Two of the country’s top telecom operators – Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio – are venturing out of their core domain into the multi-billion-dollar cloud computing services market as part of the strategy to explore options to diversify revenue streams. The two companies are in the process of getting empanelled with the government as cloud services providers (CSPs). This is part of the government’s cloud computing services initiative – GI Cloud or MeghRaj – through which it wants to create a comprehensive cloud services environment available to central, state and local governments. It is to accelerate delivery of e-services and optimise the government’s ICT spending.
“Bharti and Jio are among the vendors who are vying to be empanelled as CSPs. Their applications are undergoing the standardisation, testing and quality certification (STQC) audit by the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY). It should be over in about a month,” a senior government official said. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has already been empanelled, while Microsoft and IBM will be added by this week. Currently, there are six CSPs empanelled with the government, he added. The cloud services market in India is an evolving space and analysts expect it to grow exponentially in the next few years, especially with the government’s push on Digital India. Market research firm Gartner is predicting it to expand by 33% to $2.4 billion next year and expects this to further grow to more than $4 billion by 2020.
Analysts said both Bharti and Jio are now actively working on strategies to expand in the enterprises space, including providing cloud services as they eye additional revenue streams. Although, the big players here are AWS and Microsoft, but Bharti and Jio can partner with other IT services companies to offer customised solutions to enterprises. Bharti’s cloud services is part of its office solutions suite, which offers a host of services including storage and CRM packages. It is part of the company’s B2B offering — Airtel Business. It also provides 2GB of free cloud backup to subscribers. Through its subsidiary, Nxtra Data, Bharti has eight data centres totalling around 1.64 lakh sq ft of space. Bharti has already partnered with the government on some large-scale projects such as GSTN and also state-wide area networks in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
On the other hand, Reliance Industries’ (RIL) telecom arm has JioCloud. At present, Jio subscribers get free cloud storage of 5GB. It is now eying opportunities in the enterprises space. Jio has 7 data centres covering more than half a million sq ft, which it will expand to a million sq ft. Recently, RIL has partnered with GE to work on the industrial internet of things space. Under this, RIL is developing solutions on Predix and offer nationwide connectivity through Jio, while GE will provide its Predix cloud offering, industrial internet applications, data science expertise, etc to offer solutions in sectors such as oil and gas, fertiliser, power, healthcare and telecom. RIL is also working on a partner ecosystem to implement smart manufacturing solutions. This includes support of infrastructure available through Jio’s network and JioCloud.