Cloud vendors with great ambitions race to strengthen their foothold in the Indian SMB segment while tackling challenges along the way
By Srinath Srinivasan
Cloud platforms form the bedrock of every digital solution that a business uses today. Around five major providers dominate the market worldwide. Some of them have placed huge bets on the Indian market. As with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the idea is to enable 10 million Indian small and medium businesses (SMB) to go digital and get to the cloud by 2025. The industry leader’s billion-dollar investment in India is also aimed at the same target. “SMBs of today will become larger businesses in the future. AWS is investing in India for the long term. For example, in November 2020, we expanded our services and a massive investment of infrastructure in India with AWS Asia Pacific (Hyderabad) region, which will launch in mid-2022,” says Puneet Chandok, president, Commercial Business, AWS India and South Asia, Amazon Internet Services.
Among the large players, Oracle too has been aggressive about the SMB segment in India. “Our overall customer base is 15,000 in India and a majority of these are SMB customers. Globally, we have over 400,000 customers, with over 300,000 of these being small and medium-sized businesses,” says Srikanth Doranadula, vice-president, Hybrid Cloud Systems, Oracle India.
As per IDC, the Indian public cloud services market, including infrastructure-as-a-service , platform-as-a-service solutions and software-as-a-service, revenue totalled $3.6 billion for 2020 and overall Indian public cloud services market is expected to reach $9.5 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 21.5% for 2020-25. “SMBs formed close to 29% of the overall public cloud services market in 2020,” says Rishu Sharma, associate research director for cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) practice at IDC in India.
Given the scale of the market, the large players have flooded their cloud platforms with solutions, high levels of automation and features. For instance, AWS has been bundling enterprise digital solutions on its platform. “The intent is to make it simple, bundle it, provide some support, and bring the price point down so that SMBs can really start an experiment and use these technologies,” says Chandok. “In June, we launched SMB Gurukul, an initiative where we combine the partners, the SMBs, and the startups to avail opportunities within these segments,” he adds.
For startups that are hosted on AWS, Amazon provided more than $1 billion in AWS credits during 2020 to help early-stage startups launch their businesses and accelerate their growth. “Recently we released the Activate Console, which is designed to support founders through every stage of their startup’s journey, from the initial idea, to building the MVP, to securing the first customer, to scaling the business on AWS and beyond,” says Chandok.
According to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, it is the only platform that offers autonomous capabilities and a security first architecture. “With new data innovations on the platform, Indian businesses can significantly improve their online transaction speed, analytics and performance, while reducing costs by at least 40% on average,” says Doranadula.
On the other end of spectrum is Linode, a platform that categories itself under alternate cloud vendors with a totally different approach. “Unlike large players we do not have default proprietary apps or services or high levels of automation. We are giving the choice to the businesses to choose whatever services or apps they want from the market,” says Blair Lyon, vice-president, Cloud Experience, Linode. The platform has recently opened a data centre and innovation centre in Mumbai to cater to the surge in demand that occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.