Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Clouds on the horizon:
Cloud computing opportunities in India

“Cloud computing” is one of those catch phrases that seems to have taken the internet by storm. But what exactly does it mean? In a nutshell, cloud computing is the concept of providing resources as a utility over the internet. Instead of storing data in your hard drive, you can store it in an online repository, known as the Cloud. Applications or software that you use can also be accessed and executed directly from the Cloud. Hence, you would be spared of the burden of storing something locally – rather similar to a bank account. 

This is particularly appealing to startups and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), since they can save significant amounts of money and resources in maintaining their data and applications. According to a study undertaken by IBM across 22 countries, businesses plan to invest more in Cloud Computing than in any other area.

The climate in India

Compared to western countries, where Cloud Computing has conjured up a storm, the climate in India is rather chilled. Nevertheless, the Cloud Computing market in the country has touched $400 million and is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2015. 

SMEs constitute the backbone of the Indian economy, and Cloud Computing is an extremely attractive option as it can significantly reduce costs and risks. However, as with all technological advancements in the west, the initial adoption and penetration of the concept in India continues to remain relatively low. Companies already save tons of money by outsourcing and taking advantage of cheap labor costs in India, and there is some hesitation in the air about switching to a new technology. This results in Indian companies that do use the cloud using it only for secondary applications and data, and not for primary purposes or mission-critical applications. SMEs just seem to be experimenting and familiarizing themselves with Cloud Computing at this stage. Compared to developed countries, where the technology has stirred up a storm, the climate in India is relatively mild. 

But there is a silver lining in the cloud. Slowly but surely, Indian companies are realizing its immense potential and the opportunities it brings. A recent survey found that 70% of Indian firms aim to enable virtualization and improve redundancy with cloud-based solutions. 

And as for the consumer, it took Apple to really popularize Cloud Computing – the term as well as the concept – among American consumers with the release of iCloud, even though Amazon had been using it commercially since the turn of the century. Silicon Valley startups such as Dropbox have also emerged to take advantage of the phenomenon of Cloud Computing, a sector previously dominated by RapidShare or Megaupload (that was recently shut down due to copyright violations). It seems inevitable that Indian equivalents will soon spring up. 

Cloud computing is something that the Indian IT sector cannot afford to ignore. It is but a matter of time before it gains a strong foothold in India, a country often referred to as an IT superpower. With high-speed broadband penetration on the rise, not to mention over 121 million internet users, the cloud revolution in India is just over the horizon.