Bangalore: With less than nine million people having access to broadband connection at the end of March, the prospects of cloud computing in India, touted as a panacea for bridging the digital divide, remains a pipe dream.
The numbers fall short by more than a half of the target of 20 million people on broadband by December, which was set by the government. The government still has projected an ambitious number of 250 million by 2012, although industry lobby group Mait (Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology) has the more conservative estimate of 100 million broadband subscribers by 2012.
Late blooming: A screen shot of IBM’s LotusLive tool that allows users to network and share files on the public cloud over Net access. The firm says it’s just a matter of time before the mass adoption of the technology.
“Public cloud computing can be easy in places like Korea where you have good connectivity than in a country like India,” said an official of the government’s IT department, who did not want to be named. “The challenge here is bringing down costs, while improving speed.”
Public cloud is a metaphor for buying computing resources on a pay-as-you-use model from a service provider on the Internet as against private cloud, where an organization consolidates its software and hardware resources in a data centre and allows users to access it behind a firewall.
India is already an expensive place for hosting public cloud data centres due to the high cost of real estate and power, said an analyst. For instance, the cost of running a data centre in the US is one-10th of that in India due to lower real estate and power costs and there are issues on privacy for public data hosted outside the country.
“It is more of curiosity. There is not a single success story in India for cloud computing,” said Nitin Khanapurkar, executive director at audit and consultancy firm KPMG Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd. “Everyone is gazing at (the) clouds, hoping will it rain in our own territory.”
Another analyst said slower broadband penetration could hamper adoption of public cloud in India. “It could be a choker,” said Michael Barnes, vice-president at Springboard Research.
Springboard Research estimates nearly 90% of the cloud-based services in India is to rent software or software as a service. It is expected to grow threefold in three years to $352 million (around Rs1,605 crore) by 2012.
India is among the markets suited for cloud computing, as small and medium firms here are likely to look at saving costs by renting computing resources instead of buying and owning them. But for now, only the concept of private cloud is slowly catching up in the country, said Barnes.
Despite these issues, industry officials say adoption of public cloud in the country is just a matter of time and concerns such as security are being addressed by adopting international standards.
“Few years ago, there was lot of ambiguity on security. Now you get it audited. The risk is the same on premise and on cloud,” said Balaji Kesavaraj, head of marketing in India for Cisco Webex, a unit of Cisco Systems Inc.
IBM, which has its LotusLive tool that allows users to network and share files on the public cloud over an Internet access, says it is just a matter of time for mass adoption. “Maybe we are a bit slow, but there is nothing in the public cloud environment specific to India that is hindering (the growth),” said Vamsi C. Mudium, leader of the cloud lab at IBM’s India office.
Microsoft Corp., which launched its Office 2010 software on the cloud, says even outside the large metros, infrastructure is not an issue. “Bulk of the adoption is in metros and ‘A’ class cities, where infrastructure is there. It is catching up to broader parts of the country,” said Vikas Arora, group director for cloud services at Microsoft.