Software major SAP will store data of its Indian clients on local servers, which the company will set up on its own or in partnership with other firms.
Germany-headquartered SAP provides business software for its more than 10,200 customers in the Indian Subcontinent. The move to store data locally is in line with India’s draft data protection policy which has proposed that critical personal data of Indian users held by digital and global firms be stored and processed locally.
“We find ways and opportunities that we can keep the data of the Indian customers also here in the country,” Christian Klein, COO of SAP, said. “No matter if there is not yet a final decision (on the law), but we are creating infrastructure in India that allows us to really react in a very flexible way to any potential new data privacy rules”.
A panel led by former Supreme Court judge Justice Srikrishna has allowed the government to decide on what is critical personal data. The draft bill is expected to be placed in Parliament once a new government is formed.
Klein, who is also an executive board member of SAP, said that while the company has a principle that “data is owned by customers”, it would remain flexible to comply with the ensuing data protection law in India.
The company said it is evaluating the options for either creating its own infrastructure or working with partners in India.
“Our customers are on a wait-and-watch mode. It is on the top of the mind of the people, but I don’t think anybody knows clearly what happens,” said Dilipkumar Khandelwal, managing director of SAP Labs India.
SAP also plans to have an open ecosystem, allowing multiple cloud services providers as customers demand different cloud storage. “A lot of talk is going on how can we provide our customers here in India the best cloud infrastructure you know out of India,” said Klein, who is the youngest member on the board of SAP.
Interestingly, various teams of experts in SAP’s India offices helped its customers in Europe to comply with GDPR, which was implemented in May last year, and deliver application services.
“The good thing is that in India huge parts of our application management in cloud is already delivered out of India. So this is why here we don’t have to do so much extra work,” Klein said. “So, for example, when there was the EU privacy regulations, that was a bit tougher because then you had to put up a workforce in place which you didn’t have before. Here, in India, it is different because we already have a strong workforce delivering services out of India”.
He said the teams in India are in a “comfortable position” to abide by any data protection law.
The enterprise software company, which has 7,500 of its core research and development workforce in India out of the 27,000-odd across the world, will begin construction for a second R&D facility in Bengaluru shortly.
SAP is actively screening startups in India which can add value to its product portfolio. The company is teaming up with startups through its SAP.iO programme, which invests in early-stage startups in the Seed, Pre-Series A and Series A funding rounds that can leverage SAP APIs, data, technologies, and business content.