have been a business analyst. I know what’s happening from the front-end side, but also wish to learn what is happening at the back-end. I don’t get enough time as I want to enhance my programming skills by learning the latest languages, such as- Perl, Python, to name a few.