How India has a golden opportunity in the future of cloud computing and its impact on the Indian economy
CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with the CEO & Founder, CloudThat- Bhavesh Goswami.
Impact of the Cloud on India
The virtual and hybrid worlds of the pandemic and post-pandemic period have increased the dependence on the cloud and made it a mandate for achieving flexibility, agility, and innovation. Amid this rapid digital transformation, Indian organizations, too, have jumped on the bandwagon to incorporate cloud solutions for business growth.
The NASSCOM-EY survey reveals that 78% of Indian IT companies, 53% of Healthcare and BFSI firms, and 49% of Pharmaceuticals have moved to the cloud post-2019. And the latest IDC reports further build on these stats by revealing that 40% of all Indian organizations will implement dedicated cloud services either in a service provider facility or on-premise by 2024.
Media companies and digital natives are driving cloud adoption in India with financial institutions, manufacturers, retailers, and large enterprises following the trail. Moreover, over 20 Indian start-ups have achieved unicorn status in 2022 and 80% of them find PaaS and IaaS integral to their success, according to Inc 42. These hail from a range of businesses including food delivery, transportation, online grocery shopping, mobile learning, and hotel booking.
Even at CloudThat, it was the cloud that helped us scale and expand our footprints at a time when other organizations were experiencing layoffs and footfalls. The Indian government has also issued several cloud-first initiatives like MyGov Saathi, Curfew ePass, Covid-19 repository, and Aarogya Setu to ensure the timely launch of services for the citizens.
In fact, CoWIN – an end-to-end vaccination platform built on AWS cloud – was one of India’s most successful cloud initiatives. As per CoWIN data, India achieved a milestone by administering 225 lakhs vaccination doses in a single day at a rate of 28,000 doses per minute or 466 doses per second.
India has also set benchmarks in public cloud usage. In 2019, Hotstar – an Indian internet streaming service provider – recorded 25.3 million simultaneous viewers for live streaming of a cricket match and created a global record for viewership of a live program, back then.
According to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analysis, the country is one of the fastest-growing public cloud markets in the APAC region with a projected growth rate of 25% and a growth value of USD 6 billion between 2018 and 2023.
The power of the cloud in the Indian Economy
Despite India being at nascent stages in cloud adoption, cloud computing has proven to be the foundation of technology-led innovation, digital transformation, and business growth at scale in the Indian economy.
With a CAGR of 44%, the Indian cloud market has outpaced the global market in terms of growth rate, according to a NASSCOM report. This growth accrues to four factors – a growing digital population, the digitization of enterprises, the inflow of investments, and favorable government policies. Further, IDC estimates the Indian public cloud market to reach USD 10.8 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 24.1%.
To go by NASSCOM’s report, large-scale cloud adoption has the potential to contribute USD 380 billion to India’s GDP by 2026 and create 14 million employment opportunities with a 3x growth rate. Moreover, an all-round effort can increase the country’s cloud spending by 25-30% over the next 5 years.
And AWS’s investment in the Indian economy is making this growth a plausible reality. The new AWS Hyderabad region itself is estimated to support 48,000+ full-time jobs annually through an investment of 36,300 crores by 2030. Besides, both the Indian government and private enterprises like Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, and Tata Elxsi are innovating on AWS.
These initiatives can open new entrepreneurship opportunities in India and stimulate enterprises to promote R&D, improve commercial products, and contribute to the country’s Global Innovation Index. The cloud also has the potential to fundamentally improve citizen services and have a positive social impact on the Indian economy.
By continuing these efforts, India can position itself as a global hub for cloud talent and cloud services.
Certain barriers to cloud adoption among businesses
India has been at the forefront in setting examples for a digital revolution, be it through the rollout of Aadhar, UPI, or E-governance. And today, as its ushers towards ‘Digital India’, cloud maturity becomes imperative for both the government and enterprises to leapfrog another wave of digital transformation.
However, large-scale adoption of the cloud and cloud-based services requires multi-stake collaboration that can address the common perceptions and barriers of the adoption process. The biggest challenge we are facing is the quality of education. There are many perennial gaps in the curriculum offered by Indian institutions and the skills required in the cloud-job market.
According to a report by IBM, 66% of Indian enterprises reveal that their teams lack the necessary skills for managing cloud adoption. 39% of respondents, on the other hand, report that a lack of technical skills keeps them away from integrating ecosystem partners into the cloud infrastructure. Thus, it is now on education companies like CloudThat and EdTechs to upskill the Indian workforce and accelerate cloud adoption.
The pace of cloud adoption by Indian enterprises is also hindered by security and data governance. The IBM report claims that cybersecurity is the major concern for 50% of business leaders while 49% of the others accrue it to data governance.
Regulatory compliance is another major bottleneck here, especially in highly-regulated markets and industries. Over 57% of entrepreneurs believe ensuring compliance on the cloud is very difficult and 33% of them see regulatory compliance as a key barrier in integrating workloads across public and private IT environments.
And with global players ringing into systems like IoT, robotic automation, and 3D printing, these barriers may result in Indian industries losing out on the cloud edge. To realize the full potential of cloud and scale at a national level, there is a pressing need for stakeholders to take major initiatives across talent building, regulatory support, and cloud adoption.
How may a slow or low adoption of cloud technologies result in Indian industries losing their competitive edge?
Although the cloud has the potential to offer 4x growth and position India as a global hub of cloud services, it can only be achieved by multi-stakeholder collaboration across all sectors. Several countries like Indonesia, Costa Rica, and Eastern Europe want to get a piece of the world’s IT market.
Moreover, Chinese enterprises are investing heavily in improving IT employees’ English proficiency. It expects to double its public cloud market from USD 32 billion in 2021 to USD 90 billion by 2025, according to a McKinsey report. These initiatives are a threat to India and may slice a share of its growth in the future.
According to a NASSCOM report, if the Indian government and businesses are late to adopt the cloud, we may potentially lose USD 118 billion in GDP and 5 million job opportunities in the next five years. Unaccelerated cloud adoption can push Indian industries to the risk of becoming irrelevant and falling behind in growth, innovation, and competitiveness.
For instance, if financial institutions are slow to modernize their infrastructures, they can’t keep pace with their innovative and agile competitors like Fintech. SMBs, on the other hand, may not be able to grow at an unconstrained phase and compete with their established counterparts in the absence of cloud-driven flexibility.
To consider the government, without the accessibility and scalability of the cloud, would be unable to provide world-class citizen services. As such, it may fall behind in becoming a role model nation. All in all, slow adoption of the cloud may result in the Indian economy losing out on its attractiveness among ex-pats, investors, and entrepreneurs.
Few examples of Cloud computing as proven to be the foundation for digital transformation
As of today, the cloud stores over 60% of all corporate data. And with a multi-fold increase in cloud adoption, SaaS has reached USD 172 billion, IaaS has touched USD 122 billion, and PaaS USD 101 billion, according to Statista reports. Though some enterprises are still struggling to find a clearly defined path to achieve cloud-based transformation, the Indian government has already reaped its benefits.
During the pandemic, the Indian government partnered with AWS to build a scalable, inclusive, and open-sharing vaccination model – CoWIN. And by May 2022, CoWIN had administered 190 crore vaccinations to the Indian population. The country also set a milestone by administering 225 lakh vaccination doses in a single day.
Another example of cloud innovation in India is C-DAC’s work with AWS on eSanjeevaniOPD. When the country went into lockdown and outpatient departments at clinics and hospitals were closed, C-DAC launched eSanjeevaniOPD teleconsultation service. The platform was built and launched within 19 days and was rolled out in four states. eSanjeevaniOPD delivered 3 crore teleconsultations in India and even set a record of completing 1.7 lakh telecons in a single day.
Then again, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) hosted its Smart Cities Mission (SCM) on the AWS cloud. The total time taken from idea to execution was five weeks and the platform increased the available data sets from 500 to 500,000. The ministry claims it has developed a total of 5,151 projects with an investment of Rs. 2,05,018 crores within six years of its inception.
These examples make it evident that the cloud is not just a means of reducing costs but a catalyst for achieving digital and societal transformation.
Why in the world of Web 3.0 an employee with top IT certifications are an asset for companies?
Web 3.0 is the next phase of digital disruptions and it’s almost here. According to FICCI-EY’s 2022 report, it has the potential to add USD 1.1 trillion to India’s GDP by 2032.
However, the wide movement of evolving technologies like web 3.0 has caused a talent drought within the cloud market. According to NASSCOM report projections for 2025, cloud talent shows a demand of 22 lakh professionals versus an installed talent of just 15 lakhs. This gap widens particularly for senior-level cloud jobs.
As such, candidates with relevant certifications like AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, AWS Certified Security Specialist, AWS Certified Solution Architect, and AWS Certified Data Analytics become a requisite for organizations. A skilled workforce is vital to building, maintaining, and augmenting virtualized platforms. A certified in-house team also ensures that all operations run smoothly, there are no downtimes, and potential lapses in data security measures are taken care of.
A talent drought on the other hand results in extended timelines and delayed projects. It also exacerbates issues like data processing and compliance and hinders an organization from keeping up with its competitors. Hence, businesses are on the lookout for professionals with a thorough knowledge of Blockchain, smart contracts, dApps, cryptography, web development, cybersecurity, AR/VR frameworks, etc.
Another thing to note here is that project timelines do not always get compromised by skills shortages but by skills gaps as well.
Hence, organizations are also offering programs that specifically address these skills. Many vendors like AWS, IBM, and Google offer cloud training. In fact, the Indian Ministry of Education has partnered with AWS to offer a free online course in cloud computing and ML to students studying in AICTE-affiliated colleges.