New Delhi: In a surprise announcement, Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani on Monday announced a 10-year partnership with Microsoft to offer digital solutions to Indian start-ups. The announcement was made at the company’s annual general meeting in Mumbai.
The partnership brings enterprise users access to Microsoft’s cloud-based software and hardware infrastructure via the JioFiber network.
“Today, I am glad to announce that Jio and Microsoft have entered into a globally unique long-term alliance to accelerate the digital transformation of our country. When we put these two pieces together, we now have the capability to develop truly India-native solutions,” said Ambani during the annual general meet on Monday.
Paired with JioFiber, these services will be offered for free to budding start-ups, and at a tenth of the average market price to everyone else, said Ambani. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) would normally pay Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 for services that Jio is offering from Rs 1,500 onwards. Larger businesses can customise a plan to suit their needs.
Jio, Ambani announced, will also invest in start-ups in the recent future.
Microsoft will complement Jio’s fiber network with Azure-powered data centres and cloud infrastructure. Ambani said this partnership will allow India to build native, cloud-based applications designed and built for Indians and Indian businesses.
The decision was welcomed by several tech experts and start-up owners. A research paper by the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology said, “It’s no secret that the cloud has become a major component of a typical company’s IT Planning. Start-ups neither can afford the money nor time to build their own IT infrastructure as their primary focus should ideally be on their Core Domain-Product or a Service.”
Therefore, with Jio-Microsoft bringing cloud computing at significantly lower costs, Indian startups now have one less thing to worry about.
Speaking at the same event via video conferencing, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadela said, “Our ambition is to help millions of organisations across India thrive and grow in this era of rapid technological change. Our long-term partnership combines the power of our technology – including Azure, Azure AI and Office 365 – with Jio’s connectivity and digital solutions – which as you know are among the most used and fastest-growing in the world.”
The partnership aims to offer comprehensive technology solutions – from compute and storage, to connectivity and productivity – to SMBs everywhere in the country.
Jio and Microsoft will partner to launch new cloud data centres in India, ensuring more organisations can access the tools and platforms they need to build their own digital capability.
While elaborating on the cost benefits associated with the plan, Ambani said, “For a similar service, customers abroad pay over $1,000 per month. Today we are taking the bold step of giving these applications along with our connectivity to small businesses for 1/10th the cost, starting at Rs 1,500 per month. Now all small business will have access to unlimited enterprise-grade voice and data services, video conferencing, security solutions, marketing and sales solutions and many more productivity tools that will help them run their business efficiently and at par with larger enterprises.”
Experts pointed out that such a move will be a boon for India’s start-up space that face serious threat from global competition or fail due to lack of innovation. The cost benefit involved will also propel budding startup ecosystem to concentrate on their core product.
Ambani said, “You may know that 80% of the cost of running a start-up goes towards cloud and connectivity infrastructure.”
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