Wipro unveils India’s first major cloud computing platform

It’s finally here – the first major global Cloud-based platform rolled out by an Indian IT services major.

Wipro Technologies, the fourth largest Indian IT services provider, announced it was expanding its Cloud platform by offering a global-level Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) product.

IaaS is the basic level of Cloud offering. On top of IaaS is built higher levels of Cloud products such as Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service and Business-Process-as-a-Service (PaaS, SaaS and BPaaS.)

For now, however, Wipro seems to be offering only the core Infrastructure-as-a-Service part.

Cloud computing refers to making everything available over the Internet using cluster-server (Cloud) technology. Under this, anything — whether it is a computer (IaaS), a software platform (PaaS) or an application (SaaS) — can be made available to clients through the Internet.

Unlike the old model, where a player like Wipro would have gone to the client’s office and physically deployed new computers, installed software applications and helped maintain them for the client’s use, Cloud computing enables Wipro to simply do all that at its datacenter and let the client access the products by logging in through the Internet.

Due to economies of scale, ease of maintenance and lower travel needs, the new approach enables companies like Wipro to offer IT facilities for a fraction of what they would have cost earlier.

It is expected that the proliferation of such technologies will dent the main revenue source of IT services firms — development, deployment and maintenance of corporate software. As such, they were widely expected to try to offer Cloud-based solutions as well.

Infosys Ltd, TCS and HCL Technologies are also working on such platforms.

Like the others, Wipro had been offering such remote-IT services for some of its clients for some time now, but seems to be confident enough in its platform maturity to put more marketing dollars behind it.

“Last year we began offering multi-tenant, virtual server hosting to our existing clients as part of large, integrated infrastructure management engagements. Clients have quickly adopted the service, and today, 15% of the servers hosted in Wipro’s data centers are delivered in an as-a-service model,” stated Michael Wilczak, SVP – Strategy, Datacenter Services, Wipro Technologies.

“Now, we are expanding the service portfolio, deploying the platform throughout the US, Europe and India, and marketing the solutions as discrete service offerings under the Wipro iStructure service line.”

The IaaS services will be marketed as Wipro iStructure services. They will offer compute, storage, recovery, network, security and other services in an automated, consumption-based model to enterprises. A similar offering is Amazon.com’s Amazon Web Services, which is also available to individuals.

IaaS is only the first of a series (or layers) of Cloud Computing services that a player can provide. It is usually followed by PaaS and SaaS, and finally by BPaaS.

Wipro’s IaaS product will serve as “the foundation for offering a broad set of infrastructure, application and business process outsourcing solutions in an ‘as-a-service’ model,” Wipro said.

The as-a-service model lies between the ‘product’ and the ‘services’ approach taken by IT companies. While companies were free to focus on only products (Adobe) or only services (Wipro), in the new world, most IT firms are being forced to move to the hybrid as-a-service model.

The as-a-service model has been made possible by technologies such as virtualization and the omnipresence of cheap Internet connectivity.

According to Forrester Research, Inc. April 2011 report, Sizing The Cloud, the global market for cloud computing will grow from $40.7 billion in 2011 to more than $241 billion in 2020.

The compute, network and storage architecture were designed to ensure redundancy and minimize potential service disruptions, and the platform is installed in secure, high density data centers, Wipro added.

Standardized tooling and orchestration enable the integration of IaaS services with legacy infrastructure, and the web interface provides clients’ IT administrator to provision and manage capacity for various departments, generate usage and performance reports, and charge back on a consumption basis, it said.