Digital infrastructure in emerging economies needs a complete revamp because of an exponential increase in demand as well as the accelerated digital transformation of enterprises. In an exclusive interaction with Amajit Gupta, Group CEO and MD, Lightstorm, spoke at length about how Lightstorm is bringing a paradigm shift in how networks are designed in emerging economies. He also spoke about expansion in the Middle East market to boost the network in the region.

What is the importance of digital infrastructures in emerging countries?
There has been an exponential increase in the use of cloud-based digital services in the emerging Asian market. For instance, a survey by EY India in 2022 says that 67% of large enterprises fast-tracked cloud adoption, 39% of medium-sized companies, and 38% of small enterprises started their cloud journey. Unfortunately, the traditional networks and business models were not built for this kind of growth. There is then an urgent need to boost and modernize the digital infrastructure in emerging economies to increase the use of cloud-based digital services in the emerging Asian market. Therefore, for emerging economies to benefit from opportunities in the digital ecosystem, they need an overhaul of the existing digital infrastructure.

What role is Lightstorm playing in building the digital infrastructure of the future?
We see ourselves as disruptors in South Asia and South-East Asia regions. We are the only carrier-neutral network infrastructure providers in India and Indonesia. Lightstorm is also the only cloud-native service provider in India.

Lightstorm is establishing networks to help emerging economies leapfrog in the cloud. Lightstorm is doing this by building a combination of state-of-the-art data center interconnect networks and Open CLS networks. Neutral CLS networks will have a far-reaching impact, including bringing down the cost of bandwidth, thus making it easier for businesses to benefit from the digital economy. On the other hand, powered by utility-grade fiber, the SmartNet DCI network is designed for extreme availability and the shortest latency. We are the only players in India to be able to promise a 100% uptime guarantee. This strategy is designed to ensure that businesses are not held back by the lack of new-age digital infrastructure.

We started operations in India, where Smartnet went live in early 2021 and the CLS network is likely to be launched in the second half of the year. After early validation by industry leaders, including five Fortune 500 companies, in India, Lightstorm has recently launched in Nepal and Bangladesh.

Besides, enterprises have been demanding greater control and visibility in their networks and to address this we have recently introduced Polarin, a self-service Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform. It is a one-of-its-kind platform in India and is designed to help businesses connect to the cloud within minutes, typically taking a few weeks. It provides unprecedented agility and flexibility thus ensuring that businesses can truly focus on growth.

Deploying digital infrastructure in emerging countries comes with several challenges. How is Lightstorm addressing these challenges?
Networks in developing nations face several challenges, including a lack of high-quality fiber, high instances of fiber cuts leading to unreliability, and high downtime, which directly impacts businesses. We are building a world-class digital infrastructure in several countries in the South Asian and South-East Asian regions to provide businesses the infrastructure they need to grow and thrive. It will open up new opportunities for them while accelerating the economic growth in the region.

Our networks are designed differently from traditional networks to address these challenges. For instance, we are able to ensure 100% uptime by using a utility-grade network since it is not vulnerable to fiber cuts, a persistent problem in emerging economies. In addition, our Smartnet network uses point-to-point linear links and leaf-spine mesh network architecture to ensure high reliability and uptime.

Another challenge that we faced is that cloud connectivity is a relatively new concept, so we had to work at educating our customers, and partners about our vision and how it will play a crucial role in delivering exceptional network performance. This led to the creation of Polarin, a first-of-its-kind self-service NaaS platform ensuring businesses to connect to the cloud within a few minutes.

Please elaborate on your plans for the Middle East market?
We have recently started operations in the Middle East market. It is an extremely important and strategic market for us and we would be making a multi-million-dollar investment in the region to provide improved digital infrastructure to our customers in the region.

We have partnered with Kalaam, Gulf Data Hub (GDH), and Etisalat to provide the best-in-class infrastructure to enterprises in the region. Over the next few months, we would be further boosting our presence in the region to ensure a world-class experience for hyperscalers and other digital businesses. Our partners will also be able to leverage Polarin to be able to provide improved cloud connectivity to the customers in the region. We will also be looking to enter in a space which connects Middle East to the rest of the world, with Europe on one side and India and Asia Pacific on the other side. These are the objectives of the ecosystem players here which makes it exciting for a newcomer like us and we want to enable them in their big digital transformation plans while conforming to local data protection laws and other compliances.

This is a contributed article written on behalf of Lightstorm by Gagandeep Kaur