netapp: India will become top market in Asia in 3-5 years: Netapp CEO


Netapp expects the Indian market to accelerate and become the data storage firm’s largest market in Asia in the next three to five years from the top three position currently. This will be on the back of the country’s demographic and economic advantages, and Netapp’s headroom to grow in this market, George Kurian, chief executive and member of the board of Netapp, told ET.

Kerala-born Kurian, who became chief of the $6.36 billion company in 2015, is currently on a visit to India.

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“We see Asia growing faster than the rest of the world. We aspire Asia to contribute 20% of our global business. We want India to be the largest market in Asia,” said the 57-year-old Kurian.

The Nasdaq-listed firm doesn’t have a direct presence in China but has been operating through a joint venture with Chinese technology manufacturer Lenovo since 2018. This gives us the opportunity to invest more heavily in rest of the Asian markets (like India),” Kurain told ET during his visit to Mumbai on Tuesday.

Netapp counts India’s biggest public and private sector banks as well as the three telecom companies among its clients in India.

“We have doubled our (India) business over the last two years and have gained the number one market position in India in terms of all-flash array last quarter–the fastest growing market. But we are still scraping the tip of the iceberg,” Kurian said.

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Netapp has a global centre in Bengaluru, its largest centre worldwide, housing more than 3,000 employees. The centre handles all global functions such as go to market, technology operations, customer support, research and development. Netapp said it is also working with government bodies in 22 Indian states and does business with the top six IT firms and top 10 financial institutions in the country.In terms of slowing growth of hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Azure, Kurian downplayed the impact saying that the cloud providers benefited during the Covid-19 pandemic as cloud infrastructure was the only way to serve clients and employees as data centres couldn’t be operated.

He said while the pandemic-era saw the customer experience applications operate on the public cloud, currently mission critical applications are being delivered from the cloud.

“They saw higher-than-expected growth rates during those times. What we have seen since is a period of optimisation now, which is natural. We are working with cloud providers to enable the next phase of growth– demanding and mission critical applications such as SAP and electronic medical record applications run on the public cloud now,” Kurian said.

“How we see the opportunity for AI is it is fueled by data. And, data runs on Netapp. It’s new applications of data that will help transform businesses. We have been in the AI market since 2018 when we started to work together with Nvidia. We have seen successes in predictive AI that’s used in manufacturing, financial services, life sciences” he said in response to a question on AI.

On the further strengthening of India’s position on the global stage, Kurian said one of the challenges which needs to be addressed is that the country’s businesses need to “balance” serving both Indian and global markets.

“There is opportunity for Indian businesses to become globally scaled players. We have done that in IT services but there is opportunity to do that in more businesses. It (India) should also make sure that the Indian population benefits from broad access to wealth creation, education and technology skills. Energy, transportation and infrastructure are key components to becoming a successful manufacturing centre,” he said.

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