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Interview with Zoho product evangilist: Raju Vegesna

Raju Vagesna is the Product Evangelist at Zoho corp. Raju spoke to us about Zoho's product.

theCloudTutorial: What have been the key historic milestones in the history of Zoho?

Raju Vegesna: Its a short history for Zoho (I assume we are talking about and not zoho corp). First, it was an exciting start launching an Office suite and being the first vendor to offer the office suite online. When Google entered the market, that was a significant event as it validated the market. Every product release was important as it reinforced our commitment to cloud apps. Within three years, we we serving 1 million users. While that was exciting, we were serving another million users in about a year from then. There are several milestones like these. While these were some milestones externally, there were several internal milestones as we gained expertise in creating and running scalable web apps.

theCloudTutorial: In which categories does Zoho offer products? Which are the main products of Zoho?

Raju Vegesna: We offer several Productivity, Collaboration Business Apps. Our popular apps include our Office Suite, CRM, Creator, Mail, Projects etc.

theCloudTutorial: What is the difference between the free version of your product and the paid version?

Raju Vegesna: This varies by product. All Zoho Apps have free versions. All our apps are free for individuals. Our Business Suite if free for the first 10 users in a business while our CRM app is free for the first three users. It varies based on app. In general, there are two types of models - User based & Usage based. Apps like CRM, Business etc which are free for certain number of users fall under 'User based' pricing model while apps like Projects, Invoice etc fall under 'Usage Based' model. In both cases, we have a generous free version.

theCloudTutorial: Which new products is Zoho planning to launch in the next 12 to 18 months?

Raju Vegesna: While we don't talk about our upcoming product, I should say I am excited about our roadmap.

theCloudTutorial: From a user perspective what are the advantages of using products in Software-as-a-Service model compared to standard products installed on desktops.

Raju Vegesna: There are several advantages that has been talked about and this topic has probably been beaten to death. Some of the advantages of SaaS apps include... The end user need not worry about 'upgrading/updating' of apps as they are always on the latest version. It is all done at the backend. Mobility is important as they can be accessed from any device/location/OS/Browser. User's data is automatically backed up which the user need not worry about. All the apps run on powerful servers which allow users to run them in a fairly low powered devices like netbooks or phones. The list goes on...

theCloudTutorial: In the online office space, Zoho directly competes with the largest software organizations of the world. How does Zoho plan to compete with the Googles and Microsofts of the world?

Raju Vegesna: We compete and complement with larger players accepting the realities of this market. Our advantages are breadth and depth of our applications. In any app we do, we go deeper than competition and when combined this with the breadth of our offerings, we believe we have a compelling suite it an affordable price. While we compete with vendors like Google, we also complement their offering. We have 50% more apps than Google in this market and we offer our Business Apps to Google's customers too.

theCloudTutorial: Does Zoho plan to offer any certifications on its products?

Raju Vegesna: Yes, our apps are US-EU Safe Harbor Certified for all our apps.

theCloudTutorial: Which cloud computing vendors other than yourselves, do you see growing exponentially in the next couple of years?

Raju Vegesna: We see many vendors (I don't want to name names here) with good products, priced right will do well in the market. Currently it is a rising tide and it'll lift all boats. Vendors who execute well and provide good value to their customers will succeed.

theCloudTutorial: Any cloud computing products that you use yourself?

Raju Vegesna: I use apps like Twitter, Delicious, Wordpress, etc. Most of my work is done through several Zoho Apps.

theCloudTutorial: Is the hype around cloud computing justified?

Raju Vegesna: In the bigger picture, yes. There is always a bubble for a reason. When the bubble bursts, the dust settles and the real worthy players emerge as winner. During a bubble, we see features emerge as companies. Even that stage passes, things come back to normal. We have seen that in the previous bubble where players like Salesforce, WebEx etc emerged as leading vendors from hundreds of companies.

theCloudTutorial: Which trends do you see in this decade for cloud computing?

Raju Vegesna: I see a big shift in apps moving to the cloud. This is already happening. We will see companies start using the apps in mainstream. The size of the companies using cloud apps will increase. I also see mobile market emerging. Cloud Apps combined with new generation smart phones is a powerful combination.

theCloudTutorial: Thanks for taking the time in answering our questions. It appears to be a very exciting time for cloud technology vendors like Zoho.

Raju Vegesna: Thanks for taking the time in answering our questions. It appears to be a very exciting time for cloud technology vendors like Zoho.