Interviews, News

“We can bring simplicity and efficiency to our customers when it comes to adopting AI.” – Ranjith Kaippada, Cloud Box Technologies

CNME Editor Mark Forker secured an exclusive interview with Ranjith Kaippada, Managing Director at Cloud Box Technologies, to find out more about their perspectives on their approach to security, what makes them stand out from other system integrators in the market, challenges around remote working and cloud migration – and the opportunities presented by AI.

Ranjith Kaippada, Cloud Box Technologies
Ranjith Kaippada, Cloud Box Technologies

Ranjith Kaippada is one of the most respected channel leaders in the Middle East.

In a career spanning 20+years, he has established himself as one of the leading lights within the IT ecosystem across the region.

Kaippada started his career in Dubai with Ingram Micro, and remained with them until 2012. In 2012, he joined StorIT, a data storage specialist in the VAD space.

In 2019, he moved to Cloud Box Technologies as their Director of Sales Operations, but after one year he was appointed as the company’s new Managing Director.

Under his tutelage, Cloud Box Technologies have enjoyed phenomenal success and continue to be heading in an upward trajectory under his guidance.

For the front cover of April’s edition of CNME, we sat down with Kaippada to examine and explore a whole range of different topics in a bid to get a better handle on what he sees the future direction of the company and what technologies and areas they are going to focus on to maintain their success.

Last year, Cloud Box Technologies decided to establish a separate entity called RA Technologies that was focused solely on providing best-in-class security services to their customers.

Kaippada began our conversation by stressing how their consultative approach was a key market differentiator for them and highlighted their commitment to security, which inevitably led to the creation of their Security Operations Centre (SOC).

“Cloud Box Technologies is one of the most premium and prominent system integrators in the Middle East region. Typically, we are very focused on projects where we take full ownership of end-to-end activities from a consulting perspective all the way to the implementation process. I think this is what gives us the upper hand over our market rivals in terms of the projects and customers that we handle. In addition to this, we are also very focused in terms of addressing the security needs of our customers. We strive to ensure that they receive the right support when it comes to their overall security architecture. This commitment to the security needs of our customers actually triggered us to establish our own separate organisation called RA Technologies that is completely focused on security operating services. This Security Operations Centre (SOC) has been purposedly designed to address all the security concerns of the customers, by identifying the vulnerabilities and gaps that exist within their security frameworks. We provide them with accurate feedback on what tools, solutions and software they need to implement and adopt to bolster their security and better protect their data and critical assets,” said Kaippada.

The issue of data sovereignty is still a pressing concern for many entities across the UAE, but the benefit of the SOC established by RA Technologies is the fact that it is based locally.

“Businesses are reassured by the fact that the information we handle is not compromised by it being sent to another country to be analysed, it’s all done in-house, and we’re a local player that is fully committed to serving the needs of the region. Every business is offering SOC services, but there are some hard questions to be asked, such as is it a real SOC, is it based here in the UAE, or is their team sitting in a different country managing it? These are the assessments you need to carry out when considering a SOC, because you need to determine is the right support going to be extended,” said Kaippada.

Kaippada reiterated how there are so many gaps when it comes to security, and the emergence of new threats all the time when life extremely difficult for CIOs and CISOs.

However, new technologies can equip IT leaders with the solutions they need to bolster their security offering, but again the challenge for businesses can be what technology works for them.

Again, this is an area in which Kaippada feels Cloud Box Technologies excel in terms of selling their customers security products that are tried and tested.

“Organisations don’t want to purchase software that is not the right fit for their organisation. There are plenty of security products on the market, but how do you know what is right for your organisation? A lot of these products are expensive, so a lot of businesses can’t afford to experiment with some of these products. So that’s where we are trying to be unique from other players because we always have software that are tested in our SOC, and we have a demo, which is available for customers to work on it. We also offer our security services for short periods, whether it be for 1-month, or 2-months in order to allow them to touch and feel what they are going to get from us. We practice what we preach. So when we offer something to our customers, we make sure that has been rigorously tested in our SOC. We’re confidently selling them a security product that we know works, and that is how we differentiate ourselves from our market competitors,” said Kaippada.

Remaining on the topic of security, a huge challenge for businesses has been the advent of remote working.

The concept was born out of necessity in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but many employees have chosen to remain at home post-pandemic, and whilst that flexibility has empowered workers, it has also left them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

“The concept of working remotely started as we all know during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight companies were forced into having a different set-up in order to be able to accommodate their employees to access their software and critical applications from home. However, there have been many challenges, and there has been some high-profile security breaches as a result of employees working remotely and offsite. The threats have always been there, but the access to the sensitive information that hackers want has changed. In the past they would have had to break firewalls, but now with employees sitting outside the compounds of the office at home, it is much easier for hackers to access their data. We’re helping customers deal with this challenge of protecting their data and critical assets by providing them with expert consultancy. They need to determine what are the rights steps they need to take to ensure their staff is protected at all times, and again we can leverage our knowledge and expertise through our SOC to enable them to do this effectively,” said Kaippada.

Cloud Box Technologies is a nascent player in the channel ecosystem, but a testament to their success has been their ability to go toe-to-toe with players that have over 30 years of experience in the industry.

When pressed on what differentiates Cloud Box Technologies from the other players in what is both a saturated and ultra-competitive marketplace, Kaippada again emphasised their consultative approach as a key component in their success.

“I think a key factor in our success has been the approach we’ve taken when dealing with the challenges and needs of our customers. We talk a lot about consultancy, but ultimately what that translates to is getting the right products and solutions to our customers. We don’t just sell a product for the sake of it, we view our relationships with our customers as partnerships and we want them to travel on a journey with us for several years. We don’t want to make one sale, and then that’s the end of it, we are all about partnerships. In addition to this, we’re always looking at integrating the newest technologies into the product, so as the lifecycle of that product evolves, our relationship with our customers also evolves. Our consultative approach makes us different, and the way we deliver and commit to our customers really makes us stand out from the crowd,” said Kaippada.

Kaippada pointed out that many enterprises are still reluctant to embark on a cloud migration journey because they are so used to traditional on-premises methods and fear the complexity involved.

He added that the challenges facing customers are different depending on the industry vertical that they operate in, but there are some commonalties.

“In terms of cloud migration, the older more traditional players will find it harder to adopt new technologies and integrate it into their existing systems. It’s important to acknowledge that transformation isn’t easy because everybody within the organisation needs to start thinking differently. You can decide to embark on a digital transformation journey, but the challenge comes in terms of setting up things and knowing where to start, and where you want to go to. Businesses need help and that’s where we as Cloud Box Technologies come in and devise a plan for them to successfully execute their digital transformation objectives,” said Kaippada.

The Managing Director of Cloud Box Technologies also distinguished the differences that businesses face when it comes to complexity.

“What we hear from some CIOs is that they have to upgrade, but upgrading a system is not a challenge, how you actually transform your operations is where the challenge really lies. The real complexity with migration comes when businesses have multiple workloads, for example in the retail industry, the big players will have oceans of data, so when it comes to migrating to the cloud and upgrading those customers are going to face issues around complexity when it comes to transformation. Whereas, SMEs will not face the same complexity problems during their transformation program. But regardless of their size, it’s our job to help, and that’s what we’re committed to doing,” said Kaippada.

Gen AI is everywhere, and whilst the benefits the technology will provide are endless, there are some valid concerns over data privacy and security.

However, Kaippada stressed the need for businesses to know how to effectively harness the benefits of AI before adopting the technology, whilst he praised the UAE leadership for its progressive approach towards artificial intelligence.

“We all know that more and more businesses are adopting AI into their operations. I think Dubai has become a real leader when it comes to AI adoption, and the UAE in general has been very progressive and forward-thinking when it comes to AI. It was the first nation in the world to appoint a dedicated Minister for AI. However, the questions businesses need to ask is how can we effectively use AI, and how will the integration of AI improve our business? Again, with our consultative approach we are helping businesses determine what direction they need to go when it comes to harnessing the capabilities of AI. The Government in the UAE has shown tremendous vision and foresight when it comes to AI and you can see in industries like healthcare the impact the introduction of AI has had in terms of transforming patient experiences,” said Kaippada.

Kaippada reinforced his belief that the future is undoubtedly AI, and disclosed that it reminded him of the evolution of mobile technology.

He also revealed that the company had signed some major partnership agreements in relation to AI.

“We couldn’t imagine our lives without our smartphones now, as it features in every facet of our daily lives. I think we’ll get to that stage with AI, and it’ll happen much quicker than it did with mobile technology. Everything in the future is going to be AI. From a Cloud Box Technologies perspective, we have signed some agreements with leading providers who are investing heavily into the R&D of AI. We have identified a couple of vendors who have the capability of executing some major AI projects. We’re at the forefront of technology and the partnership we have with these vendors will only serve to help us address the needs of our customers when it comes to AI. Again, this is what makes Cloud Box Technologies unique, because we have people that can talk about AI, and know it inside out, and we can bring simplicity, efficiency and profitability to our customers when it comes to AI,” said Kaippada.

A big part of the success of Cloud Box Technologies has been their desire to always push forward and always look at ways to which they can further innovate and better serve their customers.

Kaippada concluded a wonderful interview by reiterating the importance of being agile and adaptable.

“We know that new technologies inevitably mean that as a business you need to be agile and adaptable. That means that we need to alter our traditional way of selling and have to approach it in a different way. We know that our strength is our consultative approach, and we make sure that we can complete projects on time because we are all about serving our customers. The adoption of new technologies is a key focus for Cloud Box Technologies because we can’t sit still, because in our industry if you become stagnant then you won’t survive. The landscape and conditions are changing, so we need to evolve and change with that. When you bring new solutions to the market customers want to learn more about them and people want to work with companies who are proactively looking to use technology to enhance the services they provide, and that’s what we do at Cloud Box Technologies. The best illustration of that from our perspective is the agreements we have brokered with leading service providers in relation to AI. By working with them we are trying to bring out a unique solution and this will be a gamechanger for us in the years to come,” concluded Kaippada.

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