HCL CTO On ‘Significant’ Google Cloud ‘Bets’ And Its Future

Kalyan Kumar, HCL’s global chief technology officer, explains to CRN why his $11.5 billion solution provider is investing in Google Cloud and where the biggest opportunities are ahead.

Kalyan Kumar, HCL Technologies’ worldwide chief technology officer

Kalyan Kumar, HCL Technologies’ worldwide chief technology officer

HCL Technologies is betting big on Google Cloud as demand for cloud services skyrockets, with plans to train up to 18,000 IT professionals on Google Cloud to drive sales momentum even further.

Kalyan Kumar, HCL Technologies’ worldwide chief technology officer, explained to CRN why the $11.5 billion global solution provider is investing millions in Google Cloud and integrating its software products with Google to deliver new software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.

“On our software and service side, we’re building a lot of solutions and offerings on top of Google Cloud,” said Kumar, CTO and head of ecosystems and HCL software products and platforms for HCL Technologies, also known as HCLTech.

Kumar explains that the opportunities ahead with Google Cloud and parent company Alphabet are huge.

“In the next ten years, it’s about these immersive technologies like the Metaverse, immersive computing, augmented computing, cognitive computing— that’s where the real shift is going to happen,” said Kumar. “A lot of our play with Google is around data, AI, and around insights, because that’s where you can unlock the value of the cloud.”

[Related: Google Cloud Next: 10 BiqQuery, Workspace, VMs, AL Launches]

HCL And Google Cloud Revamp Strategy

The India-based global IT services superstar is creating two new offerings to accelerate enterprise migration to Google Cloud.

First, HCL is creating a new Google Cloud Global Migration and Modernization Factory which will combine experts, IP, migration frameworks and automation to help businesses bring workloads into Google Cloud faster.

Additionally, a new dedicated HCLTech Cloud Acceleration Team will strive to speed up customers’ time-to-value with Google Cloud products and solutions by providing architectural expertise and insights from data.

HCL plans to train upwards of 18,000 technology and consulting professionals on Google Cloud to drive more customer momentum and sales.

“That 18,000 gives you a perspective associated with our ongoing relationship with HCL,” Kevin Ichhpurani, Google Cloud’s worldwide channel chief told CRN. “When we think of the digital transformation journey our clients are on: they require vision, they require technology, and they require expertise. That is what we’re delivering with HCL through a dedicated factory that will focus on migration, but also modernization.”

Ichhpurani said Google Cloud and HCL are working together to “fundamentally change the business model” for its thousands of joint customers.

Kumar leads HCL’s technology strategy, partner ecosystems and next-generation technology blueprinting. He’s been with the company for over 20 years and also oversees HCLTech’s Cloud offerings and cloud ecosystems business units.

In an interview with CRN, Kumar takes a deep dive on HCL’s revamped Google Cloud partnership as well as the biggest market opportunities ahead.

How big is HCL’s investment and future with Google Cloud? What’s the plan right now?

We really built and created a very unique operating model of creating a dedicated Google ecosystem unit, which was 100 percent focused on Google within HCL. It’s like a full stack team that only did Google, it didn’t do anything else. That really brought focus and led us to build pretty significant joint momentum within both the companies.

We are now taking the next step in this journey.

We’ve created a business unit. Now we’re going to create a factory-type, scale delivery model, which is dedicated around Google and the ecosystem around Google.

We’re also going to build a team of close to 3,000 people who will be focused around the Google technology stack across Google infrastructure platform, and around a lot of the data, AI and all the other services. Also, both migrate and modernize new development and operations of running everything on cloud.

Another thing is we’re going to pick certain industries which we’ve identified: financial services, retail, CPG [consumer packaged goods], life sciences and health. We’re going to take a data- and AI-first approach to Google Cloud here.

It’s about the 3.0 cloud journey, which is about the infrastructure when you are looking at cloud to deploy applications or migrate applications. But really, how do you unlock the value of data, insights, analytics and leverage cloud to be able to deliver that. … There’s going to be a serious focus on execution around this.

Talk about HCL training 18,000 employees on Google Cloud?

We’re putting in a bet for these 18,000 people because we really believe that there is clear customer demand, and we’re obviously planning for expanded capability around that.

So I think 18,000 might look like a big number, but with the high demand patterns coming from the market, you start to realize that number is decent size—but I think the opportunity that exists is significantly high.

This is all about building competency capability at scale.

We have to create a structure which we can drive a model to fulfill the demand that is coming in the market.

Google Cloud is growing at about 35 percent to 40 percent CAGR [compound annual growth rate].

For us, it’s been a smaller base, but it’s rapidly multiplying.

It said that only 5 percent or 7 percent of total enterprise IT is on the cloud, right? All this cloud which is being talked about is only 5- to 7 percent. So the headroom to grow is significant.

Where are the biggest opportunities for HCL and Google?

Our very large engineering services business helps customers build products and make them work in a hyper connected ecosystem. More and more, the intelligence is moving from inside the box to out of the box in the connected intelligence manner.

There’s huge potential in what we could do with product lifecycle management; or what we could do with operational technology (OT) systems; or what we can do with embedding software in a car; or building software inside appliances.

That’s where it’s not just Google Cloud, but the Alphabet ecosystem.

We’re working pretty closely with Android and Android technologies. In the backend, we start to create scalable cloud services on Google Cloud. Because these connected devices need to go and connect into some other pretty large ecosystems.

Enterprises only have ‘X’ amount of capacity. So IT can do only ‘X’ because the collective IT spend is ‘X’.

But there’s business technology and then there is OT. The real world of cloud impact is IT will reach a point in time where everything in IT will get standardized and cloud will become the de facto choice.

You can only do so much in IT, but there is still a significant headroom for all the cloud play and business technology.

In this connected system world, there’s the operations technology—the plants, the connected ecosystem, OT assets—which we think the future is all about.

In the next ten years, it’s about these immersive technologies like the Metaverse, immersive computing, augmented computing, cognitive computing— that’s where the real shift is going to happen.

A lot of our play with Google is around data, AI, and around insights, because that’s where you can unlock the value of the cloud.

Lifting and shifting applications to the cloud, you can only extract ‘X’ value.

But it’s about how do you get continuous value? That’s all going to happen when you really are able to leverage the power of data.

Is Google Cloud a good partner to be with? How does their partnering model stack up?

Google took a very different approach to building a partnering model.

It’s been stated by both [CEO] Thomas Kurian and Kevin [Ichhpurani] very clearly that it’s a partner-first, partner-lean approach. And we’ve seen that pretty much for 99 percent of the time.

That model has been very, very good. Based on our experience working across various other partners, this is a very clear commitment in terms of how they approach the partnering model.

With partners at our size and scale, everyone partners with everyone in the market. But when you bring focus, like what we’ve done with the Google ecosystem unit and how Google has equally had the same amount of dedicated people who only focus on HCL across the globe—Google has a partner friendly approach. But then when you bring them extreme focus, that really changes and elevates the partnership to the next level.

If you take our HCL software division, and some of the products like Commerce, DRYiCE and Unica—we’ve deployed some of those technologies, cloud enabled them and [they are] being built as a Google Cloud native SaaS offering.

This is basically our software product business using Google Cloud and using the technology to deliver a SaaS product or making them available on the Marketplace—those are significant bets which we are making at an overall HCL level.

On our software and service side, we’re building a lot of solutions and offerings on top of Google Cloud.

It really shows that the partnering has been working when the trust has been established between both organizations and it’s getting executed well in the field.