“The businesses realize the power of data accessibility in mobile formats”
Cloud computing has a lot to do with the data in the age of internet today, as it allows businesses and consumers to store and access data, apps and software over the internet, instead of locally on a hard drive or server. It is a rapidly growing technology that many organizations are adopting to enable their digital transformation. To discuss more about this technology, trends and more, Ramesh Kumar Raja talked to Tarun Dua, Co-Founder and MD, E2E Networks, a leading cloud computing solutions provider in India. Dua also talked about the challenges the cloud platforms are facing today. Excerpts:
Cloud computing has brought a sort of revolution in the area of data storage and access. How significant is this technology for the smartphone and telecom world?
Broad based cloud computing availability has taken the mobile user experience to another level. At the simplest level, there are smartphones being offered with unlimited storage space by extending the local storage to the cloud. Public Cloud Infrastructure enables the mobile app developers to deliver data driven, feature rich applications. In the consumer mobile world, consumption of video content has exploded on the back of location based services. The businesses to realize the power of data accessibility in mobile formats opening up enterprise silos to the on-the-go team members, partners and customers.
Data is very precious for an individual as well as an organization. In such a situation, how can we say our data are in safe hands, especially in wake of Facebook data breach?
Data is compared to oil for the digital economy. Data safety needs to be categorized in multiple ways. Is the storage of data secure? The risks of storing the data on the cloud versus storing them on-premise but connected online are similar. In fact, from a physical security standpoint, the data is more secure. Data security architecture is a very important element that needs to meet the business needs of an organization while complying with the laws and not losing control of the data via techniques like salami-slicing and re-aggregation with other available databases. Many of these security issues are not unique to data storage on the public cloud infrastructure but also affect all online organizations trying to unlock the value of their data without falling foul of regulations.
Since E2E Networks is a leading cloud computing solutions provider, how do you look at India as a market?
The current revolution in 4G and a massive improvement in the quality of wired connectivity coupled with falling costs of connectivity in India have resulted in less fearfulness amongst SMEs of losing access to their applications and data because of downtimes of connectivity. This presents unique opportunities in the cloud computing space. Infrastructure on the Public Cloud with its reliability and broad-based connectivity allows easier interoperability with other API based cloud services which presents businesses with new opportunities to open up new growth paths. There are opportunities to try out innovations in IoT based smart devices, AI driven sub-systems which can be plug and play which can be explored by businesses of all sizes including SMEs. Cloud Computing Infrastructure is a growth oriented market with many opportunities for a wide variety of players including E2E Networks. At E2E Networks, we are very focussed on our mid-segment niche of customers.
What is your current client base and where do you want to seen in the next few years?
We have thousands of active customers with their primary cloud based offerings operating via our cloud infrastructure platform. Our customers are from various domains such as e-commerce, fintech, education/jobs, big data, IoT, automotive, and some of the leading brand names who have utilized our infrastructure and managed services include Zoomcar, Jabong, CarDekho, Clovia, Edupristine, IIMJobs, Zenatix amongst many more.
What are the growth opportunities in this sector?
The major growth areas in the Public Cloud Infrastructure services are driven by the current trends in- digital transformation; video consumption; IoT and smart devices; AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning; and SMEs.
What are the challenges for domestic players as most of the servers are owned by foreign companies and are located outside the country putting our data at risk?
When businesses in India buy public cloud computing in India they are generally cognizant of the fact that the future data localization laws can hit them hard and they prefer to choose Indian locations of even foreign cloud providers. This still presents the risk of foreign governments arm twisting foreign cloud providers whose business headquarters are domiciled outside India to gain access to data belonging to Indian businesses or personally identifiable information of Indian end users. The problem is further aggravated by locked applications forcing Indian customers to share their data with mobile phone manufacturers storing data on servers outside India without consent. During a recent military showdown between India and a hostile foreign power, the risks of apps accessing and sharing location data of soldiers became quite apparent.
The other business risks are in mispricing of storage and incoming to the cloud data utilization charges compared to ability to take out data. The foreign cloud providers have a data colonization strategy which needs to be looked into. These problems are apparent even for servers owned by foreign cloud players but located in India.
What’s your opinion about the Government’s seriousness in regulating this sector, as foreign companies are now being compelled to have local servers in India in order to prevent unbridled migration of the personal data of internet users?
The government and think tanks in India suffer from a serious lack of nuanced understanding of what should be done without causing collateral damage and what shouldn’t be done. The one size fits all approach to regulation can cause smaller cloud operators like us to disappear. Thoughtless and heavy regulation benefits the largest players at the expense of players who are unable to bear the cost of regulation. The government needs to engage with primary stakeholders to first and foremost preserve a level-playing field for all players born today or born 10/20 years back, size of less than a crore rupees in revenue to large planetary scale enterprises. All regulations must follow the principle of not harming the commercial interests of the smallest of businesses first. During the course of running E2E Networks, I have been asked multiple times by multiple small businesses on their brush with clueless, ham-fisted bureaucracy/ law enforcement officials (looking to make a quick buck ) enjoying un-bridled powers whether should simply move their data and servers outside India and even register their companies outside India. Sadly, this question being asked itself is a problem. There is a need of identifying what sort of personally identifiable data, including personally identifiable financial data, should be stored in India versus what data can be aggregated and shared.