Microsoft Thinks Big on Cloud

The software behemoth’s recent conference on Windows Azure aimed at gaining a larger foothold in the growing cloud market in India

For Microsoft, India has become a very attractive market for its cloud business. This is evident in the way it is aggressively engaging with the Indian IT community, including software and mobile app developers,system integrators (SIs), channel partners and enterprises of all sizes.

Recently, Microsoft organized its first major Windows Azure conference in Bengaluru. The two-day meet aimed to offer a deeper understanding around cloud technology and the numerous opportunities it provides today to businesses.

The cloud transition
“Microsoft is powering the cloud transition in India with Windows Azure and a set of comprehensive offerings across private, hybrid and public clouds. We are adding over 2,000 commercial cloud customers every month in India and they are across all industry segments and across large, mid-sized and small companies,” Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India said in his opening address.

According to Pramanik, the popularity of Windows Azure among Indian enterprises is growing largely because of benefits it offers, including scalability, reduced cost, flexibility and business agility.

“Azure is a powerful platform for the entire Indian ecosystem of IT professionals, developers and start-ups to bring their applications to market worldwide. It helps Indian customers leapfrog to the cloud and accrue significant cost savings. It provides a unique opportunity for our partners to scale their business. I believe the opportunities ahead for India with the Azure cloud platform are tremendous,” Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft Corporation said in his video message to the audience at the conference.

The video message from company’s top executive clearly show how significant India is to Microsoft and its cloud business. The Windows Azure cloud is not only getting popular in India but it bringing good business for the company.

“Our investments in improving the readiness of our partners and developers is enabling faster cloud adoption. We are in a mobile-first, cloud-first world and cloud is becoming an integral part of the IT infrastructure in Indian enterprises today,” said Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, Microsoft India.

“Globally, our Azure cloud business is growing over 200 percent year on year but in India we are growing at even faster rate. We are adding more than 2,000 commercial cloud customers every month. These customers are across verticals and different sizes including small, mid market as well as large enterprises,” Bajwa informed.

In the past 18 months or so, Microsoft India has been strategically working to give a big push to build a cloud ecosystem in the country involving system integrators (SIs), partners, independent software vendors (ISVs) along with startups.

In fact, the company has some 10,000 partners along with a strong base of 1.6 million developers in India that are involved in driving the cloud ecosystem here. Microsoft’s cloud partner ecosystem grew 200 percent last year, while the count of ISV application on Azure cloud witnessed a 100 percent growth. Some 1,700 startups are using Azure cloud through Microsoft’s BizSpark program.

To drive the Windows Azure cloud offerings that involves software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS), the company has made $15 billion investments in its global data centre infrastructure and networks. However, Microsoft, presently has no data centre in India.

According to Bajwa, India’s top five SIs are using Azure cloud for their internal purpose as well as using it to build applications and roll out services to their customers. The cloud revenue is expected to jump from 5 to 15 percent over next few years.

Expanding the cloud
In a bid to attract more SMBs on the Windows Azure cloud, Microsoft announced a Trade-in Scheme for the Indian market on the second day of the conference. It’s the first time that Microsoft has introduced a plan in India for a 3-month period between March 20 to June 30 this year.

As per Microsoft, through this scheme,  any SMB with IT hardware of less 250 personal computers (PCs) can sell off its existing old IT with a cash value or can avail a monthly credit on Windows Azure subscription but on upfront initial commitment.

According to Bajwa, SMBs don’t have large IT investments like big enterprises and organizations, but for them, even the small investments in IT remains big and substantial.

“For them (SMBs), cloud is a highly suitable and affordable way to get access to technology that is used by large enterprises and organizations. And Microsoft’s Trade-in Scheme offers a good opportunity for them to get value for their old IT hardware and adopt Windows Azure cloud,” said Bajwa.

According to Meetul Patel, General Manager – Small and Medium Businesses, Microsoft India, SMBs are very critical and important for the economy and with the new Trade-in Scheme, SMBs will now have the opportunity to jump start their transition to the cloud and reap significant benefits.

Microsoft has tied up with a Mumbai based recycling and asset recovery (buy-back) firm, Justdispose, for its Trade-in Scheme, where the firm is in-charge of evaluating old IT equipment like PCs and servers of SMBs and accordingly offer cash value.

With this scheme, Microsoft hopes that its Azure cloud will gain wider acceptance and penetration among SMBs in India.

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