India lays the foundation for digital infra boom

India lays the foundation for digital infra boom

DII - Keynote Harnessing the Confluence of Digital Infrastructure.jpg

The first ever Digital Infra India conference saw its keynote panel tackle some of the most pressing topics in the Indian infrastructure market.

Held virtually between 9-10 of this month, the keynote panel moderated by Abhishek Das, director of technology and risk consulting, EY, his panellists included Sunil Gupta, co-founder & CEO of Yotta Infrastructure, Dhaval Pandya, CIO and CDO of JSW Paints Pvt Ltd, Bill Barney, chief executive officer of Turbidite, and Praveen Agarwal, VP & head of Business at Airtel.

Starting with the impact of Covid-19, Agarwal said, “this pandemic has definitely changed the way we all were working” adding that for telecoms operators like them, it was “a real challenge”.

“Suddenly everything was dependent on the telecoms. Telecoms became crucial services during this pandemic with everyone depending on it.”

This posed two key challenges for the company, the first was how to keep running the network when people’s movement was so limited.

“In this type of scenario people are not allowed to move from one location to another and they are not allowed to go outside,” explained Agarwal. "So, we had to ensure that we had sufficient supply of everything to keep running the network.”

The second issue related rapid and, in some cases, sudden increases in consumption. “You're facing challenges about to how to ramp up the capacity to ensure that people keep getting what they need, the consumer is getting the required network or required throughput they are looking for,” he adds.

Turning to Gupta on his views on how the data centre space has shifted over time to become centred on agility, managed services and plug and play, ultimately he says this is due to changing “market drivers and technology drivers”. Everything from the proliferation of colocation services and enterprise need for VR/AR in its product offerings, to the advent of the cloud has played its part.

This now means that “data centres are becoming extremely big,” says Gupta. “What to be 4MW, 5MW data centres are now they are becoming 25MW or 30MW data centres on average in India.”

Second, he says we no longer make data centre buildings, it’s all about the data centre parks.

“Simply because once a hyperscaler or a large enterprise is with you and they will want to grow with you over lifetime,” says Gupta. “So, you cannot say after three years, If they want to expand, you don't have capacity. You need to make parks, which practically give you unlimited capacity to grow at the same site.”

With the development of these data centre parks become more and more prevalent, Gupta also acknowledges that power and cooling need to be addressed at the same time because as he puts it “data centres are power guzzlers”.

Chiming in with his thoughts on the data centre market, Barney pointed out that though there are a number of opportunities on the horizon, Asia with the exception of Singapore and Hong Kong is still behind in its data centre development.

“In India and most of Southeast Asia, you're essentially 70 to 80%, behind the United States and Western Europe. So, you've got a long way to come into the data centre space,” he said.

“There will be a lot of edge data centres coming into Asia, I think in the next two to three years, as we start to see these applications moving in.”

Interestingly, Barney says to support this impending wave of infrastructure investment, there will have to be some regulatory changes across the continent in order to support this.

“There's going to be a lot of regulatory changes that may have to take place,” added Barney.

He continued: “What happens with digital ownership of people's data, does that change in the next couple of years? Does every country have to have their own hyperscalers to house that data? Or is it going to be stored in somewhere like Finland, and everyone brings it through edge data centres? Overall, there's going to be a lot of dynamics in this industry, whether it be government, capital markets, executive order or just consumers.”

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