June 1, 2023: The government has for some months now, made a gentle, but determined push to international service providers to locate their data repositories on Indian soil.
One result is that Cloud Computing -- the on-demand delivery of Information Technology services via the Internet -- has now become a front-and-centre national priority.
The national Digital India vision is consequently driving rapid expansion of Cloud & data centres in India –with participation by homegrown Indian enterprises as well as global technology powerhouses.
The announcement last week in Mumbai, by arguably the world's largest cloud-as-a-service player Amazon Web Services (AWS) at its annual summit in Mumbai, of a Rs. 1,05,600 crores (Rs 12.7 billion) investment in Cloud infrastructure in India, between now and 2030, should be viewed against this background.
It is an assurance to the Indian government -- and an early shot across the bows of competitors -- which says: We’re here for the long haul.
At the summit the company unveiled new fit-for-future cloud and data centre technologies and provided a roadmap for sustainability and community development for the coming months.
Aligning to India Cloud and Digital India goals
Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology ( MeitY), Skill development and Entrepreneurship welcomed the move by AWS: “The India Cloud programme and the underlying data centre infrastructure are important elements of India's digital infrastructure and ecosystem and (the AWS investment) will certainly catalyse India’s digital economy.”
He also hinted at a possible synergy with MeitY, which is working on a Cloud & Data Centre Policy to catalyse innovation, sustainability, and growth of India Cloud.
Since 2021, MeitY has been working with AWS to create a reliable, scalable, and resilient technical infrastructure to power a nation-wide vaccination infrastructure for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The application hosted the Co-Win app which enabled 10 million vaccinations a day. Read the whitepaper here.
Other large users of AWS’ cloud infrastructure in India include public healthcare institutions like Aarogyasri Health Care Trust and enterprises such as Ashok Leyland, Axis Bank, HDFC Life and Titan. In the coming months, the company hopes to add familiar as well as new mid-sized names to this list, including ones that need global standards and compliance built-into their core business, explains Puneet Chandok, President of Commercial Business, AWS India and South Asia.
He added: “AWS is committed to driving positive social and economic impact in India. In addition to building cloud infrastructure and helping local customers and partners digitally transform, we have trained more than four million people in India with cloud skills since 2017, and invested in six utility-scale renewable energy projects to meet our global 100% renewable energy goal by 2025.
Skilling the rest of India
AWS has taken its skill-based development programmes to the ‘rest of India’: AWS re/Start is a free, full-time skills development programme to jump-start your career working in Cloud Computing (explanatory video here).
A technology background is not required to apply and the programme is focused on unemployed and underemployed individuals. With 13 educational and voluntary agencies as partners, each with multiple delivery centres that combine both offline and online instruction spread over 12 weeks, the programme has had a wide reach.
Learners receive job-specific training for roles such as technical support specialist, systems administrator, cloud automation lead, up to infrastructure engineer and more. The programme provides learners with professional skills like effective communication, resume writing, and interview coaching to prepare them for employer meetings and interviews.
The company claims that a classroom-based skills development and training programme that prepares individuals for careers in the cloud, has connected over 98% of all programme graduates in India with employment opportunities across organisations.(Look for nearest centre under Asia Pacific – India on this page).
A few weeks back, AWS announced another scheme, AWS re/Start Associate, to help unemployed and underemployed IT professionals modernise their skills, and pivot to mid-level cloud careers, in collaboration with Generation India Foundation, a non-profit organisation, and are being leveraged by the Ministry of Education, All India Council for Technical Education, NITI Aayog, and state government organisations such as Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation, Tamil Nadu Skill Development Corporation, and Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge.
Never too early to innovate
An electric car with built-in self-charging capabilities which ensure that the vehicle is always self-sustaining? Sorry you can’t order one yet – but a child from one of Navi Mumbai’s chain of municipal schools, came up with this idea and explained its feasibility at the AWS Think Big Science Carnival, held on March 24, 2023.
Students showcased interesting science projects developed by them at the tech mela, organised as part of the AWS Thing Big Spaces programme that provides underprivileged children the infrastructure and guidance required to excel at STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) subjects. More than 2,000 students from 50 Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) schools attended the finale conducted at the CIDCO Exhibition Centre in Navi Mumbai.
Joining hands with State governments for a sustainable future
In keeping with the green outreaches of India-based industry, the company, has invested in six utility-scale renewable energy projects, three solar, and three wind-solar hybrids , with a combined renewable energy capacity of 920 megawatts, which will supply energy for Amazon’s corporate offices, fulfilment centres, and data centres in India.
Additionally, AWS supports water replenishment projects with non-profit organisations like Water.org and WaterAid, which have provided access to clean water to more than 250,000 Indian citizens in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.
Through investments, skilling and sustainability programmes, AWS is a good example of an international technology player participating in a ‘Digital India’ future, with one distinguisher: by the nature of its offering, the company has its head in the clouds.
This article has appeared in Swarajya