Over the years, cloud computing has gone through a remarkable evolution, both globally and in India. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), by the end of 2018, 75 per cent of Indian developer teams will include cloud based cognitive or artificial intelligence (AI) functionalities in one or more services. In this interview, Rishu Sharma, associate research manager, IDC India, shares some important information about this dynamic market with Sreemoyee Chatterjee of OSFY, which will help cloud service providers to take informed decisions when planning their marketing strategies.
Q Where does India stand in the list of cloud adopting regions?
As per the IDC Worldwide Semi-annual Public Cloud Services Tracker, in the first half of 2017, India was the third largest public cloud market in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ), reaching a value of about US$ 658 million. This is a very positive sign for cloud vendors to invest in this field.
Q Which sectors are the most promising for the cloud computing market in India?
Telecom, banking and discrete manufacturing lead the pack in spending on public cloud services as they look for greater scalability, higher performance and faster access to new technologies. Among these, telecom leads in terms of public cloud spending in India. Apart from their spending on infrastructure, including the server, storage and networking components, these industries are now looking at the cloud for SaaS offerings like collaborative applications, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise risk management (ERM), to name a few.
Q Apart from telecom, banking and discrete manufacturing, what are the other industries gradually adopting cloud computing in India, and are worth investing in?
Professional services, security services, investment services as well as the insurance sector are among other areas adopting cloud computing in India. We are also seeing high adoption of the cloud in non-conventional sectors like the media industry. In all these new sectors, cloud based platforms have helped to reduce manual effort in several not-so-important segments, thereby empowering them to invest more man hours for higher value added tasks. Hence, these sectors will evolve to become promising areas for cloud service providers to invest in, in the near future.
Q What new upgradations are likely to hit cloud computing functionalities in India? And how will that impact the cloud service providers?
Several enterprise software companies in India have already adopted cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) components and functionalities to provide predictions, assistance, recommendations and guidance on tasks within software. India will soon see a new era of cloud computing functionalities, with upgradations and new versions of software that will include machine learning analytic techniques or much broader cognitive/AI functionality. So the cloud service providers in the country will have to upgrade their service providing platforms in alignment with cognitive/AI components and functionalities.
Q What are the major challenges faced by cloud service providers in India?
The challenges faced are many, of which the major one is security. Other challenges include those associated with adhering to regulatory or compliance issues in accordance with RBI guidelines regarding data storage in India. Vendor and price lock-ins serve as another hindrance for the service providers.
Upgradation and providing solutions that allow for multi-cloud setups, as well as meeting the growing demand are the other issues that cloud service providers are facing at present. Apart from these technical and regulatory issues, penetrating the government sector is another major concern for the cloud vendors. Despite PM Modi’s ‘Digital India’ programme, it is still difficult for foreign vendors to enter the public sector.
Q Of the existing cloud vendors in India, how many of them are India based?
As per the reports of IDC’s public cloud tracker, the top seven cloud vendors or cloud service providers in India are multinational companies (MNCs) like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others. India based vendors have a minimal share in the country’s cloud market, mostly because it becomes difficult for these companies to compete with the operational scale of MNCs.
Q How profitable is the Indian cloud market for vendors?
Profitability depends on the scale of operations, and the top three to four cloud vendors have a very profitable business in India. As and when the end users realise that the cloud is the way forward and has immense benefits, the profitability of cloud vendors will also increase.
Q What role do cloud service providers play in terms of providing AI/IoT based solutions?
All the top cloud vendors in the country have begun launching solutions with cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) components. The cloud and AI go hand-in-hand. Due to increasing demands from users, vendors are talking about having an IoT solution connected to the cloud, enabling users to generate real-time data across the globe.
Q Is there any blue ocean space in cloud computing in the country?
It may not be blue ocean space exactly, but multi-cloud management is an area that requires more attention at present. Given that multi-cloud setups will be the way forward, vendors need to understand end-to-end management for multi-cloud platforms and look at ways of utilising the infrastructure to its maximum capacity. It is estimated that by 2020, over 90 per cent of global enterprises will adopt multi-cloud platforms.