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AWS re:Invent 2021: Punish Malhotra

Punish Malhotra,

Senior Vice President,
Global Head of Cloud & Data

Published: October 29, 2021

After last year’s virtual event, AWS: re:Invent 2021 promises to be bigger and better than ever! As the world’s premier cloud computing experience, the five-day hybrid (in-person and online) event delivers expert sessions, hands-on workshops, and breakout sessions, along with big announcements about new AWS technology. As an AWS Strategic Collaboration Partner and gold sponsor, we look forward to bringing our team of cloud experts to Las Vegas to meet with our customers, partners, and colleagues and showcase Virtusa’s industry-leading cloud capabilities. Our SVP and Global Head of Cloud and Data, Punish Malhotra, is heading to the event and taking meetings with attendees. Here, he shares background on our partnership with AWS and what to expect from the event and discussions with our team. 

Book time with Punish at re:Invent. 

Virtusa is an AWS Strategic Collaboration Partner—how does this partnership enhance Virtusa’s offerings?

Over the last nine years, we have had a partnership with AWS, but we have really accelerated the journey over the past three and a half years. The overall acceleration of the cloud and AWS journey is closely tied to Virtusa’s strategy to diversify, invest, grow, and help our customers digitize. In the past, we pursued a lot of application-focused or application-based digital transformation work—building mobile apps and customer experience portals and websites. However, our focus wasn’t on helping customers through the end-to-end transformation journey—and that's where the AWS partnership came into play. We needed to go deep with a few technology providers to scale up the cloud business, and AWS was on top of that list. 

We signed a strategic collaboration agreement with AWS, the first of its kind in the industry. At the time, we only had about 150 people supporting the overall AWS partnership, and today, we have more than 3000! The key tenants of the agreement focused on building a reasonably large and scalable practice. It was vital for us to find ways to ramp up, and one of the ways we did was by providing certification training enablement. The second thing was to get more expertise. Cloud is extraordinarily vast, and we wanted to focus on critical areas to build capability, whether by creating solutions, growing our team of experts, or collaborating to develop an IP accelerator to help customers fast track the adoption of that capability or service.

The third piece was focused on our go-to-market and sales plan to showcase Virtusa as an AWS strategic partner. To develop brand awareness, it was essential for us to focus our message on specific cloud capabilities—to highlight that we are a trusted AWS partner specializing in the healthcare, life sciences, media, and telecom industries. 

How is Virtusa working to address the current skills shortage through the AWS partnership?

There's a lot of talk about the skills shortage, and companies worldwide are trying to solve that. As we’ve scaled the business in the last three years, we've built an excellent factory model where we can train, certify, and deploy people on projects to get relevant experience even before they are deployed on that work—in a manner that's very easily scalable. And it shows—again, we were able to grow from 150 to 3000 people supporting the business in three years. It wasn't an easy task, but to get there, we've created tools and an organizational framework, along with the right kind of learning and development practices that empowers our teams.

The industry-wide shortage of resources and skilled labor is going to continue, and the way we are going to tackle it is twofold. First, we're going to continue to accelerate our ability to train, certify and provide experience to our teams, so they become relevant in the cloud ecosystem—and that is open to everyone at Virtusa. From architects to our sales team, AWS training and certification is available.  

Secondly, we are working closely with our talent acquisition function and driving a lot of specialized hiring and onboarding—the AWS skillset, that whole ecosystem, is highly relevant to onboarding talent from outside and incubating it in the organization, so we're using those two mechanics. Lastly, we have a lot of programs that are focused on hiring from universities around the world which is another excellent way to scale up as quickly and strategically as possible. 

AWS: Reinvent celebrates its 10th year, November 29-December 3, 2021, in Las Vegas. Why is it important for Virtusa to be there? What can attendees expect from the event?

This year marks a milestone of sorts for Virtusa, as we reached the first three-year term of our partnership with AWS in August. After last year’s virtual event, the event will be a great chance to come together in person with the AWS team and our customers—to celebrate our collective achievements, successes and to look forward to what’s next! While they are under wraps, we have some upcoming plans that we look forward to announcing. A quick spoiler: it will be a large-scale program for Virtusa customers. 

Re:Invent will be significant for us as we meet customers face-to-face and understand their needs. It will allow us to work more closely with the overall AWS professional service organization and bring the best of both worlds to our customers to deliver different programs.

Why should attendees book a meeting with you at re:Invent?

The AWS practice has been in evolution for a long time now. The strategic collaboration agreement, our focus on scaling the practice, and the new solutions we've built culminate at this event. In other words, we’ve done the work, and now the product is ready. So, it’s an exciting time for customers to meet with us and see what we can deliver across different industries—and how customer-focused our product has become. Customers will get a good understanding of the deep capabilities we have developed around data, analytics, AI, machine learning, and how they can approach digital transformation with Virtusa, no matter what stage of the cloud journey they are at. 

This year, Virtusa’s theme at the event is Ideate. Accelerate. Optimize. How do these aspirations align with your current business goals? 


    In 2021, almost everyone has a cloud strategy—whether they have migrated one or 10,000 VMs to the cloud—the end goal is to get to this digital technology ecosystem to harness the public cloud and edge computing power. Since many customers are early in the journey, they need a partner to sit and ideate with, brainstorm, figure out what workloads and business functions to target first, and how to adopt cloud when there is no singular path. I believe a good 60-70% of our customers still need a lot of ideation help whether they have adoption on public cloud or not. Enterprises need someone to sit down with them and ideate by doing pilot projects, running assessments, building blueprints, and making strategic recommendations. This is an essential part of our offering.

    Whether you are an early-stage adaptor, somewhere in between, or you have done a lot of migrations, the most critical piece that you're going to look to a company like Virtusa for is accelerating that journey. And that's an area where we made deep investments, not just by training and certifying people (building a global workforce) but also by building tools and IP accelerators for rapid cloud adoption. This will always be the key to our business—it’s not to leave ideations in the sandbox but to execute, implement, and accelerate cloud adoption. 

    This idea is focused on a subset of our customers that have a cloud footprint. As CIOs and CTOs build their cloud strategy, they're focused on taking a more proactive approach to cloud optimization. Virtusa helps at this stage by putting the governance, tooling, operations, and mechanisms in place upfront so that they are constantly running their applications and workloads in the most optimized manner on the cloud. Optimization is a constant goal as the business moves forward in the cloud. 

What are you most looking forward to at AWS re:Invent? 

Walking all over the place and getting my steps in! I haven't been able to do that in a long time since working from home. I look forward to walking from one meeting to another and enjoying dinner with customers, partners, and my team members at the end of the day. It will be nice to sit down face to face since we haven’t been able to meet anyone in the last 19 months.

Explore more about the AWS and Virtusa partnership.

Learn more about AWS re:Invent.

Punish Malhotra

Senior Vice President,
Global Head of Cloud & Data

Punish Malhotra is SVP, Global Head of Cloud and Data business at Virtusa. In this role he leads Virtusa, Alliance, Sales and GTM worldwide for all Cloud and Data partnerships. He was instrumental is starting Virtusa’s cloud practice in 2014.  

Prior to Virtusa, Punish has worked with Wipro, EPAM and HCL in multiple leadership positions, working with customers across Financial Service, Media, Communication, Information services and HiTech sector. He is passionate about how technology enables, interacts and impacts our day-to-day life.

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