Most of us living in India weren’t surprised when our population crossed a billion. Most Indians also didn’t pay attention when salesforce.com became the first Cloud Computing company to cross the $1B mark. Now some analysts suggest that the Cloud Computing market in India is expected to cross $1B soon. This is noteworthy given that companies in India are still very skeptical about the cloud model. “I don’t want to put my data on the web or some server outside my office or some unknown datacenter is a line we often hear from prospects evaluating salesforce.com.

So, I guess, things are expected to change soon. I have been working at the grassroots level, selling to companies hand-in-hand with the salesforce.com Account Executives (if you weren’t aware, Navatar Group works closely with salesforce.com in India also). My own experience is that there’s still a lot of evangelizing that needs to be done to raise the level of general awareness and reduce the fears. I would imagine that the Cloud providers are already at work, getting the message out.

The next important issue that I think needs to be addressed is accessibility. Although the internet is penetrating deeper and India is only next to China on the mobile user count, infrastructure is still a major bottleneck in India. Because of that, we find that prospects here give very serious consideration to an offline version of any cloud service. I still don’t see a lot of infrastructure providers paying attention to the opportunity that the cloud may offer, particularly in the SMB sector. We got a real taste of this after we sold our Capital Markets salesforce product to R. K. Stockholdings, a leading broker-dealer in North India with over 40 branches in small and mid-sized towns.

The other big issue so far has been affordability. It is true that the Cloud model offers a less capital-intensive alternative for businesses. But Indians are always looking for better deals. Due to an abundance of technical talent in this country, businesses are not scared to assemble software on their own since they still see that as a cheaper option. Cloud providers have been offering some discounts. But, they need better pricing models based on demographics and usage patterns.

The good news is that VCs are beginning to take notice. Rajeev Kumar, VP Sales at Navatar was recently invited to present to top Indian VCs in Mumbai around the Cloud opportunity for ISVs. We just attended Salesforce.com’s first partner event in Bangalore. We are finalizing a cloud contract with a large Indian bank and have several others in the pipeline. I know it’s just the beginning but I’m very optimistic about the change.

Amit Chaudhary