India will witness a big wave of infrastructure creation in the coming years, as digital demand sees a massive surge. The rapid adoption of cloud-based business operations has encouraged businesses to acquire data management capacities to handle huge volumes of data that are being generated.
Increased proliferation of online shopping due to the availability of user-friendly interfaces, high-speed internet, and smart devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. is expected to drive the market in the future. With more than 669 million Internet users presently and forecast to be USD5 trillion economy by 2024, India is estimated to generate massive data at explosive rates in the coming years.
The mass adoption of smartphones, and smart devices by end-users, adoption of cloud computing, big data, AI, by Indian enterprises, increased e-commerce and an increasing number of interconnected devices due to IoT is further supporting this growth. This, coupled with a population which is expected to reach 1.4 billion over the next five years, with only around 100 third-party data centres across the country, the need for the data centres is massive.
All this requires a strong back-end to support this burgeoning growth. The India data centre market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8 per cent from 2021- 2026, according to market watchers.
Fundamentally data centres are at the centre of our lives, as all our digital actions are supported by them. If we see the change in our digital lives from the 2000s to today, personally and professionally, the growth is unparalleled, points out Sunil Gupta, the Co-founder and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure at a show hosted by Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and law firm Ark Legal.
While India has experienced massive growth in terms of digitalisation, the digital infrastructure has not grown at the same pace. The total data centre market in India 5 years ago was approximately 200 megawatts and has practically doubled since then. However, when looking at India’s population our capacity is extremely low.
“Despite the fact that Indian citizens dominate the social media market in terms of usage, this data is currently residing outside of India. If this data were to be brought within India, our need for digital infrastructure would grow exponentially. India needs to increase its capacity by at least 7-15 times its current capacity within the next 10 years to keep up.” Sunil Gupta, the Co-founder and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure.
This need for data centre infrastructure within the boundaries of our country has further increased due to the data localisation provisions of the Data Protection Bill. Different countries have different data localisation norms and India is one of the largest data generators of the world.
Data localisation presents huge opportunities for domestic data centres. Every individual citizen of any country has the right to protect their data, to decide whether this data will be used, accessed, or repurposed by a third party, and the right to withdraw their consent. Trends and intelligence created by anonymised data should ultimately benefit the consumers.
If not controlled by the laws of the land, such data could be a threat to the sovereignty of a nation. According to the proposed data protection bill in India any sensitive personal data cannot be taken out of the country, and in order to do so it would require approval from the government and the DPA. The data belonging to Indian citizens has to reside within the country.
“This would help in protecting the sovereignty of the country and would also create economic value. Data localisation is a boon for data centres, it is a corollary for data protection. This would more than double the capacity required,” pointed out Gupta.
Addressing security issues
Security has been and will be the most important feature of a data centre because of the criticality of the data stored within the infrastructure. Any digital interaction consists of at least three components; the end device such as a mobile or laptop, a network such as Wi-Fi, and the data centre where the content is hosted.
Security issues exist at all of these three points. Most of the existing breaches are happening at the device end of this equation. With increasing digitization the challenges surrounding data security also increase.
In a data centre, security can be viewed from a cybersecurity and physical security aspect. Data centres also fundamentally have two actors, data fiduciaries and data processors. The real control has to be given to data fiduciaries because they are the ones who are running the websites and applications where the data is being ingested.
Their audit and checking mechanisms are critical to data protection. Data processors focus on technology aspects such as using the right firewall, intrusion detection systems, and so on. A business is only as secure as the data centre it uses. In terms of cyber security and physical security, the Indian data centre landscape is just as mature as its western counterparts.