Speaking to All Things Talent, Piyush Somani, MD and Chairman, ESDS Software Solution Ltd., talks about ESDS’s journey of growth, increasing demand for the data center industry, and the tech talent requirements in the current market.
Q.The flood of funding has made working for startups aspirational. How did the firm, founded in 2005, at a time when cloud and data centers were not popular in the country, manage to get going initially?
A. During one of my trips to the UK, I saw how the data center business was flourishing, and witnessing the growth there, I decided to replicate the same here in India. In 2010, ESDS Internet Services Private Limited, engaged in the business of providing internet services, began its operations. However, during its initial days, there were certain challenges since Indian businesses typically weren’t online. Upon realising this, I traveled extensively across the country and visited numerous banking & government customers. Investments in the domestic markets demanded costs, research & development, software, and hardware. By encashing this opportunity, we developed eNlight Cloud in 2011, an in-house developed intelligent cloud computing platform, making ESDS the first company to offer a true ‘Make in India’ Cloud in the nation.
Q.What are some of the key highlights in the company’s 1.5-decade journey as it witnessed major growth both financially as well as on the employee side?
A. In 2005, I started a web hosting support business from a row house at Nashik with few employees. But after that, there has been an increase in the number of employees, driven by factors like expansion in ESDS’ data center at Nashik and data centers at Bengaluru and Navi Mumbai. As of June 30, 2021, the total number of employees at ESDS across all locations was 946.
Q.What kind of business opportunity does a data center offer the country? Besides the mandate for data localisation, where does the country stand in terms of the data center business globally? What is the big picture of the country’s data center requirements?
A. Data localisation and privacy have been a major concern in recent times. This is why the Government of India is strongly focusing on keeping the data within Indian geographic boundaries.
The Central Government released a comprehensive Draft Data Center Policy in November 2020, which focuses on the following avenues:
- Ease of Doing Business – Provide infrastructure status to the data center sector, simplifying clearances for setting up data centers in India, and formulation of data center Incentivisation Scheme (DCIS) for promotion of data center parks.
- Enabling a Favourable Ecosystem – Ensure reliable power, internet connectivity, and business continuity, recognise data centers as a separate category under the National Building Code because of the requirement of different norms with respect to other commercial buildings/offices and data centers to be declared as “essential services,” under “The Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968.”
- Setting Up Data Center SEZs – Setting up at least 4 data center economic zones (DCEZ) in India as a central sector scheme and creating an ecosystem of hyper-scale data centers, cloud service providers, IT companies, R&D units, and other allied industries.
- Promoting Indigenous Technology Development – To encourage local manufacturing, establishing joint ventures with foreign companies, human resource development by promoting research and capacity building.
The data center industry has started to gain momentum with the attractive investments from hyper-scale Cloud providers. The increase in the number of smartphone users and wireless subscribers indicates the deep penetration of digital technology, enabling firms to shift from traditional offering modes to ‘digital’ means. The pandemic of Covid-19 has further propelled data consumption (12 GB per user in December 2020), with the working class adapting to a ‘work from home’ culture, students enrolling into online classes or tutorials, and e-governance initiatives of the Government (e-Aadhar, digital KYC, Digi Locker, Aarogya Setu, CoWin, etc.). The rapid movement from cloud computing to edge computing is driving the data center industry forward as well. The Government’s digitisation drive and emphasis on smart cities are fuelling the demand for more data centers. Further, data localisation law has resulted in higher importance for the regional data centers.
Q.What kind of hiring is needed for data centers, particularly for ESDS? What is the current workforce strength, department-wise?
A. An individual that is looking to build his career in a data center must have critical thinking backed with technical expertise. Working at a data center allows the data center staff to leverage a skill set that is required for addressing the changes in the IT Industry.
As of June 30, 2021, ESDS had employed 946 personnel across all its locations. The department-wise breakdown can be seen below. The technical support team is one of the major departments at ESDS, accounting for 220 personnel of the total employee count.
Q.What is the scope for Green data centers?
A. The Government’s focus to produce renewable energy paves the way for investments in greenfield data center projects. This rise is attributed to enterprises aiming to focus on green solutions which may play a significant role in reducing carbon footprint and enhancing process efficiency. Our data centers have received Green IT Infrastructure Award from the Department of Industries, Government of Maharashtra at the Maharashtra IT Awards, 2010.
Q.What are your thoughts on the tech talent requirements and the current market demand?
A. One of the key takeaways from the ongoing pandemic was the demand for digitisation of business operations. We saw industries across industries taking a strategic approach for solving their problems and enhancing process efficiencies. The Government of India is embracing Cloud Computing technology for expanding its e-governance initiatives throughout the country. Hence, to modernise the operations, companies are looking for candidates that are agile, creative, and well-versed with technological capabilities. Skills such as Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cybersecurity are certain key priorities for recruiters from the technology industry.
Q.With the data centers business booming with players like Netmagic, Nxtra, CtrlS, and new players like Ascendas and Adani entering, what are your views on talent availability, skilling requirements, and career opportunities?
A. The HR Team at ESDS is constantly on an endeavour to enroll the talent in line with the corporate mission and vision.
Data center providers are constantly devising ways by which they enhance the operability of their data centers. Well-trained data center staff can be beneficial for averting any form of disaster or mishaps, be it natural or human-induced. Data center teams need to be careful and alert for all the events at the data center facilities.
“The Government of India is embracing Cloud Computing technology for expanding its e-governance initiatives throughout the country. Hence, to modernise the operations, companies are looking for candidates that are agile, creative, and well-versed with technological capabilities. Skills such as Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cybersecurity are certain key priorities for recruiters from the technology industry.”