Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cloud Computing in India and Emerging Markets

Cloud Computing in India and Emerging Markets

“The change created by the cloud ecosystem will be manifested 20% in the realm of technology and the remainder through social change.”, Industry Participant, New Delhi Workshop, November 2010

The World Economic Forum held a workshop in New Delhi on 23 November 2010, convening over 30 leading Indian decision-makers, including service providers, users, government representatives and academia. The goals of the workshop were to identify the potential benefits and opportunities of cloud computing in India and other emerging economies; address the unique challenges to its implementation in emerging markets; and explore in which areas emerging markets could take the lead in cloud development.

Market Potential
Small and medium-sized companies with limited resources and access to IT are expected to be the greatest beneficiaries in India from the efficiency gains promised by cloud computing. For these companies, participants expect cloud to facilitate more efficient delivery of services to “bottom of the pyramid” consumers – one of the key future market potentials in emerging economies. Similar efficiency gains could also improve public services in India. Some government representatives argued that cloud service models could, in fact, be the only means of delivering certain essential services (such as microtransaction banking, micro-insurance and healthcare) given the vastness of the country, with large remote and poor populations. Other areas of public service that could benefit from the cloud include disaster management and the agricultural sector.More broadly, providing access to data and computing power to people who would normally be deprived of such resources could unleash significant new innovation.

Specific Challenges in India
The lack of economic returns represents one of the key challenges for the development of the domestic cloud market in India. While many IT companies are engaged in the cloud business, they feel that currently there are insufficient incentives to offer economically sensible cloud models and services to the domestic market, particularly those targeting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Hurdles to the adoption of cloud include the limited availability of digitized data and the need to deal with requirements of 28 different states.

In addition, limited and/or unreliable wired and wireless broadband infrastructure hinders access to, and hence development of, cloud services in India. This calls for greater engagement from the government to provide a fertile environment for domestic cloud markets and to engage in public-private partnerships on cloud development. In terms of regulation, while privacy and personal data protection are not widely established in Indian law, IT companies that export services are keen to have Indian regulation align with European and US data protection frameworks. The development of such a framework in India would assist the industry in competing on an international scale. 

Additional implications for Emerging Markets
Overcoming connectivity challenges is critical. The development of mobile-based access in India and other emerging markets will drive the adoption and growth of cloud computing. Access management is another area in which India is developing promising initiatives. Given the large population base and the huge number of potential cloud users, identification and access management poses unique challenges. India’s Unique Identification Card (UID Card) project, which relies on cloud technologies, could be seen as a model case.

Source: Advancing Cloud Computing: What To Do Now?

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