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Microsoft teams up with India’s Jio in cloud push

Microsoft and Indian telecoms giant Jio will deliver cloud infrastructure services through two new datacentres being built in Gujarat and Maharashtra

Microsoft and major Indian telco Jio have joined hands to deliver a slew of cloud services for Indian companies that are undertaking digital transformation efforts.

Comprising connectivity, compute and storage services as well as productivity tools, the services would be delivered through two new datacentres that are being set up by Jio in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Microsoft is expected to deploy its Azure platform in these facilities, which can house IT equipment consuming up to 7.5MW of power when ready by 2020, to support Jio’s offerings.

Although the software giant currently operates Azure regions in Pune, Mumbai and Chennai, it told Computer Weekly that the Azure deployment in Jio’s datacentres will not be new Azure regions.

As part of the deal, Jio will also provide its employees with cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools available with Microsoft 365, and will migrate its non-network applications to Azure.

At the same time, it will leverage Azure to develop cloud offerings tailored for the needs of Indian startups, small and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises.

These offerings include speech recognition and computer vision capabilities that will support major Indian languages and dialects, making artificial intelligence (AI) technologies more accessible to companies in the sub-continent.

In a statement, Microsoft and Jio said their joint efforts will spur the adoption of data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive services, blockchain, the internet of things (IoT) and edge computing in India.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Jio’s parent company Reliance Industries, said this “unique and first of its kind” partnership will help to support the digitalisation of the Indian economy and make Indian businesses globally competitive.

Jio, the biggest mobile network operator in India with 340 million subscribers, is adding 10 million customers every month, Ambani said during Reliance’s annual general meeting on 12 August 2019.

Following its success in the consumer market, Jio has set its sights on the enterprise market with an IoT platform expected to be commercially available in January 2020.

It is also working on a blockchain initiative that will deliver security, trust, automation and efficiency to almost any type of transaction. “This is a vital capability for India especially for modernising our supply chains for agricultural produce and other goods which form the lifeblood of our economy,” Ambani said.

According to IDC, spending on public cloud services and infrastructure in India is forecasted to reach $2.9bn in 2019, an increase of 34.5% over 2018.

“Enterprises in India are realising the true cloud potential and are including emerging technologies like AI, IoT, analytics and blockchain in their portfolio,” said Ashutosh Bisht, senior research manager at IDC’s customer insights and analysis group. “The anticipated journey towards these value-added services are all driven out of the cloud.”

“Enterprises are adopting to the multi-cloud management capability; the challenge lies in managing and moving workloads seamlessly across multiple cloud platforms” Bisht added.

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