Along the sidelines of Capacity Middle East 2023, Telecom Review had an exclusive interview with Lightstorm’s Group CEO and MD, Amajit Gupta, to introduce what the company has to offer, how they maximize next-generation technologies and their plans for 2023, among other insights.
Please give a brief synopsis of what Lightstorm’s business is all about.
Lightstorm is building a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure to connect emerging economies in South Asia and South East Asia to the rest of the world. Lightstorm started with the idea to build a fiber-based, carrier-neutral platform across emerging Asian economies, starting with India, followed by Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal.
We have again disrupted the market by introducing the first-of-its-kind self-serve Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform, Polarin. We are also building a network of open Cable Landing Stations (CLSs) on the western and eastern coasts of India, which will open new routes and reduce overdependence on existing locations for CLS in India.
We will be starting operations in the Middle East to provide our customers with the state-of-the-art infrastructure to expand in the region. Over the last few years, the MEA region has emerged as a strategic business hub. Economic reforms and favorable government policies have helped UAE emerge as a destination for digital businesses. We are looking forward to using our expertise in building world-class digital infrastructure to help digital businesses grow and realize their potential in the growing digital economy.
Lightstorm is part of I-Squared Capital’s vision of building a global fabric of state-of-the-art digital infrastructure. Along with EXA Infrastructure and BDx, I-Squared wants to build a global network of terrestrial and subsea fiber networks for the cloud economy.
Can you elaborate on the benefits of your xScale Network, which is powered by the finest fiber infrastructure built for the cloud?
Typically, these countries are characterized by a massive surge in demand for quality internet but are restricted by a lack of quality communications infrastructure. Lightstorm is resolving these issues by building a first-of-its-kind digital infrastructure fiber platform focused on resolving the interconnection gap prevalent in Datacenter, Cloud and Internet infrastructure connectivity in several emerging markets in the South East Asia region.
Utility-grade fiber networks are designed especially for digital businesses. Robust and high-performing networks will propel the region’s economy by opening new opportunities and helping businesses realize their potential. Our network in India has been validated by several companies, including two of the top five Fortune 100 companies.
How does Lightstorm maximize next-generation technologies in providing modern, best-in-class services?
We have adopted a design-first approach by understanding our customers' pain points and then designing a network architecture to address these challenges. For instance, we use the utility-grade network to ensure massive availability (100% uptime) and that it is not susceptible to fiber cuts. Another differentiating factor of Lightstorm's Smartnet network is that it uses point-to-point linear links supported by leaf-spine mesh network architecture, allowing us to maximize uptime. This approach is very different from the way networks are built in an emerging economy.
From an industry leader’s perspective, how important is building a robust foundation for digital infrastructure, and how does this create new sources of value and differentiation for businesses?
The cloud has radically changed the way enterprises connect and run their businesses. Many startups today are born-in-the-cloud without having any physical on-premise infrastructure. Such enterprises have lived in the cloud and have high standards for user experience. However, when it comes to the networks connecting to the cloud, it is not in line with anything that the cloud offers. Our SmartNet addresses these problems by providing extreme availability and reliable connectivity to the enterprises. We are the only providers in India today offering 100% uptime and lowest latency.
Further, enterprises still end up paying high costs and having to endure long waiting periods to acquire connection to the cloud. Another problem faced by businesses is that they do not have visibility into their network and are completely dependent on the providers. We are changing this with the launch of our self-serve Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform, Polarin, which allows enterprises to acquire connection to cloud within a few minutes. It also provides the complete visibility, transparency, agility and flexibility desired by businesses and allows them to focus on their core competencies without being hampered by network issues.
How did Lightstorm perform in 2022, and how will those efforts impact your plans and vision for 2023 onwards?
It was an exciting year for us, and we grew multifold over the previous year. We are looking at accelerating the growth momentum in 2023 as we start operations in the Middle East and have started offering the NaaS platform, Polarin, to our customers. We also started operations in Indonesia last year. Apart from these new initiatives, we will continue to expand the SmartNet network in India and other countries in the South Asia and South East Asia region.
Connecting cities across Asia and the Middle East, what are the core demands of your customers and how will you continue to respond to these proactively?
Customers want greater control and transparency in their networks. Further, extreme reliability and availability are a given because any short downtime can lead to a significant loss of revenue for digital enterprises. The networks designed for the cloud are the need of the hour. Unfortunately, the present-day networks are not designed to provide these. We have been ahead of the curve by designing solutions with the customers in the past, and this philosophy will continue to be successful.
Strong partner support is crucial to helping Lightstorm scale new heights. Do you have any key partnerships in the pipeline? How do such partnerships strengthen a connected digital world?
Partnerships are crucial to the growth of our business. In the Middle East, we have partnered with Etisalat, Kalaam and Gulf Data Hub (GDH) to ensure a best-in-class experience for our customers. We also intend to partner with datamena (datacenter) to expand our presence in the region. These mutually beneficial partnerships will help us leverage our partner’s expertise in local infrastructure while we will provide our technical know-how, allowing both our partners and us to grow and realize our business objectives.