In a bid to strengthen its cloud business, India’s second-largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel is banking on public sector banks and government departments with its newly launched sovereign cloud offering. According to the company, the solutions will help public sector companies, especially banks and other government organisations, to fast-track their digital transformation journey and manage their critical data securely over a private cloud.
The concept of a sovereign cloud has emerged at a time when the world is grappling with data privacy and security issues. Through sovereign cloud, the companies can manage critical data in compliance with government laws that require them to store data within the local geography.
“Airtel Sovereign Cloud (which runs on the company’s own data centres) is designed as per the Meity (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) requirements and follows all regulations and compliances as mandated by the government of India,” Ganesh Lakshminarayanan, chief executive officer of Airtel Enterprise Business, Bharti Airtel told FE.
“The offerings are positioned for those customers who need a private cloud localised environment powered by a local player, where they could put their critical applications without worrying about data localisation requirements and security,” Lakshminarayanan said. The solutions are best suited for government agencies and PSU banks, but can be customised for use by companies in any sector which are looking to transform themselves digitally, he added.
Government initiatives such as Jan Dhan, Aadhar-based payments, Digi-dhan yojana are going to be housed on sovereign cloud, Lakshminarayanan said.
Currently, various companies use public cloud solutions to manage their non-critical data applications. However, with increase in data workloads owing to 5G and security requirements there will be an increased demand for sovereign cloud solutions. “The first step in this (sovereign cloud solutions) direction (for Airtel) is the banking cloud, which has already started receiving good interest from companies. Sovereign cloud solutions will service BFSI, government, smart city, defence and national security and PSUs,” Lakshminarayanan said.
When asked about the investment and return on investments from the newly launched solutions, Lakshminarayanan said, “While I cannot reveal the investment figures, it should suffice to mention that cloud is one of the fastest growing business verticals of the company — doubling in growth this year.”
Airtel’s cloud offering are housed under the Airtel Business vertical that contributes about 14% to the telecom operator’s overall revenue. The company sees a nearly Rs 50,000 crore market opportunity with its offerings around communication product as a service (CPaaS), cloud, cybersecurity, and data centers, it had said in its earnings call for the July-September quarter.
With regards to competition from players such as Microsoft and Oracle in the sovereign cloud space, Lakshminarayanan said, “Airtel has a strategic advantage over competition because the law mandates that Indian data is stored within the geographic boundaries of India … Our value to our customers is cloud with the right connectivity with predictable price on both compute and network usage,” he added.
Airtel Cloud business houses Airtel Sovereign cloud, Airtel Vultr cloud, which is its public cloud offering, and Edge cloud offering, which includes Airtel Intelligent CDN (content delivery network) and Airtel edge cloud.