Since the inception of the modern-day cloud, its dominance rides on enabling strong resource flexibility and cost efficiency, both for the cloud operator and the end user. The Covid-19 pandemic has further augmented cloud adoption manifold as organisations across regions were pushed to re-strategise work policies along with disaster recovery and business continuity plans. It continues to help improve business models, facilitate innovation, and serves as the foundation for industries to unlock the potential of futuristic technologies like artificial intelligence (A.I.), edge computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G.

As digital transformation takes centre-stage, industries are bound to experience an explosion of volume, variety, and velocity of data. Enabling organisations to run in an autonomous fashion and deliver non-discriminative ubiquitous experiences is advancing cloud implementation across domains including BFSI, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and retail. The global healthcare cloud computing market alone is anticipated to reach $90.46 billion by 2027, according to Emergen Research, while public cloud spending in manufacturing in Asia Pacific is forecast to reach $26.3 billion this year, according to IDC.

Over the last year, social distancing pushed educational institutions to go online for learning continuity. The pandemic also dramatically accelerated the social commerce space as consumers switched to online shopping. This not just helped save businesses across the globe, it allowed access to essential supplies for routine and emergencies alike.

The government and industry in India are increasingly realising the benefits of cloud technology and encouraging their IT departments to migrate, at least partially, to this new platform. Mission-critical projects of the Indian government including the vaccination roll-out, smart cities development, economic inclusivity, and modernisation of farming practices, all rest on the cloud. There is also massive digitisation of services in the country’s taxation network. Significant defence analytics is taking place on the cloud as is the modelling of weather patterns, which is the basis of weather forecasting.

Cloud efficiencies in the spotlight

The prolonged pandemic has led 64% of the organisations in India to raise the demand for cloud computing, says IDC's Covid-19 Impact on IT Spending Survey. It further highlights that there is an increase in demand by almost 56% for cloud software to support the new normal. Amongst the primary advantages of the cloud are improved scaleability, greater control, and increased agility. As the demand for IT services changes based on business needs, organisations can scale their workloads accordingly.

Cost is a key driving factor for many organisations adopting hybrid cloud services. On the cloud, you are just renting the infrastructure and paying only for what you use, reducing the cost of managing and maintaining IT systems. The cloud also facilitates the ease and efficiency of collaboration and allows organisations to take advantage of everyone in a team. Business functions that depend on non-computational skills like the sales and operations teams and the leadership teams can also access and analyse data in real time while virtually collaborating on a project. This flexibility has been a boon especially in the global crisis over the last year. It empowers teams to drive workloads and use cases across the environment in a time- and geography-agnostic way without being dependent on an IT expert.

Cloud is addressing today’s business challenges, solving life's problems

Cloud technology has already proven its transformational potential by helping modernise and empower communities around the world. Although India has made significant progress in terms of cloud adoption and utilisation, the technology can still be leveraged further to address issues of national and social importance.

Agriculture, for instance, even though a key contributor to the country’s GDP, has been struggling. The sector largely remains unorganised. This combined with insufficient resources, high risk of natural calamities, and other market uncertainties makes the future concerning. Utilising technological advances with cloud computing for weather forecasting, soil fertility evaluation, precision farming, and fertilisers and pesticide information can boost the agricultural economy. Countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand have been using cloud-powered smart farming and marketplace apps to increase harvests, simplify supply chains, and sell to larger markets. This adoption of cloud in India can similarly help bridge the gap between technology, information, and agriculturists of India.

The pandemic has also put the healthcare segment in the limelight. The need to transition to tele-health consultations and to ensure that data and patient information remain secure is a key focus for healthcare IT professionals. Cloud technology is playing a critical role in tracking affected people and the spread of the virus, sharing important information and announcements, the smooth running of tele-consultation services, growth of health-based mobile apps, and enabling vaccination drives at various locations.

Access to timely data and diagnosis has proven to be helpful in combating issues associated with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. Already deemed the world’s capital of diabetes, India is emerging as the next capital of osteoarthritis by 2025. Cloud advancements can help control this otherwise worsening situation by empowering healthcare infrastructure ranging from early diagnosis and providing remote care to scheduling and digitising complex surgeries.

Furthermore, smart cities development is at the forefront to drive economic growth and improve quality of life in India. This encompasses not just quality healthcare, education, and food supply, but also infrastructure development, traffic management, public resources management, etc. These depend on large amounts of heterogeneous data being optimised with high compute implementation—one of the most sought after benefits of cloud computing. Countries like Singapore and Malaysia have set stimulating examples of addressing urban challenges by leveraging information, data, and digital technologies.

Cloud infrastructure has been the backbone for multiple technological innovations that have helped enhance livelihoods and increased the prosperity of citizens across regions and in core sectors such as agriculture, finance, retail, healthcare, non-profit, and government. The technology can empower India both at the business and individual levels. It can boost successful digital transformation efforts by defining a tech-architectural approach, an investment strategy, and a staffing model that ensures that businesses can achieve balance across dimensions without compromising on performance, reliability, or control. By doing so, it will not only put India at the forefront of innovation but also improve and enrich the lives of every person in the country.

Views are personal. The author is Regional Alliance Head – Asia Pacific & Japan, Intel.

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