HCL plans to double its workforce of Microsoft experts within two years.

Jeffrey Schwartz

February 28, 2020

5 Min Read
Speech Bubbles

HCL Technologies is the latest Microsoft partner to from a business unit. The global IT services and solution provider, based in Noida, India, generated $9.7 billion in revenue last year and has 149,000 employees. HCL announced the formation of its Microsoft Business Unit (MBU) last month.

The new MBU isn’t HCL’s first business unit focused on a specific technology alliance partner, but it’s one of a few. HCL also is investing significant resources into expanding the unit focused on the Microsoft technology stack. Channel Futures reached out to Kalyan Kumar, HCL’s corporate VP and CTO for IT business services, to learn more about the structure of this initiative and where the company sees the largest opportunities.

Channel Futures: Now that HCL has formed this business unit, what does it mean? Will you be adding new people?


HCL Technologies’ Kalyan Kumar

Kalyan Kumar: We are building a new team that will be an overlay team of evangelists, business developers, Microsoft enterprise solution architects and other people who cut across all the Microsoft stack. And we are adding more people in the field. The top priority of the Microsoft business unit is to drive enablement capability and new skills across the larger delivery ecosystem from Microsoft.

CF: What is the time frame for bringing that all together?

KK: We already have close to 5,500 people on the Microsoft stack. Our plan is to double this within about 24 months and take it to 11,000-plus who are certified on the Microsoft ecosystem. The business unit is already active.

CF: What is the driver for doubling it? Is the pipeline that strong?

KK: We’re seeing that now with our large platform ecosystems: Microsoft, Google, AWS and a few others. We are really starting to bet around a few of them and are starting to build a plan and capacity. And we’re going to hire a lot of new talent. We’re going to skill them across the globe because there’s a significant demand for the Microsoft technology across our customer base and also across our prospect base.

CF: What are some of the opportunities and pain points you are hearing from clients that the Microsoft business unit will address?

KK: There are four big areas. One, we’re seeing this whole move toward modernization as a team. How do I modernize infrastructure? And how do I modernize applications? If you look back at the Microsoft stack, there’s a big installed base of Microsoft operating systems across the globe and databases from the core Microsoft technologies. We have customers running environments going back to Windows Server 2003. They have to be upgraded and modernized. The same thing with SQL Server, the .NET Framework and applications written with more monolithic architectures. There’s a clear demand to modernize, with Azure becoming a good target for both infrastructure and application modernization.

The second is we’re seeing a big focus around SAP — modernization, especially around how [to] take SAP into hyperscaler environments. And if you’ve seen the embrace by Microsoft of the SAP S4 Move program, there is a very clear interlock around large customers in high-tech manufacturing. These are big verticals with a big massive SAP footprint wanting to migrate into Azure.

The third is workplace modernization, which there’s a massive push around. This includes Windows 10 and the whole push update model. There’s a lot of interest among customers to modernize their workplace environment across devices, the ability to seamlessly access resources across a mobile environment and to become more productive with collaboration and …

… unified communications. And the fourth is around creating an innovation ecosystem, where customers want to build new applications, build new models, use better data ingestion and analytics to drive better insight.

CF: Is the nature of the engagements with client changing, meaning are they looking for a traditional outsourced type arrangement, or consulting, or are they looking for more of a managed service type operation?

KK: I would say a mix of all three. When you look at infrastructure modernization, they’re clearly looking at it as a managed service or operating it in the outsourced environment. When you look at application modernization, they are looking at us to work with them in a collaborative resource model to be able to drive the outcome. And in certain areas, they still want to work on project-based, especially on business applications.

CF: Are you seeing a lot of these customers also looking to go to Dynamics 365?

KK: We’ve got this three-pronged strategy we are seeing with Dynamics. One is what we call the “surround strategy,” when they use it to surround the core applications; the second is an expansion strategy, a new business unit trying to use Dynamics, or it might be a replacement strategy.

CF: What are they typically replacing?

KK: Custom apps. Bespoke applications, small scale. CRM. Tons of SugarCRM and things like that. We’ve also seen some cases where they’re not expanding on Salesforce but expanding on Dynamics. So we’re seeing a mix of all.

CF: Why are they replacing their applications with Dynamics?

KK: Dynamics has matured a lot. It’s become very well-integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem. So customers we’re seeing want the majority of their apps around the Azure ecosystem. Salesforce is growing at a good rate on their own. But we’re seeing that the decisions now are no longer just point decisions. They’re stepping back and looking at their holistic ecosystem.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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