Techno-Pulse hosts Sahil Parikh for an exclusive Interview on Cloud Computing Services.
Sahil is a web entrepreneur living in Mumbai, India. He's the founder & CEO of Synage, a small software as a service company. He has been involved with the web since the last 9 years. He is passionate about the fusion of design & technology and that of building scalable web businesses. When not in front of the computer, Sahil spends his time reading, playing golf, tennis and traveling to distant places.
- Their flagship SaaS - DeskAway - a Cloud based Project Collaboration & Management software is ranked in the top 30 hottest startups in India by TataNEN.
- Showcased on CNBC's prestigious TV show Young Turk Innovators
Q & A…
2009 onwards Cloud Computing is a buzz. Even IT giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are throwing their weight behind this new trend. In a recent interview MS CEO Steve Ballmer told that 70% of Microsoft employees are working on some sort of Cloud related innovation. What made you think out-of- the- box in 2007?
It was not about thinking out of the box. The SaaS / Cloud model makes perfect sense in an era when the Internet is getting ubiquitous and everything is moving to a subscription model. I realized that the ownership of IT was not important as much as its consumption by businesses. We phased out our services business and plunged into SaaS early knowing that the future of software is online. It just seemed logical.
India aims to become the fastest growing economy in 2010. How can a growing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) benefit with this new technology trend?
That is exactly the area my book will be addressing. Small businesses will now have the ability to use the same tools and techniques that larger companies enjoyed for years. They can leverage Web 2.0/ Social Media tools to connect with prospects / customers, build their brand, and use Enterprise 2.0 tools to automate systems within their workplace using free, inexpensive and simple tools.
DeskAway is a SaaS (Software as a Service). How do you compare your SaaS offering, in terms of Security, SLA & Scalability, with more established global SaaS providers viz. Salesforce.com?
I am not aware of Salesforce's architecture so I cannot comment.
Can Deskaway cater to the project management needs of small & mid size companies of non IT sector say manufacturing?
Absolutely. In fact, besides technology companies, DeskAway users are from manufacturing, healthcare, non-profits, accounting etc. We are seeing more and more teams move away from email as a primary form of collaboration (sharing files, delegating tasks, planning work etc.) and use a web-based application.
There are many similar services/products viz. Basecamp, Zoho Projects & MS Project etc. What is the USP of Deskaway?
We try to keep things simple, build powerful features, have an affordable pricing strategy and an amazing customer service standard. At the end of the day, it translates into a very positive experience that a user has with our application and company.
Security of data on the cloud is one of the most highlighted concerns for a customer who is more concerned about confidentiality of data. How are you addressing this issue?
Correct. This is a valid concern. This is the reason we decided to host with the best hosting provider in the world - Rackspace. You can find more information about our security practices here – DeskAway Security
Another SaaS related concern from customer’s point of view is sudden & unreasonable price hike once the customer’s business is growing & is dependent on the provider. As Deskaway is also a subscription based SaaS, what guarantee do you offer to your customer against this so called sudden inflation?
Well, this is easier done when you are selling on-premise software. With SaaS, you are constantly (month to month subscription) monitored by your users and it becomes harder to change the price point without pissing some people off. Though, I have seen SaaS companies increasing pricing once but not more than that. We do not offer any guarantee against a price increase. There is nothing wrong in increasing the price point if it is going to provide more value to your users.
You are a Cloud customer (of Rackspace) as well as a Cloud provider. I’ve noticed many Cloud Providers (SaaS + IaaS) are emphasizing on 100% Uptime (or 0% Downtime). Is it practically possible to offer a service with 100% Uptime guarantee? What’s your experience?
As with everything else, sh%$ can happen online. Downtime happens with everyone including Salesforce and Google. I think it is better to offer a lower guarantee and over deliver than the other way around.
Currently the top Indian IT companies are from services sector. A few experts believe that if the big IT players don’t get their Cloud Computing strategies right, they may be in for a rude shock as the SaaS & PaaS providers may dent heavily into their revenue. What are your views?
I don't see these companies switch to SaaS so soon. Services forms a large part of their revenue. Though, I can see them become integrators / service providers for other SaaS providers.
5 years down the line, do you foresee any Cloud Provider dominating the Indian IT space?
I feel each application category will have a few dominating players. For email, I think Google Apps is taking the cake.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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