Microsoft Woos SMBs With Cloud To Take On Rivals

by Sohini Bagchi    Mar 25, 2014

cloud computing

Microsoft’s newly appointed Chief, Satya Nadella, has been wooing small businesses in India with its Azure technology. At the recent Windows Azure Conference in Bangalore, the company announced its vision for enabling small businesses to adopt cloud computing through its Azure technology platform. Many wonder whether its new strategies to woo the mid-market segment will help the tech giant take on to its rivals like Amazon, Google and SAP.

Wooing the SMB

In a unique initiative, Microsoft is offering cloud computing for small and medium business owners in exchange of their existing hardware. “SMBs who have 250 or less personal computers can exchange their existing hardware and get credit points to use Microsoft Azure, which is their cloud computing platform. It’s an exclusive 3-month scheme, launched only for the Indian market,” says the  company statement.

Karan Bajwa, managing director of Microsoft India says, “SMBs are the force drivers of the Indian economy and require agile, flexible and scalable infrastructure to help manage their costs well. This is a fantastic opportunity for SMBs to get value for their legacy hardware and at the same time leap to the cloud using Windows Azure. This transition will help them reduce maintenance costs and get future ready on a modern platform.”

Subsequently, the software giant is seeing many takers in emerging markets like India and the company estimates that a significant portion of its growth in India in the last 12 months has come from its cloud businesses. Bajwa informs that the company is adding around 2,000 customers every month for its cloud computing services and feels that Azure will make continue to make strong inroads in India. businesses from verticals spanning healthcare to finance and automobile are jumping onto this platform due to competitive pricing and flexibility, among other factors, say reports.

Taking on rivals

“We are at a pivotal time in our industry and users are relying on cloud and mobile computing technologies,” said Nadella, addressing more than 500 delegates through a video message at the conference. Analysts believe this is also a wakeup call for rivals like Amazon, who will further gear up with their Cloud services. In the last couple of years, Amazon has been already been increasing its presence through partners such as Ramco, 8K Miles and others to sell to Indian SMBs.

SAP has also been quite strong in this space. The company is betting big on areas such as Cloud and Hana in-memory platform, Rajesh Kumar, Head of Marketing, SAP India says, explaining that Cloud innovation will continue to drive the growth for SAP in India in the coming years, in large enterprises and SMB segment.

Read: SAP bets big on cloud innovation in India

Recently Cisco is also reported to have joined the cloud bandwagon, heating up competition in this space. Rob Lloyd, Cisco president of development and sales tells WSJ: “Everybody is realizing the cloud can be a vehicle for achieving better economics [and] lower cost.”

Cisco’s approach will again be different says the company, as the networking major plans to tailor its services to work especially well with software from companies such as SAP AG, Microsoft and VMware, to target businesses. The company said in a recent statement that its  “Intercloud” platform for interoperable cloud services could be combined with remote-computing technology to define the so-called Internet of Things from the weather-ravaged, intermittently connected edge to regional and global data centers. Cisco plans to invest $1 billion in its cloud business over the next two years

In the increasingly heated cloud landscape, analysts believe it needs to be seen how effectively Microsoft can take its new Cloud mission forward to win the mid-market segment and take on to rivals.