As the maxim says, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
Safe Swiss Cloud: an Interview with Prodosh Banerjee, CEO
As the demand for cloud services grows rapidly, the needs and requests of clients are also becoming more diverse. Industry specifics, geographic considerations such as infrastructure and accessibility, legal requirements of the countries, and many other factors are shaping the types of needs for cloud services. In order to respond to this ever-changing demand, cloud service providers have to keep up with the trends and diversify their offerings, which in parallel creates new business opportunities and allows new players to design services that match the custom needs of their clients.
Switzerland is an important economic player, with its pharmaceutical and watch industries, financial services, and with many international organizations. About 72% of the Swiss GDP is generated by the service sector and 27% by the industrial sector. Banking is one of the most important service businesses in the country, especially well-known for its high level of security and privacy standards which are regulated and guaranteed by Swiss laws.
The Swiss finance sector could be viewed as a ‘Business Ecosystem’ comprised of a network of organizations including suppliers, distributors, customers, competitors and government agencies. The Ecosystem is made up of not only large enterprises or international companies, but also many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who make up over 99% of Swiss firms.
By knowing all of these specifications and requirements, as well as noticing and analyzing opportunities, cloud business providers evolve to better match business needs in order to step up to the competition. There are many international service providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure, however, there are now more Swiss companies who offer competitive and local services.
In order to better understand the cloud business in Switzerland and what gives its competitive advantage, we interviewed Prodosh Banerjee, CEO of Safe Swiss Cloud AG.
Safe Swiss Cloud is a safe and secure cloud computing service based in Switzerland, offering its customers innovative computing, storage and managed cloud services. As Mr. Banerjee emphasized, their mission is to transform enterprise cloud infrastructure by making it really easy to use, while using its Swiss location to meet customer compliance and privacy requirements under Swiss laws and EU regulations.
In addition, Safe Swiss Cloud engages in research and development projects supported by the Swiss government at the Institute of Applied Information Technology (InIT) at the Zürich University of Applied Sciences. The company’s goal is to continue to deliver advanced security and cloud innovation to its customers.
Safe Swiss Cloud offers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), with a Virtual Data Center as its main product. Quoting Mr. Banerjee, “All services to a customer are provided within their own, safe Virtual Data Center, which combines the advantages of public cloud economics with those of the private cloud.”
“We are aware of the fact that customers are looking for speed, flexibility and security,” Banerjee added in describing client demand. “They don’t want to wait for hardware availability. They want to create servers and networks within minutes so they can start working with them immediately.”
Safe Swiss Cloud’s answer to these requests is via virtual servers (virtual machines), software defined networking components like virtual routers (VR), virtual private networks (VPN), isolated network segments and load balancers.
The target market for the Safe Swiss Cloud is business customers. However, Mr. Banerjee highlights that the company doesn’t limit itself to a specific business type or geographical area, or to a certain volume (their current capacity is very large). They boast being able to meet client demands of any size.
Safe Swiss Cloud’s client portfolio includes software development companies, financial service ecosystem players, e-commerce, healthcare, media, IT departments of companies, and IT service providers and resellers.
The benefits of cloud computing for companies are very well known: no CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and no asset management, flexibility, service quality improvements, cost and time saving can be mentioned at the first glance. However, the advantages of using Swiss-based cloud providers to the clients, rather than working with worldwide providers like Amazon or Azure, remain an important question. “Security, reliability, flexibility, and the Swiss location make us different from global players,” he replies.
Indeed, he is right to consider security first. It is a well-known fact that US-based cloud providers are having a hard time in Europe due to the Patriot Act, which allows US government institutions to access information and perform inspections on the data of any US company, including cloud providers. Therefore, customer data hosted on their cloud platforms can be searched at any time. On the other hand, the Swiss finance sector has specific requirements that respect the Swiss reputation in the finance sector of secrecy, and being compliant with these regulations is quite difficult for US-based players due to the Patriot Act.
As Mr. Banerjee stated, Safe Swiss Cloud hosts all of its cloud infrastructure in Switzerland, which guarantees the highest data security by technical measures that legal restrictions based on Swiss data privacy laws allows. The company is also compliant with the Swiss financial regulator’s (FINMA-RS 08/7) guidelines for banking outsourcing.
Local vs. International
Flexibility is the other important differentiating factor, Banerjee emphasizes: “Among several benefits, we can mention speed and performance for IT resources, more efficient utilization of IT resources, lower IT infrastructure costs, lower IT operational costs, and increased capacity to handle peaks in demand for IT resources.”
It is a fact that the need for business continuity management is growing rapidly, driven by both the regulatory compliance requirements and the stakeholders’ demands. In line with this situation, Safe Swiss Cloud takes Business Continuity Management very seriously, and defines it as another significant differentiator.
Finally, one tends to consider that international players would have a competitive cost advantage on Swiss-based companies due to the fact that they benefit from economies of scale or offshore resourcing. Yet contrary to common belief, Switzerland is not an expensive country for data center hosting. Compared to other European locations, Switzerland is quite competitive in terms of electricity, housing, networking, hardware, location and taxes.
In the end, it would be a fair observation to say that local cloud providers are acting to fill the gap of security and privacy that international cloud providers cannot fill due to specific requirements of not only Swiss laws and regulations but also of US laws. Enterprise customers in Switzerland are evaluating Swiss-based cloud solutions because of their rightful privacy and security concerns. This drives the growth of cloud services business in Switzerland and Europe.
When asked about Safe Swiss Cloud’s strategy for the near future and in the long term, Banerjee affirms that the “focus is on innovation for business customers, especially in the area of security,” and adds that Safe Swiss Cloud has significant growth at an accelerating rate, proving the efficiency of their strategy.
Prodosh Banerjee, CEO of Safe Swiss Cloud AG, has nearly 30 years of experience in the IT industry and is passionate about using the cloud to upgrade IT solutions to the 21st century. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1982, he went on to get a Master of Science in Computer Science in 1985.