Jatinder Singh Pabla, SVP Sales, Marketing, CEM, STT GDC India

Jatinder Singh Pabla has over 25 years of experience and has led the journey of IT transformation in organizations like STT GDC India, Microsoft, Wipro, HP and Convergys. He leads Sales, Marketing and CEM function for the STT GDC Group for its India business. Before joining STT GDC India, he had a long and immensely satisfactory stint at Microsoft, with over 13+ years preforming various Sales and Marketing leadership roles. Around 7 years ago, Microsoft went through a transformation i.e. Office 365, where Mr. Pabla lead Productivity Sales Team for North region. 4 years ago, he was assigned the responsibility to lead Office 365 Business for India Commercial segment country wide for 3000 top accounts to scale out its penetration.

 

In today’s day and age where digital is steering and powering the economy at large, no one can deny the fact that data is inarguably the new oil. Data consumption in India has witnessed an exponential rise with a consistent expansion in the number of digital users across the country over the last few years. Additionally, there has been an unprecedented rise in Internet and smartphone users and by 2025, the number is set to cross 900 million. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that massive amounts of data is produced in our country every single day! According to the sixth edition of the DOMO report, for each person on this planet, 1.7MB of data is collected each second which equals to over 145 GB data per day per human.

Additionally, due to the onset of the pandemic in 2020, many businesses shifted their operations to a virtual cloud. Enterprises were assessing technology from a completely different lens. It was no longer an option, the sustenance of businesses depended on its adoption. Technology was being used to engage with customers, to create flexible yet well connected virtual workplaces, and to introduce faster processes and automation. Certain sectors such as Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI), energy, government & defence, healthcare, manufacturing, IT & telecom, and retail transitioned completely to online platforms to keep things going.

As a consequence of these things, we are generating and collecting more data than ever before and it will only continue to grow in the future. Hence, there is a greater demand for infrastructure facilities to store and manage this data efficiently without compromising on the safety of the citizens. This is where data centres come into play. Accordingly, India is becoming an agile market for data centres in the APAC region.

Advent of Better Network Capabilities

A major reason for the technological advancements the world has witnessed in the last decade has been due to continuously evolving network capabilities, resulting in better internet connectivity. Better internet means more data generation which in turn had impacted the requirement and quality of data hosting services massively. The demand for data centres and other data hosting services has increased astronomically and with the advent of 5G networks, this demand is expected to further shoot up, impacting the overall digital mesh.

Technology Enabling Data Centres

While businesses are actively partnering with data centres for storing and managing data, data centres are also adopting new technologies to keep pace and provide the best services when catering to the needs of their customers. Many new technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Edge Computing, 5G adoption, are driving the growth of data centres in India.

Data centres are creating a more advanced and expansive infrastructure to accommodate new technologies seamlessly into their processes. To treat large quantities of data, a three level network architecture is created, which has the capacity to accommodate blockchain systems. Blockchain technology, though present for nearly two decades, has become popular recently to create more secure networks. It uses a cryptographic method to protect data against hacking by distributing it across computers. This enables colocation service providers to keep sensitive information safe and therefore provide a more protected network to their customers. The blockchain technology also helps in reducing uptime which makes the processes faster.

Government Policies Driving Data Centres

Data centres and businesses have worked in collaboration to power through the ever growing production of data. The government of India has also played a key role in enabling the change in the way of managing data. The newly framed Data Protection Law mandates storing the collected data within the borders of the country. This, along with favourable geographical location and connectivity with the rest of the world using submarine cables, has given a much necessary fillip to making India a hotspot for the data centre market, besides attracting huge investments into the country from both domestic as well global level players.

The government is leaving no stone unturned to encourage companies to set up shop in India. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has proposed a scheme to provide incentives to data centre players. Under the scheme, the government will create Data Centre Economic Zones (DCEZ) which will have strong infrastructure, connectivity, power, and regulatory environment. As a direct consequence of this development, the government is expecting an influx of INR 3 lakh crores of investment in the industry.

On the back of this, many state governments have also framed their own policies to facilitated the growth of data centres. States like Maharashtra, UP, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka have already set their policy framework in place. These states are providing incentives such as subsidised rates for land and electricity, as well as a waiver on stamp duty for cloud and colocation service players. As a result, Mumbai, Noida, Chennai, and Bengaluru are emerging as key locations that are attracting major investments.

More states are expected to come up with their own customized versions of data centre policy, depending on the availability of land, power, and other resources. Such policies will be provide a massive push for data centre players that are looking for wider expansion.

Sustainability a Prime Agenda

The government of India is pushing for a stringent renewable energy plan. At the recently concluded COP-26 Climate Change Conference, India has laid down a vision of reaching 500 GW of energy consumption from renewable resources by 2030, up from the current 100 GW. This has led to states rethinking their open access policies to drive generation and consumption of renewables.

It is no secret that data centres are power hungry and require uninterrupted supply of power to run smoothly. Till some time back, data centres were dependent on coal and other fossil fuels to meet their energy demands, which contributed to a large amount of pollution. However, that is changing now and ESG has emerged as a frontrunner for the DC industry. A key driver for the data centre market is that the entire ecosystem- from vendors to end consumers- has laid a great emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint.

Many state governments have set their own policies to push for greenfield facilities for data centres. For example, Karnataka government has signed MoU with companies where power will be supplied using green energy in DC facilities. If companies continue to operate in a sustainable manner, in compliance with the policies, we are likely to achieve or even surpass the set targets.

The Future is Modular

Dramatic growth in the demands of data centres has resulted in corporations and colocators scrambling to find quicker and more efficient hosting solutions. Building quality data centres is a long process that would take at least two years for the initial process to complete, even before construction can begin. With the shortage of real estate and power, coupled with a lack of skilled labour, finding newer solutions has become impertinent for service providers.

The future of data centres is modular and flexible. A modular data centre is a portable solution for deploying data processing capacity wherever it is required. These structures are units built and tested in a controlled environment to comply with the requirements of the customers. The portable power solutions are then shipped to site, fully built, tested and ready for immediate installation. This form of structure enables organisations to deliver large amounts of power within a small footprint and a tight timescale. This manner of customisation on a large scale will allow providers to keep up with the increased amounts of data, and support their customers better.

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