In the last few years, there has been a drastic shift in the way data is produced, processed, and consumed in India. Thanks to the push towards digital transformation and the availability of cloud services, the Indian data centre market is poised to grow at a substantial rate.
According to market intelligence firm Arizton, the data centre market in India is expected to reach approximately $4 Bn in revenue by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 9% between 2018 and 2024.
While this is positive news for India’s tech scene and economy, it’s also time to consider the various challenges the industry faces, as data centres are critical for businesses operating in an increasingly interconnected world.
Major Challenges To Be Confronted
Real estate, power, and WAN connectivity are the primary cost factors in a data centre. In India, there are challenges on all three fronts due to skyrocketing real estate values, poor WAN connectivity, and limited energy resources.
However, these issues can be resolved by keeping the following in mind when setting up a data centre:
- While the cost of purchasing and developing land in cities is high, rural areas still have plenty of affordable real estate—and affordable development options—for building data centres. Hence, operators should consider investing in properties outside of urban areas.
- The primary challenge in establishing WAN connectivity is the cost. WAN links in India cost several times more than they cost in the US. This disparity can be attributed to a combination of factors, such as the not-so-conducive regulatory environment, cross subsidization from B2B to B2C, and difficulties in obtaining permission to lay cables. To resolve this issue, data centre providers should work with multiple telecom providers and have diverse paths set up for good WAN link connectivity.
- More often than not, data centre managers tend to over-provision in order to avoid downtime. An efficient data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) solution calculates the needs and requirements of the data centre accurately, which then helps in preventing wasted power and space. Considering its vast potential, solar power (and to an extent, wind power) should be the primary source of energy. Doing so will help reduce the carbon footprint. In addition, recyclable materials should be used in components like servers, switches, and power distribution units (PDUs), as technically superior and more efficient components becomes available every 3-5 years
That said, set up is just one step in reaping value from a data centre. Once it’s up and running, a data centre demands constant monitoring and effective management tools to run efficiently.
Data Centre Infrastructure Management
A robust DCIM platform has the potential to integrate facility management, space management, physical security, power supply management, and HVAC management. Though a DCIM solution might be a cost concern for some, in the long run, it only helps in reducing operational costs. It streamlines data centre operations and enables operators to make well-informed decisions.
Measuring the performance and ensuring the uptime of data centres is a major concern for data centre managers and operators. With applications, connecting cables, cooling systems, power equipment, storage units, and much more running all at once, unexpected failures are inevitable. Hence, constant monitoring and reporting is essential to address those inevitabilities.
Furthermore, a DCIM platform can be used to perform proactive maintenance. In this case, data collected from various components can be mined using conventional and latest AI/ML techniques to gain actionable insights and aid in predictive analytics that let you address issues that would otherwise cause problems in the future.
The Road Ahead
Some of the newer trends in the data centre market will include software-defined WANs, smaller data centres, edge data centres closer to the end user, connectivity between co-located data centres, and private clouds stationed within enterprises to facilitate hybrid cloud computing. These trends will all increase the complexity involved in monitoring and managing data centres. Moreover, in some aspects like software-defined WANs, edge data centres, and hybrid cloud, end users will prefer a self-service model. The tools used by data centre providers will have to enable this.
The Indian government is pushing for data localisation to facilitate efficient data monitoring. From the government’s perspective, data localisation is a step towards greater data security, with reduced vulnerability to threats and attacks compared to situations involving cross-border data transfers.
If implemented, data localisation is expected to lead to a massive increase in the number of data centres in India. Given the challenges listed above, data centre providers in India should first focus on implementing the best practices, then use that experience to see if the country can serve as a global data centre hub.
Disclosure: This article was originally published in Inc42.