Amazon Web Services announces 2016 India expansion

Amazon addresses latency, data sovereignty, and growing demand from south east asian market with AWS region in India.

Earlier this month Amazon AWS surprised the market with an announcement that it's planning to launch an AWS region in India in 2016. AWS has been relatively slow to roll out data center regions in the past, so it's promising to see plans to expand to one of the world's most populous regions.

Let's analyze the press release in the customary Constellation style:

India-based AWS Infrastructure Region will enable customers to run workloads in India and serve Indian end-users with even lower latency.

MyPOV - Until now AWS claimed that locality did not matter given the massive number of Edge locations (50+) AWS operates. [Update July 7th: AWS correctly points out that there is a difference between Edge locations and regions, and that it has a world wide rollout schedule for regions. Fair enough, we agree that both are not the same.]

The case of India shows that ultimately Edge locations do not help when there is extended latency to the server. Indian customers have to deal with slow and high latency networks already. Anyone who has downloaded corporate email in Mumbai or Bangalore knows speed is an issue.

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 30, 2015-- Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ:AMZN), today announced that it will open an AWS infrastructure region in India for its cloud computing platform in 2016.

MyPOV - 2015 is a departure from the standing AWS policy of rolling out to regions only when they were going GA, as we saw last in Germany (read the analysis of the German AWS launch here).

"Tens of thousands of customers in India are using AWS from one of AWS's eleven global infrastructure regions outside of India. Several of these customers, along with many prospective new customers, have asked us to locate infrastructure in India so they can enjoy even lower latency to their end users in India and satisfy any data sovereignty requirements they may have," said Andy Jassy, Senior Vice President, AWS. "We're excited to share that Indian customers will be able to use the world's leading cloud computing platform (AWS) in India in 2016 - and we believe India will be one of AWS's largest regions over the long term."

MyPOV - Jassy nails the issue of data center location, speed and sovereignty requirements. Interesting that he mentions India will ultimately be the largest AWS region in the long term. India certainly has a lot of potential, but one could also read this as a strategic move beause (at this point) AWS does not play any data centers between e.g. Germany and Australia on the Eurasian route between the two locations. Not surprisingly, traditionally secretive AWS does not mention the location, but we expect it to be in Northern India to reduce not only latency inside of India, but also adjacent geographies.

Customers in India such as Hike, PayTM, ZEDO, Freshdesk, Inmobi, Capillary Technologies, HackerEarth, Getit, Ferns N Petals, redBus, Druva, Vserv, Hungama, Tata Motors, Jubilant Food Works, STAR India, Future Group, Manipal Global Education, Classle, NDTV, Dalmia Bharat Sugar, Usha International, Macmillan India, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group are already using AWS to drive cost savings, accelerate innovation, speed time-to-market, and expand geographic reach in minutes.

MyPOV - That is impressive load, and possibly a longer customer list (at least what AWS mentioned publicly) then when they opened the German region.

Tata Motors Limited is a leading Indian multinational automotive manufacturing company headquartered in Mumbai, and is part of Tata Group. The company's customer portals and its Telematics systems, which lets fleet owners monitor all the vehicles in their fleet on a real-time basis, are running on the AWS Cloud. Tata Motors has recently built a parts planning system to forecast spares demand by using ordering and inventory patterns. They use AWS for development landscapes immediately after the project kicks off, which shaves four to six weeks of setup time in a typical project cycle. "Whenever we plan on rolling out a new project or experimenting with a new technology, AWS helps us in quickly provisioning the required infrastructure and enables us in getting up and running at a fast pace," said Jagdish Belwal, Chief Information Officer of Tata Motors. "AWS has helped us become more agile and has drastically increased our speed of experimentation and therefore, innovation."

MyPOV - It's promising that a marquee Indian brand like Tata Motors is taking advantage of AWS for innovation. What is not mentioned is that Tata (like all other Indian customers) will be more productive in their new development and test systems thanks to lower latency. From my own experience (in a past profession) of switching data centers into India, this can be a substantial and often dramatic performance improvement.

NDTV is India's leading media house with TV channels watched by millions of people across the world. NDTV has been using AWS since 2009 to run their video platform and all their web properties on AWS. During the May 2014 general election, NDTV using AWS was able to handle the unprecedented web traffic that scaled 26 times from 500 million hits on a normal day to 13 billion hits during election day, and regularly peaked at 400,000 hits per second. "We have been an early adopter of AWS and the benefits that we experience is beyond just cost savings, it is the agility that enables us to move fast with new projects that makes a positive impact and real difference to our business," said Kawaljit Singh, CTO of NDTV Convergence. "We are very impressed with the staff and tech support teams of AWS, who have been most helpful in providing support and guidance throughout our cloud journey. They worked hand-in-hand with our team so that we are able to handle the massive scale and unpredictability of workloads for the general election event last year, and as a result, the entire process took place without any hitch at all."

MyPOV - Another great showcase for benefits of a local Indian region - streaming and media house NDTV. Again a bandwidth hungry and performance critical use case.

Ferns N Petals is a leading flower and retailer in India with 194 outlets in 74 cities and delivery across 156 countries worldwide. Prior to using AWS, Ferns N Petals was running its IT infrastructure in a traditional datacenter. They turned to AWS in the year 2014 when their business grew rapidly and decided to move their entire online business to AWS. Since moving to AWS, they are able to manage rapid growth of their users' traffic that peaks at 80 percent during the festive seasons. "Our experience with AWS over the past year has been excellent. AWS is now the cornerstone in our growth strategy, " said Manish Saini, Vice President of online business for Ferns N Petals. "We have recently launched two new businesses that includes new overseas expansion that are all running on AWS. We are now able to spend more time and resources in areas that matter to our customers such as new mobile app development that will enhance their buying experience."

MyPOV - Another well-picked case study by AWS. Bringing a region to India will not only serve local customers, but also - as in this case - sway them more to the AWS platform as it allows a standardization of platforms for global expansion.

Novi Digital is a wholly owned subsidiary of STAR India, one of the largest media and entertainment companies in India. The company uses AWS to run hotstar, a flagship OTT platform for drama, movies and live sporting events. With more than 20 million downloads in four months, hotstar has seen one of the fastest adoptions of any new digital service anywhere in the world. In fact, during one of the Cricket World Cup matches, hotstar and starsports.com combined reached a record total of over 2.3 million concurrent streams and more than 50 million video views. "The reliability of the highly scalable AWS cloud platform has enabled hotstar to break many records in the last four months," said Ajit Mohan, Head of Digital, STAR India. "AWS has been a key partner in helping us deliver a compelling and seamless experience for millions of users." AWS also has a vibrant ecosystem in India, including partners that have built cloud practices and innovative technology solutions on the platform. The AWS Consulting Partners in Indiainclude Accenture, Blazeclan, Frontier, Intelligrape, Minjar, Progressive, PWC, SaaSforce, SD2labs, Team Computers, Wipro, and many others. Among the AWS Technology Partners inIndia are Adobe, Druva, Freshdesk, Indusface, Microsoft, Newgen, RAMCO, SAP, Seclore and many others. For the full list of the members of the AWS Partner Network, please visit:https://aws.amazon.com/partners/

My Overall POV

The planned launch of a south east Asia region is a good move by Amazon. India is a key location for expansion because its concentration of high-tech vendors and because its consumer base is growing rapidly as more Indians gain access to the internet.

Additionally, with the establishment of this new region, the latency issue can be addressed. This will play into the geographic strategy that encapsulates data residency and sovereignty issues. Among the other major cloud IaaS vendors, only IBM has a datacenter in India. It will be interesting if and how Google and Microsoft will respond. Both have significant load in India. Oracle and SAP have large ecosystems and development teams in the country, so don't be surprised if they soon stake a flag in the ground there, too.

This move highlights questions about if Amazon should have invested in India earlier and where it should be investing now. Given AWS moved to announce the region before the actual launch (AWS announced Germany only when the region was up and running), we can probably assume no other regions will launch before India. But you never know. Of note is a lack of a Latin American, Mexican, South African and Chinese presence. Russia's recent data privacy and residency requests make it a more popular location, too.

Finally, curious that this seemingly-significant announcement was made on the same day as the AWS Summit in Berlin. I don't think CTO Werner Vogels spent more than 10 seconds on the announcement. The German audience seemed to care less or at all. Why both overlapped, not clear to me, but 6/30 - last day of the quarter may be a hint for someone financially more astute than me.

Overall a good move by Amazon, hitting all the right notes on its reasons to place instances in India from latency, data residency and sovereignty, and a growing, tech-savvy market.

Resources

9 Cloud Trends Every CXO Needs to Know in 2015