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Will project Baadal stimulate India’s MSME engine?

Satarupa Bhattacharya

The Indian government wants to help its massive community of small businesses become more competitive in the age of the internet through a cloud computing resource, known as Baadal.

Project Baadal aims to increase the competitiveness of the country’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) which are seen as the engine for growth in India. With economic growth in India slowing these companies are more important than ever.

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Baadal is a cloud orchestration and virtualization management platform developed at the  Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD). It can work with multiple virtualization technologies like KVM, Xen and VmWare.

In July at the 'India SME Heroes Challenge' event organized jointly by FICCI and Google India, the Minister of State at the ministry of MSME, K H Muniyappa, said the ministry is working on a six month project Baadal to provide a cloud computing platform for MSMEs. “This project will make Indian MSMEs more competitive in the internet world. There are numerous countries which are far ahead of India in this regard but the country's direct competition is with China in terms of production and quality. And this project will help them lot."

At the time the minister announced the findings of a study 'Unleashing the Potential: Internet's Role in the Performance of India's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).’

This research revealed: SME’s that are web enabled enjoy 51% higher revenues, 7% wider customer base and 49% higher profits as against their offline counterparts; only 5% of all Indian businesses (including mainstream ones) have web presence; and of those who are online, only 51% use web for advertisement and a mere 27% utilize it for e-commerce.

With 95% businesses still to gain a presence on the web, India is poised for massive gains with more and more SMEs coming into the online sphere after project Baadal.

The initiative is welcomed by businesses and IT suppliers. Naveen Maudgal, analyst at Ericsson said: “Internet can be a great social equalizer, which removes social and geographical barriers. With the government undertaking projects such as these and with 60% of the ministry’s schemes being online themselves the MSME’s would gradually come into the Online sphere which can only give a huge boost to their growth, thereby giving a boost to the IT Industry as a whole” 

T. Mukherjee from communications supplier Meghbela in Kolkata says, “I’m a player in the MSME segment and just have a website of my own. After this event and knowing about this project Baadal initiative I realize how much I can benefit from cloud computing technologies specifically related to our segment of business. In my case, ecommerce would definitely help me take my business to a different level altogether. This is a commendable initiative from the Government side and I can clearly visualize the bright future for our kind of business.” 

Features of Baadal include: dynamic resource scheduling and power management; an integrated workflow system for request and commissioning of virtual machines; facilities for suspend, resume, shutdown, power off, power on and specifying resource requirement of virtual machines; and dynamic resource utilization monitoring. There will be a cost  per virtual machine. Baadal is deployed by IITD on 48 blade servers with about 500 cores and 50 TB of virtualized storage. It currently has over 60 virtual machines commissioned for high performance computing.