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India generates 20% of the world’s data, but only has 2% of data centres

With artificial intelligence and incredibly generative AI becoming an integral part of our daily lives, protecting the data that train AI models and ensuring data sovereignty has become pertinent. However, in India, it is a massive challenge.

Viswanathan was speaking at unveiling a joint report created by Intel and the IDC, or International Data Corporation, where he was joined by the IDC’s Associate Vice President, Sharath Srinivasamurthy.

“India accounts for 20 percent of all the data generated in the world,” added Viswanathan. “However, we barely have 2 percent of the world’s data centers to store and process it.” This leaves Indian businesses no choice but to store their data in the cloud, often stored on servers and data centers outside India’s sovereign borders.

This presents two problems. First, ensuring data sovereignty becomes a task, especially if we want to have access to and use all the data we generate. Secondly, this makes computing unnecessarily expensive, especially at an enterprise level.

India, however, is not just facing challenges but also presenting a unique opportunity. “We are witnessing a surge in investments in data centers,” said Viswanathan. “We also have robust laws, like the DPDP (Digital Personal Data Protection Act), that are paving the way for businesses in this direction.” This indicates that India’s data center sector has the potential to not just catch up but also surpass global standards, becoming a key hub for AI development.

India’s data center sector is experiencing significant growth amid the digital transformation. With cost advantages, a skilled labor pool, low climate risks, stable governance, and robust data protection laws, India is emerging as a critical data center hub. Global data center operators, cloud service providers, hyperscalers, private equity investors, and developers are increasingly investing in the country.

Moreover, the recent government announcement that data centers should be granted infrastructure status is a significant step. This move will facilitate access to long-term institutional funds, driving additional investments in the sector. It underscores the government’s commitment to fostering a robust digital infrastructure landscape in India, providing substantial impetus to its rapid evolution.

Another intriguing aspect is that most Indian businesses that are working with AI have the opportunity to bypass the need for expensive cloud storage and processing. This is made possible by the advent of edge computing, a technology that not only reduces costs but also enhances data sovereignty, a crucial aspect in today’s data-driven world.

The IDC X Intel Asia/Pacific AI Maturity Study of 2024 revealed that by 2025, at least 75 percent of enterprise-generated data globally would be created and processed outside of traditional data centers or the cloud, on edge.

At least 75 percent of Asia-Pacific organizations will increase their spending on edge computing in 2024. Furthermore, at least 50 percent of organizations believe edge computing will account for at least 16 percent of their overall IT expenditures.

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