Reliance Jio-Microsoft cloud tie-up likely to hurt Amazon Web Services

Reliance Jio’s partnership with Microsoft Cloud to enter the data centre market will give a huge boost to the Washington-headquartered company in the small and mid-sized business (SMB) segment where it has traditionally lagged Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Cloud application services, or software as a service (SaaS), is on track to be the fastest-growing market segment in India this year, accounting for nearly half of the public cloud services revenue.

So far this year, Adani Group has announced plans to enter the data centre space with Rs 70,000-crore investment plan. Mumbai-based real estate developer Hiranandani launched a data centre business called Yotta, with Rs 15,000 crore of investment planned over the next five to seven years while also building data centres for another leading data centre provider Netmagic. CtrLS, a tier-IV data centre, is investing Rs 2,000 crore in setting up data centres. “Hyperscale vendors like Microsoft and AWS have been running specific initiatives to make inroads into the SMB market for some time now and they have been successful in their own way. The Jio-Microsoft announcement in this space can be disruptive, if executed properly, as it can reach the bottom of the pyramid businesses that has been otherwise challenged by price constraints,” said Naveen Mishra, senior director, analyst, focusing on digital business and its impact on IT infrastructure and data centers at Gartner.

He added since these are small-ticket offerings, they are not likely to significantly impact the cloud spending projections over the next two-three years unless they demonstrate great execution levers.

On the one hand, the government has been vocal about digitising businesses and services as a result of which even state governments are seeking to set up data centres and IT parks to support the initiatives. This has, in turn, improved the projections for cloud infrastructure spending. Also, the dialogue around greater data localisation to protect citizen’s digital assets has been a driver for businesses to actually keep more local options available.

Some technology services experts have noted that in most cases, data centre providers do not get into exclusive partnerships with any cloud platform provider so in the long term it is unlikely that Microsoft will be the only provider in Jio’s kitty. However, with Jio’s expected entry into the home and enterprise fibre space, especially into tier-II and -III cities, where Microsoft has been attempting to create a strong foothold, this will be a big move.

“ While Microsoft has done well in the enterprise tech market because of its historic presence in the space, AWS was able to lead ahead in the SMB market. With this partnership, Microsoft can expect to close that gap,” said Pareekh Jain of Pareekh Jain Consulting. However, he adds, as most other data centre businesses, Jio is also likely to take other hyperscale providers like AWS or Google on board eventually as it gives the customers more flexibility. The growth of SaaS spending is fuelled by increased end-user spending on customer relationship management, as organisations in the country move away from commercial off-the-shelf products and licence-based on-premises software to a subscription-based SaaS model to gain agility, innovation and cost efficiency.

Public cloud services revenue in India is projected to touch $2.4 billion this year, an increase of 24.3 per cent from 2018, according to Gartner.

Even though India revenue will represent only 1.2 per cent of the global public cloud services total, it ranks among the nine countries whose growth rate will be higher than the global average growth rate (16 per cent). India is also on track to record the third-highest growth rate this year after China (33 per cent) and Indonesia (29 per cent).

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