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The evolving data centre landscape in India: Navigating talent challenges and growth opportunities

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By Nikita Garg, Partner, Hunt Partners

India’s digital transformation is accelerating, fueled by a billion mobile phones, over 700 million internet subscribers, and exponential growth in digital commerce and entertainment. At the heart of this revolution lies the data centre industry—a critical infrastructure supporting India’s digital destiny. In this essay, we explore the evolving landscape of data centres, the challenges faced, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Over the last three years, India’s Data Center (DC) industry has witnessed tremendous growth, doubling to 722 MW at the end of 2022 from 350 MW in 2019. This surge is driven by global hyperscalers expanding their operations, capital commitments, and policy incentives. India is slated to see increased investment commitments for DC spaces in 2022. Leading global players are entering the Indian market, backed by long-term capital commitments. These hyperscale pre-commitments—350 MW during 2023-25—reflect robust demand growth for data centres.

Global cloud giants are building their own captive data centres, leveraging state incentives. Hyderabad, with its incentives, lower land costs, and power availability, has emerged as a preferred location. Self-build operations affirm the industry’s long-term growth prospects. However, the transition from self-build to operational stability may take time, impacting supply timelines.

Despite rapid growth, talent scarcity remains a challenge. Few senior executives have a proven track record of end-to-end project execution. Frequent talent movements impact leadership stability. The availability of skilled resources constrains construction timelines. As the industry matures, nurturing a robust talent pipeline becomes critical. Organisations must invest in upskilling and attracting talent from diverse backgrounds.

The industry is actively adopting sustainable practices and energy-efficient technologies. As India’s digital footprint expands, energy consumption and environmental impact become critical considerations. Data centres must balance growth with responsible resource utilisation. Innovations in cooling systems, renewable energy adoption, and waste reduction are essential for long-term sustainability.

The draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, is expected to lay down a roadmap for data storage and usage, with implications for the DC industry. Geographic coverage—especially edge connectivity—will be crucial to meet growing demands. Ensuring seamless data flow across regions requires strategic planning and collaboration.

As India’s data centre industry matures, we continue to play a pivotal role. Our unique blend of global insights and local expertise positions us at the forefront of talent development. Together, we shape India’s digital destiny—one data centre at a time.

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