Below is an excerpt from a recent interview with Sharat Prasad, Cross-Industry Strategic Initiatives, Portfolio Technical Director, as he discusses how the cloud can help during crisis times and how he sees cloud collaboration as an important part of the post-COVID world.
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Q: Sharat, in your own words, tell me what’s going on in the world right now?
Sharat Prasad: Well, what’s going on in the world right now is, I think truly unprecedented. Suddenly we have this pandemic raising through the world and who would have thought that our lives would be affected in so many different ways. We have even, we even now have to think about going out of the house. I mean, even we have to think about even doing small things, like going to a grocery store and getting our stuff. So small things that we didn’t even think about before suddenly has, has changed so much. In terms of our work lives, many of us are actually now working from home, our homes. In fact, we are using a lot more technology now because we have to use or access our office, you know, we have a couple of our colleagues. We have to access, our hardware, our hardware at the offices, all that remotely. So lot of those things have changed, not in our personal lives, but as well as in our professional lives as well. And I think, and that is, I think that is truly remarkable. I mean, I never thought that that kind of scenario, I would at least see my lifetime, you know?
Q: Yeah. So you just described how we’re changing the way we act. Do you think that this pandemic is also reshaping how we think about our lives, how we think about our personal lives and how we think about our professions going forward?
Sharat Prasad: Absolutely. I mean, I think not only it’s affecting our personal lives, it’s affecting our professional lives as well. One thing for sure that I think people will appreciate more is the importance of technology for that matter. Now, I mean, you can basically sit at home and do a lot of things just from home because you have access to these technologies that allow you to be effective remotely. So the appreciation of technology is one thing that definitely is going to come or become front and center as part of the effect of this pandemic, I think.
Q: Great. So let’s talk about technology a little bit. Can you explain for me in your own words, what is the cloud?
Sharat Prasad: Well, cloud and cloud computing, both of these terms are used quite interchangeably, but, simply speaking cloud is, it is basically a set of technology that allows you to access computer hardware and computer software remotely, over a public internet essentially. So, what you will have is that you will have a bunch of computer hardware sitting in a remote data center and your software applications will be hosted on that particular data center, in a data center, and all you will need is a basic laptop essentially, or a mobile device, you know, for that matter or your phone, or your iPad for that matter. And essentially you will log on to a cloud server and do what you do like just like having a full fledged computer on your desk, you know. So that’s what cloud allows you to do and that’s what really cloud is.
Q: That’s perfect. So we were just talking about all the ways that this pandemic is going to cause us to rethink our lives, our personal lives and our professional lives. Do you think that there are recent advances in cloud technology or cloud technology itself will be a major part of this post-COVID reality?
Sharat Prasad: Absolutely. So, I mean, if you, if you look at last three or four years, the acceptance of cloud technology has been gaining wide acceptance anyways. So, if you look at some traditional applications, for example, just taking your email for that matter, you know? So in old days, companies would invest significant amount of money in buying hardware so that they can host their email servers in house. And then they would invest significant amount of time and money to keep maintaining that hardware, as well as, essentially maintaining the software architecture that’s required to keep that going. But now with cloud coming to the forefront you can just use this email applications over the cloud where a vendor will be managing this for all of the companies that subscribe to it and a user’s perspective, there is no change. All they need to do is they just need to log on and check their emails as simple as that.
So these changes have been going on for last three or four years. Another aspect is essentially that we talk about quite a lot is high performance computing for that matter. So, you need like significant computer hardware to run high performance computing jobs or workload sets, as we call them. But, with cloud what you can do is you can send these workloads to the cloud and essentially use cloud compute infrastructure to run these workloads, right? Now, both of these trends, I mean using more and more cloud has been happening for the last three, four years. People are moving to cloud. But with pandemic happening right now essentially my feeling is that these trends are going to accelerate even further simply because now people will realize the importance of cloud technology and how it enables them to be effective remotely.
Q: Terrific. So now let’s talk about two specific things that you want to talk about in relation to the cloud, in relation to this new reality we’re talking about, and the first one is collaboration. So please talk about collaboration and how cloud technology enhances it.
Sharat Prasad: Right. So, collaboration, I think, is the key benefit of being on the cloud. Now, in terms of, let’s look at the area of engineering for that matter. Today we are building really sophisticated products. We are designing really sophisticated products. We are building really sophisticated products. So when you build these complex products, you essentially need a lot of collaboration. Not between the employees that you have within a company, uh, but you also need a lot of collaboration between, let’s say, the company and the suppliers that it uses for that matter. The suppliers who provide important ingredients to- towards building the product, you know? So not only you need intercompany collaboration, you need collaboration between companies and their suppliers as well.
So, and that collaboration, I think, is the key. The, the bigger and the more bolder, and the more complex a product you build, you have to be able to get it right first, first time around, because there are significant costs associated with going wrong, really, you know? So unless you, unless you have unprecedented collaboration between all the stakeholders, you will not be able to build a complex product, you know? And you will not be able to build a product that satisfied customers needs, you know? So really what, what cloud does is that it enables that kind of collaboration.
A cloud platform essentially all- will allow you to bring all the stakeholders, not within a company, but also within the entire ecosystem that company engages with, and be able to get them on the same page, literally, you know, so that they are always working on, you know, the product specifications or product design or product validations or product verifications and so on and so forth. In fact, the whole value chain related to the product development process, starting from, you know, market research, all the way to sales and marketing, that entire value chain can benefit significantly from the collaboration aspects of cloud.
Q: And you think that this will help ease the blow of this post-COVID world that we’re talking about?
Sharat Prasad: Absolutely. I mean, in a post-COVID world, we realize that we have limitations and restrictions in terms of how many people can, uh, get inside a building, for that matter. We have limitations on travel. How frequently can you go and see your clients or customers? Or for that matter, how often different employees within the company can travel to different sites to, let’s say, collaborate on a project. So we have all those limitations. With the pandemic, what’s happening is that, I mean, we can’t do much about it. We have to honor those limitations because, otherwise, I mean, we will never be able to control the pandemic, you know? So, what cloud does is that it provides you the tools for collaboration. It allows real time collaboration really. So it offsets some of the restrictions that the pandemic poses on us, you know? And it helps companies limit the impact of the pandemic.
Watch the full interview:
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