Interview

Start-ups Must Prioritize Data Security from Day One – Prabhakar Jayakumar, DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean is an American cloud computing platform, built with simplicity at the forefront, so managing infrastructure is easy, whether your business is running one virtual machine or ten thousand.

DigitalOcean gets out of your way so teams can build, deploy, and scale cloud applications faster and more efficiently.

In order to know about their journey and vision, Team Bizztor interviewed Prabhakar Jayakumar, Country Director at DigitalOcean India.

Aaina: Hello Ladies and gentlemen. This is Aaina. And you are watching expert speak presented by Bizztor. We at Bizztor believe that a key driver for the success of startups is having the knowledge and access to resources at the right time. And that’s what we’ll be bringing you in this show starting with our first episode.

Today we have with us, a person whose organization is on a mission to simplify cloud computing so developers and their teams can spend more time building the software that can change the world. So let’s welcome Mr. Prabhakar Jayakumar, Country Director at DigitalOcean India. We are delighted to have you on the show. Thank you for joining us. So a lot to learn, a lot to discuss.

Sir, you are from NITK Surathkal and graduated from IIM Bangalore and then you went to evolve as a multifaceted personality in technology-focused businesses. So what has been your journey like? Can you please shed some light on it?

Prabhakar: I was one of the early hires at Amazon when they were setting Amazon.in. Similarly, I was the first hire for DigitalOcean in India. In both of these stints, I’ve had the opportunity to set up things from the ground up and eventually scaling them. These organizations have given me the opportunity to work on interesting go-to-market initiatives.

So tell us about the DigitalOcean and the services and products you offer?

Prabhakar: DigitalOcean is a cloud infrastructure platform loved by developers worldwide. We essentially play in what’s called as Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) space and we are a public cloud platform.

Applications on the internet need to be powered by server resources. Instead of having servers in-house, businesses use cloud computing services for a few reasons: to ensure ease of use, lower costs and management of these servers is a lot easier. Public cloud helps on all of these fronts.

When DigitalOcean started out, there were other cloud computing platforms that were already in the market. As a developer-centric organization and as developers ourselves, one thing we found challenging was that several of the existing solutions did not really solve the pain points of the developer. They were complex to use. It was difficult to navigate the UI. The user experience was not great and also the pricing was not the most competitive. At DigitalOcean, we set out to solve those problems. So we said, we will build a public cloud computing experience which will be very simple and intuitive to use and we launched Droplets. Droplets is nothing but a phrase for a cloud server at DigitalOcean. Starting with that, all the way up to all the products we have launched to date, we have kept simplicity at the core. And, that is why it attracts a lot of developer audience. We want developers to spend time on building application logic and not worry about infrastructure management and that’s what we are set to do as a company.

We try to do a lot of heavy lifting on behalf of the developers so that they go on to build the applications that will change the world.

How is DigitalOcean powering up startups and SMEs? What’s the difference it is creating for them in terms of products and service?

Prabhakar: As a company, we went through an accelerator program ourselves when we started. We went through TechStars, the accelerator back in USA and we learnt a lot from the ecosystem including best practices and what we could do better.

One thing we wanted to do is to pay it forward. So, one of the programs that we have created for this purpose is called the Hatch program.

Hatch is our program to work with upcoming or early stage startups and helping them grow to the next level. We do that in a couple of ways: One is we give them cloud credits or infrastructure credits. We provide a year-long worth free credit and especially as a bootstrapped startup or an early stage startup, where you have limited resources, we make life easier for them and they don’t have to spend money on cloud infrastructure.

We also provide a lot of technical help in the form of architecture reviews. As startups, you will have limited tech resources. You are looking for an additional pair of eyes to review your architecture and suggest best practices on what else you could do. As part of the Hatch program, our internal tech experts review the tech architecture for a startup, give feedback and we also invite a lot of these startups for networking events such as Hatch Founders’ Circle. Hatch globally has a lot of high growth startups. We bring alums of Hatch into multiple networking events where newer startups have an opportunity to interact and learn from them. It’s a good opportunity for them to seek opportunities where they can cross collaborate. We also provide options for startups to pitch their ideas to VCs because as a part of Hatch, we tie up with top-tier venture capital firms, accelerators, and incubators.

According to you, how critical it is for startups to choose companies for hosting their data?

Prabhakar: Today most companies use some element of technology in their operations and they use the internet in some form or shape. A majority of them use a public cloud and one thing they care about is that they want a simple experience.

They don’t want their teams to work on things that have a very steep learning curve – else, they will spend a lot of time in just understanding and navigating and seeking additional support. If they run into a roadblock or run into an issue, can they get that support without having to additionally pay for the support? Is there a larger ecosystem of users or community they can tap into? So, these are the kind of things that start-ups, whether they are in India or anywhere around the globe, look for or should use as parameters when evaluating a public cloud provider or a hosting provider.

Sir, nations want to access their citizens’ data which is located on Global Cloud Stool Data Localisation. What impact do you think data localization and national data control would have on the ecosystem?

Prabhakar: I think that security is not an option. As a startup, as you build your applications or bring your ideas to life, you also want to ensure that you are thinking about securing your customer’s data right from day one. The kind of software you use and the kind of vendors you work with, you want to ensure you are doing due diligence and that they care about security and privacy as much as you do.

Specifically talking about DigitalOcean as a company, we take security and privacy seriously. To ensure our data is safe, we not only invest in processes and software to safeguard our customer data but also also constantly evaluate for anything additional we can use from the market to ensure that our systems are kept secure from bad actors out there.

How important do you think data security is from a startup’s point of view or any recent example of data security breach which you can quote?

Prabhakar: There are several examples about data breach in the recent past that is out there in the media – so instead of talking about that, I would like to comment on the importance of data security. Many times start-ups build an MVP or a minimum viable product. At that stage, they want to convert their idea into something that works that they can demo and do not focus a lot on security. While that’s okay to get started, sometimes the cost of going back and reworking to incorporate security becomes an expensive task and overhead. Sometimes it becomes so difficult that they have to redo or re-think their entire architecture.

Which is why my suggestion is that data privacy and security should not be an afterthought for startups. Do bake in security, even if your application is at the MVP stage. You don’t have to implement all the security best practices that are out there on day one – but ensure that the critical ones are implemented so that as you scale your product and as you scale your application, you are able to combine and incorporate the other ones.

Aaina: Thanks a lot, sir. It was a privilege to have you on this show. Your enlightened words would have surely benefited our viewers in some way or the other. We got to know so much about data security and your accelerator program and how it can benefit the startups.

Digital Ocean is absolutely the right choice to be made in the field of cloud computing with 12 datacenters across the globe, reaching to customers in 195 countries. Well, thanks to you on behalf of Team Bizztor for joining us today. Thank you so much

Digital Ocean is absolutely the right choice to be made in the field of cloud computing with 12 datacenters across the globe customers reach in 195 countries. Well, thanks to you on behalf of Team Bizztor for joining us today. Thank you so much.