Harsh Marwah Country Manager, Verizon Enterprise Solutions India

Indian enterprises are increasingly looking at new technologies for the digital enablement of their services and business operations. With the telecom market shifting away from being purely voice-led to becoming data-oriented, operators are formulating various strategies to leverage this enterprise advantage. The large-scale adoption of virtualisation, cloud services, big data analytics and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications has opened up new avenues of growth in this segment. Moreover, as the government’s Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives start gaining traction, the demand for these enterprise-based offerings is expected to increase further. Industry experts share their views on the growing market for enterprise business services (EBS), the current and emerging trends, key challenges and future outlook…

What are the current and emerging trends in the adoption of services such as cloud computing, virtualisation, big data analytics and the internet of things?

The industry has seen cloud go from being a newcomer to becoming a part of the established order. Verizon has conducted an analysis of cloud usage within our customer base and found that:

  • Cloud is changing how business is conducted (69 per cent of enterprises say cloud has enabled them to re-engineer one or more of their business processes).
  • Cloud improves business operations (88 per cent of enterprises say they moved mission-critical workloads to the cloud because it improves the responsiveness to their business needs and 65 per cent say it improves their overall operations).
  • Cloud supports mission-critical workloads (87 per cent of enterprises use cloud for mission-critical workloads).
  • Adoption of private cloud is on the rise (44 per cent of enterprises are either currently using or plan to implement a private cloud solution).
  • No one cloud fits all and enterprises are embracing a multi-cloud strategy (53 per cent of enterprises use two to four cloud providers, while 26 per cent use more than 10).
  • Cloud use in enterprises continues to grow (84 per cent say their cloud usage has increased in the past year while half of the enterprises say they will use cloud for at least 75 per cent of their workload by 2018).
  • Security is not an implementation im­pediment. In fact, 80 per cent of enterprises say their cloud environment is as secure (40 per cent) or more secure (20 per cent say “a bit more secure,” 20 per cent say “much more secure”) as their on-premises infrastructure.
  • Enterprises believe the network is critical to the success of cloud projects (86 per cent of respondents say the cloud infrastructure is as available/reliable as their on-premises infrastructure).

IoT uptake is being fuelled by a mix of technological, political and social factors, which are driving more organisations to adopt IoT-enabled solutions. For example, the use of social media and mobile technology has transformed consumer and citizen expectations. Also, the declining costs of sensors, connectivity and processing power have made IoT a more viable proposition for a broader set of organisations. The changing regulatory requirements across a number of industries are also making an impact.

Which enterprise verticals are witnessing a significant adoption of these services? What are the key challenges faced by operators while catering to enterprises?

The government, in the past 8-10 years, has built a huge amount of infrastructure in terms of state wide area networks, state data centres, common service centres and the national knowledge network. It has come out with a very ambitious initiative around cloud, known as Meghraj.

The manufacturing sector in India is fast moving onto the cloud in terms of three things, one of which is CRM on the cloud. The entire supply chain for manufacturing is leveraging cloud in a big way. And lastly, there is a huge amount of data that exists within a manufacturing organisation. Business intelligence and analytics is another area that is leveraging the cloud very effectively because the cost of computing and storage is extremely compelling in a cloud scenario.

Companies in other verticals such as retail are using the cloud to leverage a huge amount of mobile assets in order to have end-to-end coverage and grow their business. Cloud is also currently playing a significant role in the health industry.

What changes do you see in the EBS scenario as the government’s Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives gain traction?

According to industry analysts, the market for smart city solutions is projected to grow by more than 20 per cent annually from 2015 to 2020. However, urban areas are still suffering from the effects of traffic congestion, aging infrastructure and inefficient use of resources. Together with cloud computing, and M2M systems, these solutions form integral components of a smart city. Technology is going to be at the heart of smart cities as they facilitate a higher standard of living by connecting various devices. With a budget of Rs 480 billion allocated for the development of “100 smart cities”, India is all set to witness the next phase of digital evolution. This will create new revenue streams for telecom providers, infrastructure vendors and application providers and, at the same time, encourage a tremendous amount of technological innovation, which will be in the interest of all.

What are the key challenges faced by operators while catering to these enterprises?

Many companies lack sufficient experience with cloud projects, especially those involving mission-critical applications and major transformation. Managing risk remains a “go to” topic when discussing the cloud. Some vendors have launched specialised solutions tailored to specific security and compliance needs.

With regard to IoT, one barrier to innovation is that developers of new IoT solutions have to go through multiple channels and cumbersome processes to access the tools they need to create and launch applications. Another impediment to widespread IoT deployment is the cost of connecting to a wide area network compared to other networks like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.