Indian IT firms are likely to extend their services’ focus to the fast-evolving cloud economy as well, said panelists at the Cloud Computing track of the Bangalore IT.biz 2010 on Saturday.
Vice President at NIIT Technologies Vijay Ghei said as the different pieces of the cloud computing puzzle such as infrastructure, hardware, software and applications were coming together, Indian firms were best suited to target those services that were part of the cloud.
Given the availability of talent in the country, Indian firms could play an important role as value aggregators and extenders of the cloud computing stack, he said. Building value added services (VAS) or providing end-stage customisation of applications was an opportunity uniquely open to the Indian firms, Ghei said.
To the existing cloud terminology such as ‘network cloud’, ‘computing cloud’, and ‘platform cloud’, Indian firms would add ‘services cloud’ and ‘relationship cloud’, he said. Given that Indian firms have been traditionally shy of investing in assets and infrastructure, the strategy laid out by Ghei seems to be logical. By focusing on services, they would also be playing to their natural strength. Many of them have already begun to strike partnerships with infrastructure providers to build a services layer. NIIT has tied up to provide VAS on Hitachi cloud, Ghei said.
He also cautioned that cloud services were a greenfield area and there was a huge amount of learning to be done by the service providers. “Every day we are falling and picking up ourselves and it is too early to say what will succeed on the cloud,” he said.
Drawing attention to a few challenges before the service providers who will face the music from the end-users on the cloud, he said, achieving flawless integration with all players of the stack and sharing liability was difficult to accomplish.
Indian firms would have to move away from piece-meal pricing and offer standard rate cards. They will also have to address the human factor effectively in ensuring security, he said. Most customers in India remained just curious about cloud and even service providers were not sure what benefits would finally emerge out of the cloud, he added.
Agreeing with Ghei, Vice President, Outsoucing and Offshore services, IDC, David Tapper said companies should do what their genetic code dictated on the cloud. Cloud-based outsourcing was underway to replace traditional outsourcing, he said. Business Process as Service would replace BPO, Software as Service would replace application development and Platform as Service would replace network outsourcing, he said.
Cloud would cannibalise traditional outsourcing and public cloud would grow five times faster than the traditional IT products over the next few years, Tapper said. Quoting an IDC survey of 300 large and mid-size companies, he said, cloud penetration in India would increase from 4.09 per cent in 2009 to 6.8 per cent in 2012. When customers migrate to the cloud they would start with data centres and progressively move on to networking, applications business process and desktop layers.