We tend to forget that cloud computing technology didn’t always exist. It wasn’t too long ago that we had to carry USB drives with stored information wherever we went. In just a span of ten years, we have gone from carrying hardware with us to storing, accessing and even editing information on the cloud. And it’s not just tech-savvy individuals that have been privy to this paradigm shift.

The cloud has had a major impact on both our personal lives and the business world. It has completely changed the way we perceive and share information. For example, in 2012, massive open online courses (MOOCs) witnessed an unprecedented boom, all because of the cloud. It was the very first time that organised education had truly begun to scale.

Since then, cloud computing has become a paramount digital resource with plenty of room to grow. The industry is evolving faster than ever with the cloud enabling unique opportunities for businesses as they scale by introducing several services integrated with AI, data analytics, automation, and edge computing. This makes cloud services a necessity for enterprises that seek an agile solution to fast-track their operational growth and efficiency -- benefits that make cloud computing a leading technology worldwide projected to reach $345 billion by 2022, with a CAGR of 16.5%.

The wave of cloud adoption can be widely seen within enterprises in India, where businesses are rapidly migrating to adopt cloud resources. The prime factor enabling this transformation is also the ongoing digital revolution and improvement in the connectivity infrastructure within the country.

Potential of India’s cloud ecosystem

As compared to its global counterparts, India’s current technology landscape has been constantly evolving and is highly favourable for adopting cloud service models. The country’s public as well as private sector enterprises are transitioning towards digital, backed by a rapidly expanding connectivity infrastructure to support this transformation. Being a developing economy, India has a large set of unsolved issues in both B2B and B2C sectors and the country’s competence in IT services, banking, finance and security, makes Software as a Service (SaaS) a viable prospect for managing enterprise operations.

Moreover, a major percentage of the country’s population is young, predicted to comprise up to 77% millennials and Gen Z’s by 2028. This generation is more attuned to adopting new technology usage models, such as the ‘as-a-service’ offering, when compared to their predecessors. These are some of the crucial contributing factors that will continue to redefine India’s technology industry in terms of service delivery.

At present, many players based out of India such as Zoho, Freshworks, and Manthan have emerged in this narrative, providing cloud services not only to Indian customers, but also to businesses across the world by integrating their offerings with other new-age technologies, such as AI, IoT and automation. ‘As-a-service’ delivery models have and are becoming an integral part of business operations for every industry vertical one can potentially think of. For instance, gaming as a service, SME applications as a service, and even endpoint devices as a service are some of the cloud-based service models already available in the market. Cloud technology has provided unprecedented scale to e-commerce platforms, enabled the fastest ramp of digital payments in India, and continues to revamp consumer access to entertainment, education, healthcare, banking, etc.

The increased spends on cloud are due to rising awareness about its benefits, consumerisation of IT, a thriving start-up environment, enhanced supply chain ecosystem, diverse talent pool, and key digital-led government initiatives.

Challenges that need to be addressed

Although the significance of cloud technology in India is expected to continue to increase at a tremendous rate, there are challenges along the path of realising the full potential of cloud.

Cyber security is one such concern for companies choosing to adopt cloud computing services. Cloud makes data accessible over a network, therefore, a strong security architecture is a critical need before enterprises even consider migrating towards it. Also, for rural markets in India, especially, in the tier-II and tier-III cities, lack of internet infrastructure is a serious bottleneck. In order to carry out data-intensive operations over cloud, it is imperative for government institutions to ensure a robust last-mile connectivity infrastructure to avoid performance issues in these regions while using cloud solutions.

Efforts need to be made to educate industries across the country about cloud technology along with associated regulatory compliance and privacy laws. It is also necessary to cultivate advanced skill development in the country required for the cloud computing market. India’s data policies focusing on data localisation and development of large-scale data centers across the country are vital in order to effectively execute the concept.

The future of cloud adoption in India

India’s cloud market is booming and is estimated to reach $7.1 billion by 2022, according to NASSCOM. More than a million cloud computing job roles are expected to be created by 2022.

Evolving infrastructure, a flourishing start-up ecosystem, an enriched talent pool, and integration of emerging technologies are expected to enable continued growth for the the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) markets. With connectivity still a last mile challenge for India, the combination of a high-performance edge and a robust cloud delivery model will allow scale, enable smarter management of resources, and shape decision-making.

The next decade in India will also witness the advent of 5G along with the massive boom in data aggregation, further re-enforcing the adoption of cloud-based services and making India one of the most lucrative markets for cloud service providers.

The author is VP & MD, SMG, Intel India.

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