Industry: Boom time for cloud services as work comes home

New Delhi: The public cloud industry is set to get a boost as companies across sectors are forced to depend on remote working amid the restrictions triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and require more cloud computing power, said industry executives and experts.

In the past three years, the industry grew at a compound annual growth rate of 24%, a figure that is likely to be surpassed this year, according to consulting firm Deloitte India.

“Due to the lockdown situation, there has been a lot of latent demand for cloud services coming in, which can be executed efficiently by data centres as they offer economies of scale,” said Rahul Ambegaoker, region head-west at NTT India, a tech services company.

Demand for such services is increasing among both enterprise and consumer customers, largely driven by increasing dependency on collaborative tools for group videoconferencing, virtual schooling, entertainment and gaming, said experts.

Jared Spataro, corporate vice president, Microsoft 365, said in a blog post last month that the company has seen a massive 775% increase in use of its cloud services. Microsoft Teams now has more than 44 million daily users, and they generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes. Zoom Cloud Meetings has become the most downloaded app on android and iOS stores. The likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar, which are streaming content stored on a cloud, have also gained major traction, according to third-party surveys.

Research firm Gartner expects about 15% of Indian companies to increase their share of permanent work from home employees. It has flagged growth challenges this year, though, mainly because of certain consumer companies which may go out of business.

Meanwhile, the high demand has led to a new set of challenges for cloud service providers around latency requirements and data security.

“Cloud services have managed the workloads well as of now,” said Anoop Nambiar, partner, Deloitte India. “However, challenges to connectivity to certain rural areas remain where there are constraints related to network bandwidths.”

NTT’s Ambegaoker said the real challenge, especially in a public cloud, is seen at the last-mile, that is, mobile phones or laptops, where throughputs have fallen.

Data security and privacy are major concerns, he said, as phishing attacks have gone up since users are accessing networks on their personal devices outside of their organisational setups where they had secure firewalls.

“Though enterprise grade hyper-scalers are safe, a lot of consumer services may not have similar level of security protocols which could open up a window for cyberattacks,” said Naveen Mishra, senior director at Gartner.

To overcome such challenges, cloud providers are offering virtual desktop and VPN solutions which have same data and cybersecurity capabilities as they did in an on-premises setting.

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