Call it a case of heated competition but a company once known for its packaged software is evaporating to a cloud quite literally this time. On a macro level what may look like the Googlization of Microsoft, the Indian consumer has all the reasons to cheer. What would till lately cost a few lacs will now be available for single digit currency. That's the magic of cloud computing and this week marked Microsoft foray into cloud computing.
This week Microsoft India announced commercial availability of Microsoft Online Services in India. Offering at very attractive prices starting $2 (sadly only in $) per user per month. This will allow SMBs and enterprise customers to access Microsoft's popular e-mail, collaboration, conferencing and productivity capabilities online. The users will simply pay use-based monthly subscription fee different from the previous model of installation of share point server and managing, storing and retrieving information on their own. HCL Infosystems, Infosys and Wipro are amongst leading partners to market and offer value added services around the Microsoft Online Services. According to Microsoft this helps reduce IT-related costs by 10 - 50%.
Stephen Elop, President, Microsoft Business Group was in India to announce this. In a conversation Stephen revealed more about the service offerings and Microsoft's foray in Cloud Computing. Software as a service model has been applicable worldwide for a few years now. Microsoft calls it software plus which it says aims to provide flexibility and choice of accessing and using software in a flexible model, i.e. both on premise and off the Internet or as a combination of both. Says Stephen Elop "In today's competitive global market businesses need cost effective technology that allows flexibility and adds value to their organizations. The alternative delivery model of Microsoft Online Services will give businesses streamlined communication with high availability, comprehensive security and simplified IT management."
One of the crucial questions is around data security especially on an enterprise level data residing in a cloud, is it really safe for an enterprise? Stephen said some of the biggest Telecommunication and Pharmaceuticals giants are using this service and Microsoft provides better data security than if the companies were to manage it themselves.
Cloud computing is the new niche IT companies see profits and customers in. Call it a case of win-win where the customer saves huge installation costs and other IT costs and pays only on a subscription per user basis and the service providers does what it is best at, providing the service. Noteworthy is companies like Salesforce and Google have had this model for years and have been very successful at it too.