Airtel, Jio in race to provide cloud services to govt

Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are set for another bout after the fight in the telecom space. This time, the telcos are pitching against each other to grab a larger pie of the country’s cloud services market and are in the running to become government-empanelled cloud service provider.


However, it’s not going to be easy. Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, BSNL and HP, among others, are also in the fray. The government would give empanelment to 15 firms for providing cloud services to Central, state, and local governments, and public sector bodies in India.


Of the 15, the ministry of electronics and information technology has cleared seven — Amazon Web Services, BSNL, CtrlS Data Centers, ESDS Software Solutions, Net Magic IT Services, Sify Technologies and Web Werks India.   


The government is among the biggest spenders on information technology in India. In November, Gartner had said the government would increase IT spending by 8.9 per cent to $8.5 billion in 2018.


Jio and Airtel have already build infrastructure to provide cloud services. The Mukesh Ambani-owned firm has committed to build one million square feet of data centre capacity, of which half-a-million-square-feet facility is already up and running on its Navi Mumbai campus. The remaining capacity would be created by building three-four more data centres across the country.


Sunil Bharti Mittal-led Airtel would be providing cloud services through its fully-owned subsidiary, Nxtra Data. Nxtra Data owns and operates eight large modern data centres, strategically located across the country. It offers an integrated portfolio of co-location, cloud services and managed services to large Indian and global enterprises, government, and small and medium firms. Nxtra Data operates its own Infrastructure as a Service cloud that is targeted towards large enterprises, and small and medium businesses. It offers public, private as well as hybrid cloud services to customers.


According to Airtel, Nxtra Data can provide cloud solutions for a variety of projects and initiatives from smart cities to e-governance. “The public sector is expected to be a major driver of digitisation in India, and cloud-enabled solutions will be critical to drive ease of doing business, better health care and education and secure financial services,” Airtel said. 


India has embarked on MeghRaj, a national initiative aimed at hosting government apps on the cloud and offering it as a service to various departments. It is aimed at building a standard system that would utilise computing resources and improve in service delivery to citizens. Several government initiatives, such as the National E-Governance Division and National Prisons Information portal, are already hosted on the cloud by various service providers.


The ministry of electronics and information technology approved the audit criteria for cloud service providers in 2017 and had since been accepting submissions from firms.


The cloud market in India could reach up to $2 billion in worth, with a compound annual growth rate of around 30 per cent, according to experts.

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