The SaaS wave

The Indian IT/ ITeS industry may lately have been at the receiving end of US President Barrack Obama’s protectionist policies, but when it comes to US government websites, Obama and his boys rely on made-in-India software like Fusion-Charts for data visualization. Surprisingly, Fusion-Charts is no big-ticket tech firm out of one of India’s hot and happening IT hubs. Little known back home in India but popular abroad, this niche software firm is just a 30-member outfit based out of Kolkata from where it caters to its Fortune 500 clientele across 110 countries. Even as some of India’s IT biggies await Obama’s next move in his increasingly protectionist agenda, a small but rising number of Indian startups like FusionCharts, Zoho, salaree.com, tringme, deskaway, kayako are storming the US and world markets, without so much as moving out of their cubicles in India. Some of these are not even based out of traditional tech hubs like Bangalore and Pune, but are catering to global biggies from their small-town centres in Jalandar and Noida. Nasscom has hailed these startups as the third wave of India’s IT revolution. Nasscom estimates that there are over 650 such startups in India involved in product development, of which nearly 100 have burst onto the scene in just the past three years. Nasscom chief Som Mittal has pegged the young tech product development industry in India at $12 billion by 2015. Unlike the Silicon Valley “me-toos” of the past, this new breed of tech companies are building products that are lean, indigenous and world-class, say experts. “A lot of our talent is wasted in the services sector. Product development, especially on the internet is the future; it is location agnostic and will bring us recognition, credibility and unlimited non-linear growth,” says Pallav Nadhani, who co-founded Fusion-Charts in 2002 as a 17-year-old. Sharad Sharma, chair of Nasscom’s product forum, echoes his views. According to him, after IT implementation services and BPOs, Software as a Service (SaaS) is the next big thing to help the Indian IT industry. Under SaaS, like in cloud computing, the software is deployed over the internet, hosted, owned and managed by a remote service provider, thereby effectively saving the end consumer costs of running the software and also making it easily accessible. “It has opened a whole new world for us. Geography, platform, infrastructure are irrelevant as long as you make a lean and world class product, which these startups are doing. In fact, we are setting some first-time examples in the world,” adds Sharma of Nasscom. Another example is Chennai start-up Zoho Corp, whose applications are rated on a par with that of Google and Microsoft and is poised to upend market leader salesforce-.com in CRM solutions. Even though Zoho has offices across the world, it operates with a 1500-strong team out of Chennai. World taking notice of desi tech startups . Raju Vegnesa, product evangelist at Zoho, says: “The talent pool in India is maturing. It’s now looking towards the future in product development for both the growing local market and the global market. We want to show the world that we can compete with the best and hold our own.” This perhaps explains the buzz surrounding Nasscom’s upcoming product conclave 2010 that is dedicated to lean startups adopting cloud computing and is planning to close registrations three weeks in advance due to the overwhelming response. Even PluGGd.in, a site dedicated to startups, which is hosting its annual unpluGGd event this month-end has developers and investors from across the world queued up. “Up and coming start-ups are going to shape the future of India Inc,” says pluGGd.in founder Ashish Sinha. So, many agree with Vegesna when he says that with the start-up revolution this is India 2.0.

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