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India has the capability to lead the rest of the world in creating hyper-scale data centers: Rohit Singal, Rahi

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Rohit Singal, VP, Rahi shares his perspective on how data centers in India are evolving, and the key data center trends to watch out for

Some edited excerpts:

How are data centers in India evolving? Do these data centers function on par with the ones found outside India?
In India, demand for data centers continues to be robust, due to multiple factors. Firstly, India has the advantage of a young population that is increasingly adopting digital tools, which has been made possible by the availability of low cost and high-quality Internet. Most Indians today are used to placing orders on their smartphones for fulfilling some of their most basic needs. The Government of India too has taken a number of digital initiatives that have encouraged the creation of a strong digital foundation. From Aadhaar to UPI to CoWIN, all major government initiatives have succeeded in acting as a catalyst for encouraging the growth of more digital services. At the backend, this has created the demand for robust data centers that must be always available to ensure that the digital initiatives succeed as envisioned. To cater to this demand, data centers in India too are evolving quickly to meet the increased needs of a digitally savvy population.

We have listed below some of the major trends in the data center industry that can accelerate the digital transformation efforts or initiatives of enterprises in 2022:

Rapid rise of hyper scale data centers: Given the demands of a digital ecosystem, every IT company needs an IT infrastructure that can scale fast and be easy to provision and deploy. Hyperscale data centers can do just that with their promise of ultra-scalability. With the time to accelerate digital initiatives reducing, hyperscale data centers are expected to be in huge demand. This can also be corroborated by the number of hyperscale datacenter launches in the country.

Riding on Sustainability: Given the increasing cost of power, data center players are naturally encouraged to save energy, as power is a major cost of data center operational expenditure. Every data center player worth its salt, is trying out a host of initiatives to save power and improve energy efficiencies. From consolidating servers to replacing old equipment to considering new technology options to exploring alternative natural sources such as sun and wind, many data center players have taken a number of steps in their quest towards making their data centers more sustainable and greener. This is going beyond energy efficiency to new areas such as Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE). Today, it is common to see many data centers installing air-cooled systems that work in a continuous closed loop to considerably reduce excess water usage.

The usefulness of Small Data: Small data is an approach that requires less data but offers more insights. Research firm Gartner says that 70% of organizations will shift their focus from big to small data by 2025. From an infrastructure perspective, small data can be stored in edge computing devices. This helps in facilitating rapid processing of data for applications which require low latency.

Remote Infrastructure Management: During the pandemic, when normal operations were challenged in a big way, remote infrastructure management practices helped data center owners ensure peak performance and uptime. As most enterprises and data center owners have discovered the benefits of remote infrastructure management, we expect this trend to continue in the next few years, which can accelerate productivity in a big way.

Automation will accelerate: Powered by advances in AI, data center owners will seek to automate every task possible, and try to minimize errors caused due to human actions. From ensuring security to saving energy, AI will play a big role in managing every routine task.

The data center market in India has been growing at a fast pace. According to a recent report by Arizton, the India data center market size was valued at $4.35 billion in 2021 and will reach $10.09 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 15.07% during 2022-2027.

What are the challenges faced by data centers in India? How do you resolve them?
While the market is huge, and holds a lot of potential, there are some key challenges that must be resolved quickly, if India aspires to be one of the top global hubs for data centers. Firstly, from a policy perspective, India can improve on many aspects. For example, there are still many constraints with respect to factors such as taxation and approval processes. Uninterrupted power needs to be available at economical prices, and investors must be encouraged to invest with single-window clearances. In many cities, even today, availability of power is a huge issue, with many cities having only one service provider. Power is a critical non-negotiable component that is required for the smooth functioning of data centers. The internet speed in India is very low and it affects the operation of data centers as well. Availability of quality land parcels is also a huge issue. Data center facilities are huge, and the land on which data centers are proposed to be built, need to be accessible via roads, and must have adequate availability of water and power.

Availability of skillsets is also a huge issue, and the industry today needs skilled manpower in areas such as security, power systems and HVAC. The industry also needs qualified and experienced project managers and technicians. As the industry is growing at a rapid pace, there is a need for policy intervention from the government, which encourages private and government institutions to create the required curriculum that trains people in the required skillsets. All these issues can be resolved by having conducive policies. This includes easy availability of land with the desired power, water supplies and high-quality Internet. A starting step has been taken in this direction with MeiTY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) issuing a draft policy framework for facilitating the growth of data centers in India.

What is the role of hyper-scale data centers in reshaping India’s IT landscape?
Hyper-scale data centers are modular in nature and are built for ensuring high efficiency and scalability. The modularity allows enterprises to take a step-by-step approach for building their data centers. This in turn enables data center owners to progressively adapt to dynamic changes in the landscape. Hyper-scale data centers are also built for high redundancy – a critical ability for data centers. As hyper-scale data centers are modular, data center owners can take a lego-like approach for replacing individual components instead of taking the entire infrastructure down.

Further, in a hyper-scale data center, most processes are automated, which decreases the possibility of downtime due to human errors. Hyper-scale data centers are also highly energy efficient, and are pushing the benchmark for saving energy. The increasing number of hyper-scale data centers setup in the country is having a catalyst effect on the rest of the industry, and every data center player is trying to emulate the best practices of hyper-scalers by benchmarking themselves in terms of standards such as energy efficiency, modularity and scalability. We believe that this will completely reshape India’s data center industry. As the industry is still at a nascent stage, India has the capability to lead the rest of the world in creating hyper-scale data centers, and set global standards.

How to enhance customer experience by managing workload placement?
The most critical part of moving to the cloud is to prioritize which applications or workloads have to move to the cloud. This depends on factors such as performance, security, availability, and compliance. For example, applications which require low latency, can be migrated or hosted on edge data centers, while other applications can be shifted to the cloud.

This can have a huge impact on customer experience, as applications can be accessed faster. This is corroborated in a report by Deloitte Digital, which states that a 100ms improvement in mobile retail website speed can translate into an 8.4% increase in customer conversion. As edge data centers can host servers closer to the end-user, they can have a huge impact on reducing latency, which can improve the speed of access.

How are your data center solutions different from your competitors?
To keep up with the rapid pace of growth, enterprises today need an IT infrastructure that is designed to scale up and be adaptable to business growth. Our immense experience in the data center industry can help enterprises keep pace with technological advances. Our comprehensive suite of Data Center IT solutions and services are designed to provide enterprises with the most advanced technology to support efficient business operations and maximize ROI.

Whether it’s optimizing cooling, reducing power consumption, monitoring and managing your environment, or scaling up or down – we have a customized solution for every enterprise. We take scalability, performance requirements, refactoring objectives, migration expectations, timelines, and more into account when creating a custom plan to take technology and IT infrastructure to the next level. To our customers, we are an extension of their team and are considered a one-stop vendor agnostic solution provider (right from designing to vendor management to post-sales execution).

How are data centers in India evolving? Do these data centers function on par with the ones found outside India?
In India, demand for data centers continues to be robust, due to multiple factors. Firstly, India has the advantage of a young population that is increasingly adopting digital tools, which has been made possible by the availability of low cost and high-quality Internet. Most Indians today are used to placing orders on their smartphones for fulfilling some of their most basic needs. The Government of India too has taken a number of digital initiatives that have encouraged the creation of a strong digital foundation. From Aadhaar to UPI to CoWIN, all major government initiatives have succeeded in acting as a catalyst for encouraging the growth of more digital services. At the backend, this has created the demand for robust data centers that must be always available to ensure that the digital initiatives succeed as envisioned. To cater to this demand, data centers in India too are evolving quickly to meet the increased needs of a digitally savvy population.

We have listed below some of the major trends in the data center industry that can accelerate the digital transformation efforts or initiatives of enterprises in 2022:

Rapid rise of hyper scale data centers: Given the demands of a digital ecosystem, every IT company needs an IT infrastructure that can scale fast and be easy to provision and deploy. Hyperscale data centers can do just that with their promise of ultra-scalability. With the time to accelerate digital initiatives reducing, hyperscale data centers are expected to be in huge demand. This can also be corroborated by the number of hyperscale datacenter launches in the country.

Riding on Sustainability: Given the increasing cost of power, data center players are naturally encouraged to save energy, as power is a major cost of data center operational expenditure. Every data center player worth its salt, is trying out a host of initiatives to save power and improve energy efficiencies. From consolidating servers to replacing old equipment to considering new technology options to exploring alternative natural sources such as sun and wind, many data center players have taken a number of steps in their quest towards making their data centers more sustainable and greener. This is going beyond energy efficiency to new areas such as Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE). Today, it is common to see many data centers installing air-cooled systems that work in a continuous closed loop to considerably reduce excess water usage.

The usefulness of Small Data: Small data is an approach that requires less data but offers more insights. Research firm Gartner says that 70% of organizations will shift their focus from big to small data by 2025. From an infrastructure perspective, small data can be stored in edge computing devices. This helps in facilitating rapid processing of data for applications which require low latency.

Remote Infrastructure Management: During the pandemic, when normal operations were challenged in a big way, remote infrastructure management practices helped data center owners ensure peak performance and uptime. As most enterprises and data center owners have discovered the benefits of remote infrastructure management, we expect this trend to continue in the next few years, which can accelerate productivity in a big way.

Automation will accelerate: Powered by advances in AI, data center owners will seek to automate every task possible, and try to minimize errors caused due to human actions. From ensuring security to saving energy, AI will play a big role in managing every routine task.

The data center market in India has been growing at a fast pace. According to a recent report by Arizton, the India data center market size was valued at $4.35 billion in 2021 and will reach $10.09 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 15.07% during 2022-2027.

What are the challenges faced by data centers in India? How do you resolve them?
While the market is huge, and holds a lot of potential, there are some key challenges that must be resolved quickly, if India aspires to be one of the top global hubs for data centers. Firstly, from a policy perspective, India can improve on many aspects. For example, there are still many constraints with respect to factors such as taxation and approval processes. Uninterrupted power needs to be available at economical prices, and investors must be encouraged to invest with single-window clearances. In many cities, even today, availability of power is a huge issue, with many cities having only one service provider. Power is a critical non-negotiable component that is required for the smooth functioning of data centers. The internet speed in India is very low and it affects the operation of data centers as well. Availability of quality land parcels is also a huge issue. Data center facilities are huge, and the land on which data centers are proposed to be built, need to be accessible via roads, and must have adequate availability of water and power.

Availability of skillsets is also a huge issue, and the industry today needs skilled manpower in areas such as security, power systems and HVAC. The industry also needs qualified and experienced project managers and technicians. As the industry is growing at a rapid pace, there is a need for policy intervention from the government, which encourages private and government institutions to create the required curriculum that trains people in the required skillsets. All these issues can be resolved by having conducive policies. This includes easy availability of land with the desired power, water supplies and high-quality Internet. A starting step has been taken in this direction with MeiTY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) issuing a draft policy framework for facilitating the growth of data centers in India.

What is the role of hyper-scale data centers in reshaping India’s IT landscape?
Hyper-scale data centers are modular in nature and are built for ensuring high efficiency and scalability. The modularity allows enterprises to take a step-by-step approach for building their data centers. This in turn enables data center owners to progressively adapt to dynamic changes in the landscape. Hyper-scale data centers are also built for high redundancy – a critical ability for data centers. As hyper-scale data centers are modular, data center owners can take a lego-like approach for replacing individual components instead of taking the entire infrastructure down. Further, in a hyper-scale data center, most processes are automated, which decreases the possibility of downtime due to human errors. Hyper-scale data centers are also highly energy efficient, and are pushing the benchmark for saving energy. The increasing number of hyper-scale data centers setup in the country is having a catalyst effect on the rest of the industry, and every data center player is trying to emulate the best practices of hyper-scalers by benchmarking themselves in terms of standards such as energy efficiency, modularity and scalability. We believe that this will completely reshape India’s data center industry. As the industry is still at a nascent stage, India has the capability to lead the rest of the world in creating hyper-scale data centers, and set global standards.

How to enhance customer experience by managing workload placement?
The most critical part of moving to the cloud is to prioritize which applications or workloads have to move to the cloud. This depends on factors such as performance, security, availability, and compliance. For example, applications which require low latency, can be migrated or hosted on edge data centers, while other applications can be shifted to the cloud. This can have a huge impact on customer experience, as applications can be accessed faster. This is corroborated in a report by Deloitte Digital, which states that a 100ms improvement in mobile retail website speed can translate into an 8.4% increase in customer conversion. As edge data centers can host servers closer to the end-user, they can have a huge impact on reducing latency, which can improve the speed of access.

How are your data center solutions different from your competitors?
To keep up with the rapid pace of growth, enterprises today need an IT infrastructure that is designed to scale up and be adaptable to business growth. Our immense experience in the data center industry can help enterprises keep pace with technological advances. Our comprehensive suite of Data Center IT solutions and services are designed to provide enterprises with the most advanced technology to support efficient business operations and maximize ROI.

Whether it’s optimizing cooling, reducing power consumption, monitoring and managing your environment, or scaling up or down – we have a customized solution for every enterprise. We take scalability, performance requirements, refactoring objectives, migration expectations, timelines, and more into account when creating a custom plan to take technology and IT infrastructure to the next level. To our customers, we are an extension of their team and are considered a one-stop vendor agnostic solution provider (right from designing to vendor management to post-sales execution).

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