What is Cloud Computing?
In simple language, Cloud Computing is a general term for hosted services which are delivered over the Internet. All one needs is a PC or an Internet enabled device to be able to use these hosted services via Internet. It is different from the traditional use of Software or other IT infrastructure services in that it is available through the internet and the end customer uses it on demand. Its services are charged based on subscription or a tariff based on pay per unit used. The customers typically pay for the usage rate based on per hour or per minute, as the case may be.
There are typically three types of service categories: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).
Here Virtualization should not be confused with Cloud Computing. Virtualization and the Distributed Computing actually form a part of the Cloud Computing phenomenon. In fact significant advancements in virtualization and distributed computing and the broadband internet services, have led to the deployment feasibilities in Cloud Computing. Both virtualization and distributed computing concepts are the precursors for Cloud Computing.
Cloud Computing can be divided into two more categories: Public and Private Clouds. A Public Cloud is where the hosted services are made available to anybody with internet enabled device. Private Cloud is where the hosted services are provided to a limited set of subscribed users. These types of clouds are typically used when there is sensitive data to be protected. A very good example of the end-users of private cloud would be the players of the BFSI segment.
The Cloud Computing Market including SaaS, PaaS and IaaS is estimated at INR 25.6 billion in 2010. This market has a potential to be US $1 billion by 2012. Increasing IT spending among corporate coupled with growing small and medium enterprises will drive the cloud computing market in India, though the biggest drivers for increased interest in Cloud Computing have been the recent weak economies across the globe and the uncertainty that the recent recession has brought in. Cloud Computing has an advantage of flexibility and easy exit. These two features have started attracting the SMEs typically in the wake of the recent recession.
Out of the three categories SaaS has seen better acceptance and is estimated to be US $ 50 million. The key players of SaaS are Google, Zoho and SalesForce.com, among many others.
Limitations and Drivers
While there is a huge potential for Cloud Computing there are certain limitations which may make it a little longer for the Cloud Computing to be accepted at a broader level. Some of the key concerns which are hindering the growth of Cloud Computing are the data security issues and lack of reliability with the players. Other limitations like lack of customization and relatively shallow penetration of broadband services in India are the limitations specific to SaaS model.
On the other side there are some advantages which are driving the adoption of the Cloud Computing models. The key attractions are improvement in the IT infrastructure and cost optimization. Specifically for SaaS model, the attractions are in the ease of use of the software services especially to the start-up diaspora and the SMEs who cannot afford to set up separate IT departments as these are very cost intensive for the smaller players. The pay-per-use concept really comes advantageous to this group.
Market Verticals for Cloud Computing
There are many verticals with different stages of maturity for using the IT infrastructure in organizational integration with their business integration. The verticals which are usually at a mature stage of using IT in overall business operations are more likely to adopt Cloud Computing. These verticals are BFSI, Telecom and Manufacturing. These are more likely to go for Private Clouds of SaaS/PaaS/IaaS models.
The verticals which fall under growth stage and nascent stage of using IT, like healthcare, education and tourism could well qualify as potential sectors for Public Cloud of SaaS/PaaS models.
As I said earlier, out of the three categories SaaS has the potential to gain acceptance fastest as the impending broadband penetration in India could open up vast market for such services as hosted by SaaS players. Add to this the soaring mobile internet users in India. There are about 127 million subscribers of mobile phones capable of accessing Internet in India and this figure is increasing every quarter.
The above facts and figures definitely paint a favorable scenario for faster adoption of SaaS and PaaS as compared to IaaS, but only if the customization capabilities are enhanced by the service providers and there is attempt to build the trust.
|About Mridula: Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi|