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Airtel, IBM partner to offer edge cloud services in India

Technology giant IBM and India's second-largest service provider Airtel will work together to provide edge cloud services to businesses through 120 data centers across 20 large cities in India. The two companies announced a partnership earlier this week.

Airtel's edge computing platform will be deployed as a hybrid environment based on IBM Cloud Satellite and Red Hat OpenShift.

"This can help improve business performance and customer experience by reducing latency while addressing data security and sovereignty requirements, which is critical as workloads increasingly shift to the edge," said the press release.

Airtel and IBM are offering Indian businesses an alternative to global cloud services that may take data out of the country.
 (Source: Steve Jurvetson on Flickr CC2.0)
Airtel and IBM are offering Indian businesses an alternative to global cloud services that may take data out of the country.
(Source: Steve Jurvetson on Flickr CC2.0)

IBM Consulting will lead the systems integration for the IBM platform. Airtel and IBM Consulting will also work together to develop new use cases that use Airtel's 5G connectivity and IBM's hybrid cloud capabilities to help enterprises address business issues.

Five reasons why

Airtel has said that it will launch 5G services before Diwali (festival of lights) in late October. 5G connectivity coupled with edge computing will offer significant value to Indian businesses by bringing down latency and improving network performance.

"As India gears up to experience 5G, we see a massive opportunity to help businesses across industries transform how they deliver goods and services," said Ganesh Lakshminarayanan, CEO – Enterprise, Airtel Business.

"We have the largest network of edge data centers available in India under the Nxtra brand and we will leverage our work with IBM to help Indian businesses address their critical business needs with greater efficiency, making it significantly easier for companies to process workloads where their data resides."

India is working on a Data Protection Bill, which will likely be introduced in parliament in the upcoming winter session.

The previous version of the bill, now withdrawn, included stringent norms for data localization. Though concerns were raised by the industry, the new bill will likely include data localization in some form.

Sovereign data nation

With this announcement, Airtel and IBM are offering Indian businesses an alternative to global cloud services that may take data out of the country and may not be able to meet data sovereignty requirements.


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"As businesses – particularly those in regulated industries – work to modernize their infrastructures, they need to be able to do so in a way that enables them to stay compliant, without becoming overburdened by their compliance obligations – regardless of where their data resides," said Howard Boville, head of IBM Cloud Platform.

The press release also announced that Maruti Suzuki, a prominent passenger car maker in the country, will use this platform to improve the accuracy and efficiency of quality inspections on the factory floor.

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— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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