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Amazon's bet on AI brings it big business and serious competition in India

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In a battle to dominate cloud computing services, Amazon Internet Services, which provides Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) technology in India, is taking on rivals Google and Microsoft by wooing customers with its artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. These customers range from top start-ups like bike-sharing firm Yulu, hotel network OYO and tea retailer chain Point, to large conglomerates such as Aditya Birla and Tata Motors. Amazon is helping them drive cost savings, accelerate innovation, speed up time-to-market and expand their geographic reach. 

“We have hundreds of thousands of customers now in India using AWS to scale up. Whether you are a start-up or a large enterprise, we have programmes to support you,” says Madhusudan Shekar, head of digital innovation, Amazon Internet Services. “We are seeing growth across all industries, from large enterprises like Tata Motors and Aditya Birla Group to startups including food tech firm Swiggy.” 

Indian customers are using Amazon’s technologies for applications such as demand forecasting, image recognition, natural language processing, fraud detection and AI chatbots. 

One such customer is micro-mobility platform Yulu that is solving traffic congestion and air pollution issues in the country by providing bikes and micro-light electric vehicles. The start-up currently has cycles, and is tying up with corporate parks and societies in Bengaluru to provide Yulu Zones for last-mile connectivity. The firm's entire mobile platform runs on AWS, which it chose to launch its business, for the speed-to-market and lower upfront costs that AWS offered. 

Yulu has improved service efficiency by 30-35 per cent using the prediction model and AWS data lake, a centralised repository that allows one to store all the structured and unstructured data at any scale. “We chose AWS, as we wanted the data to reside inside the country and be closer to us. Also, there are a lot of services that Amazon provides,” says Naveen Dachuri, co-founder and chief technology officer of Yulu. “Most of our time is now involved in doing the things that we want for our business.” 

The company said AWS Asia Pacific (Mumbai) Region is designed and built to meet rigorous compliance standards, providing high levels of security for all AWS customers. As with every AWS Region, the Asia Pacific (Mumbai) Region is compliant with applicable national and local data protection laws. Customers have the assurance that the content stored in the Asia Pacific (Mumbai) region will not move to another region unless legally required to do so or the customer moves it. 

The small town market 

AWS is also finding traction for its technology from customers in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. MyTeam11, a Jaipur-based sports fantasy platform that was started by two BTech graduates, has over 15 million users now. It was the title sponsor of the India-West Indies series in August this year. When the team anticipated an increase in traffic during the India-West Indies series, it chose AWS. The result was increased scalability, availability as well as improved end-user experience for MyTeam11’s customers.  

Rajkot (Gujarat)-based software company Veni Infotech is using AWS to develop core features of MineApp, a social networking app created by the firm. It used Amazon Rekognition, a deep learning image analysis service, to analyze the images, videos, and restrict users from uploading any illicit content. 

AWS is also wooing a lot of large enterprises in the country. In mid-April last year when a major fire broke out in national spot exchange NCDEX e-Market Limited’s (NeML) Data Centre in Mumbai, operations in Agri commodities had to be suspended temporarily. The organisation was able to migrate to a cloud computing alternative like the one offered by AWS with full capacity. Another large customer Tata Global Beverages which focuses on products such as tea, coffee and water, claims to have reduced it's time-to-market leveraging AWS Cloud. It realised a 15 per cent reduction in its infrastructure hosting and managed services cost.

According to Manoj Chandra Jha, lead analyst at technology research and advisory firm ISG, what differentiates AWS is that it offers the largest breadth of services. “Also, it has a strong focus on emerging technologies like AI and ML, and has continued investment in developing a strong network of thousands of partners and an ever-expanding global presence including 69 Availability Zones (isolated locations within data centre regions) across 22 regions in 30 countries,” said Jha.

The growing adoption of big data, analytics, AI and Internet of Things is expected to push cloud spending in India to grow 30 per cent per annum to reach $7.2 billion by 2022, according to a report by IT trade body Nasscom. By the same time frame, global cloud spending is projected to grow at 16.5 per cent per annum to reach $345 billion as compared to around $187 billion in 2018. 

Jha of ISG says that AWS has been an “undisputed leader” for a long time but providers like Microsoft and Google are challenging the norms, which is a great sign for the industry and AWS as well, to raise its bar. “We don’t expect an immediate change in the pecking order yet. However, individual provider strategies are increasingly interesting as they continue to evolve.” 

Why AWS?
  • Cloud spending in India to grow 30% p.a. to touch $7.2 bn by 2022
  • Chai Point using AWS to support sale of 150,000 cups of tea daily 
  • OYO expects Amazon’s tech to cut infra management time by 50%
  • Amazon Rekognition, a deep learning image analysis service, is helping social platforms restrict users from uploading illicit content



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