Microsoft’s Biggest Client, or Just a PR Stunt? – Part II
This is the concluding part of a two-part article. For the first part, please see Microsoft’s Biggest Client, or Just a PR Stunt? – Part I .
There is another possibility at play here. If Microsoft manages to sell the viability of its cloud offerings to the Indian government, this freebie can actually result in paying contracts in other areas. And as we all know, governments are big spenders, even on information technology (See: How Much Can the US Government Save By Going to the Cloud?).
Getting buy-in is important for cloud companies, and this has seen them offering services for free before (See: Ninefold and Rackspace Battle for Australian Startup Mind Space) and Why is Rackspace targeting Startups?). Winning the hearts and minds of customers, even with freebies, can be a strategy for sustained business.
Let’s look at another possibility. Endorsement by the government is of tremendous value for any new technology. In an earlier article (See: Can The US Government “Lead by Example” in Cloud Computing Adoption?), I had written with regard to the US government and cloud computing – “Since cloud computing is a new technology that still has a lot of doubters, acceptance by the government which has the reputation of being staid, conservative, old-fashioned and resistant to change will definitely make the technology more acceptable to businesses and the public alike.”
Now, if the US government is described as “staid, conservative, old-fashioned and resistant,” you can be sure that the Indian government is even more so. Bureaucratic delays and red tape in Indian governments are legendary, and not in the positive sense of the term. Despite all this, the fact that the Ministry of Human Resource Development found value in Microsoft Live@edu and acted on it is a tremendous vote of confidence for Microsoft. At a time when the Indian cloud computing market is set to explode (See: Cloud Computing and India, Emerging Superstars of the 21st Century), one can see the obvious implications of this deal.
And finally, Microsoft’s move can get students accustomed to Microsoft technology. After all, the students of today are the developers and customers of tomorrow. In other words, engineering students who grow up with Microsoft technology will not only be amenable to use it in their workplaces, but also participate in the development of future technologies. Microsoft has always had big expectations from India (See: How India Stands to Gain from Cloud Computing), and this may be a strategic move to realize those expectations.
Whatever be the reason (or perhaps a combination of them), this truly is a major win for Microsoft that I believe will yield rich dividends in the foreseeable future.
By Sourya Biswas