Microsoft CEO Satya Nadela made a power push in India with plans to set up a data centre that would offer commercial cloud services in India by 2015 as the tech giant gears for competition for India's estimated $2-trillion market opportunity and a share of the government's 'Digital India' initiative.
The US technology giant said it would set up three data centres in three cities in India by the end of 2015, opening competition in the commercial cloud services business with rival firms such as Google and IBM.
Nadella said Microsoft will offer its commercial and cloud services - Azure and Office 365 - from local data centres in India by the end of 2015. The data centres will have "sizeable" capacity, he said, without disclosing the investment involved.
The CEO said his company will look to partner Indian corporates, government, and entrepreneurs to avail of a "$2 trillion opportunity."
"With more than 250 million Indians using internet-connected devices today, there is incredible demand and opportunity for India with Microsoft's cloud services," said Nadella.
''Last year, our cloud business in India grew over 100 per cent. Buoyed by that success we have now decided to offer cloud services from local data centres. This will help us make global infrastructure and make that available to local data centres,'' Nadella said.
''By offering cloud services through local data centres, we can help make Digital India a reality. This opens new possibilities in e-governance, financial inclusion, healthcare and education,'' Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik said.
Tirupathi-born Nadella, who is on his first visit to India since he took over as CEO of the technology giant earlier this year, addressed students along with human resource development minister Smriti Irani at an event that was streamed across 20 states, 300 cities and 750 locations.
The company's third CEO, after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, added that cloud computing services in India is a $2-trillion market opportunity.
Addressing the Microsoft Talent India 2014 in New Delhi today, the 47-year-old CEO told his young audience that the opportunity before them as they prepare to change the world "is unparalleled."
"All of you represent a multi-disciplinary approach to innovation - and that will change the future," he said.
He said world-class (cloud) infrastructure will help revitalise productivity.
Addressing the students, he said, "In the long run, EQ (emotional quotient) trumps IQ (intelligence quotient). Without being a source of energy for others very little can be accomplished."
Noting that Nadella's was a hard act to follow, HRD minister Irani said she would add GQ or governance quotient to EQ and IQ that the Microsoft chief spoke about. The government she said was making available "open resources to all students from economically challenged backgrounds."
"There are some who mock us at times for being overly dependent on social media, on information technology dreams, but we have seen the benefits of that. The Army in Jammu and Kashmir through social media managed to provide support to 12,000 people. That is how technology can help us," she said.
Satya Nadella lives and works in the US. He did his schooling and engineering in India, before heading to the US for a Master's degree. He joined Microsoft in 1992.
Greyhound Research CEO Sanchit Vir Gogia said Microsoft's business is an interesting mix between reach and depth - reach via WindowsOS and depth via Enterprise relationships.
While Microsoft has surely missed the mobility curve, it still remains to be a formidable player in cloud and platform arena, he added.