| Webwerks

Data centre providers get viral boost as more people work from home

Apr 07, 2020
Data centre providers get viral boost as more people work from home
Publication: Business Standard

Data centres have been in the limelight over the past two years, since the intensifying of conversation around locally storing data of Indian users

Data centre providers in the country are seeing increased demand in the ongoing lockdown as more and more people work from home. And, say they are prepared to handle the load comfortably for the near future.

The verticals that are seeing higher demand are media, e-commerce, over-the-top services and banking. Data centres are one of the most important among the back-end systems required to keep online services running smoothly in this lockdown.

Having been classified as an essential service, these providers are working with limited staff from their centres. "We have arranged for passes for our staff to be able to travel, for private transportation, with sanitisers in the data centres and disinfection of the area every hour. We've also made bunk beds available for staff to rest, with food," said Sharad Sanghi, chief executive officer (CEO), Global Data Centers and Cloud Infrastructure (India) at NTT Ltd. Less than a tenth of its workforce comes to the centres; the others work from home.

Similarly, Web Werks is operating with only 10-14 per cent of its staff at its premises, on a rotational basis; others work from home. "We have medical rooms and we've taken a hotel next door to our data centres, booked for our employees," said Nikhil Rathi, CEO.

Yotta Infrastructure, data centre arm of The Hiranandani Group, says it was better prepared for the conditions imposed by lockdown, since it had decided at the outset to heavily automate the processes.

"Every employee has a laptop and we all log-in to the system by 9 am. The day then goes on as usual, with team meetings and planning as earlier," said Sunil Gupta, CEO.

Data centres have been in the limelight over the past two years, since the intensifying of conversation around locally storing data of Indian users. With more people working from home, the need to store data in the cloud has also increased exponentially.

Most data centres say they are prepared. Over the next two years, say sector experts, $7.1 billion (Rs 50,000 crore) would be spent in India on cloud infrastructure. The 21-day lockdown has only intensified that shift for a lot of small businesses as well.

"Bandwidth demand has risen five times. The kind of demand you saw in a week, earlier, you're seeing in a day," said Web Werks' Rathi.

While most businesses have made the shift to cloud, the ones which worked primarily with on-premises data have had to rethink strategy, Rathi added. For example, stockbrokers now realise that being on the cloud could help run their business more efficiently at this time. He added their company was well covered and has underutilised capacity.

Most of these players are similarly well covered to take care of the extra capacity for the next few months. "We have over-provisioned on infrastructure...and should be in a good position. We can provision more capacity remotely. We would need to add physical servers at some point but for the next three months, we're good," said Sanghi.

"The impact due to coronavirus is yet to be seen...it will further improve digitisation and use of technology and, ultimately, data centres. The economy is going to take a big beating and cutting costs will be important once CIOs 9chief investment officers) go back to work. Since discretionary spending on infrastructure will not be priority, moving to the cloud will be preferred," said Yotta's Gupta.