Microsoft LogoMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that Microsoft will start offering its commercial cloud services, Azure and Office 365 via local data centers in India by the end of 2015. The company claims this move will benefit organizations in the country adopting its technologies, by providing them with data sovereignty, lower latency and geo redundancy.

Currently, Microsoft partners in India include system integrators (SIs) like HCL Infosystems, Wipro and TCS, and independent software vendors (ISVs) such as Newgen Software Technologies, MartJack and Nucleus software which build cloud offerings using Microsoft Azure and Office 365. Other customers of the company such as Fortis Hospitals, Bajaj Finance and FCB/ULKA also adopt its cloud technologies for their solutions. Overall, the company said the number of partners adopting its cloud solution has increased by more than 200% while the number of ISV applications had grown by 100%.

By localising data centres, Microsoft hopes to further drive the adoption of its cloud services in the country, which it claims have grown over 100% in revenue over the past year. The company, which claims to have over 10,000 partners in the country comprised of independent software vendors, hosters, system integrators and others, will now offer a Cloud Accelerator program to support its customers at different stages of adoption.

The company also offers various other programs and initiative to encourage adoption of its cloud technologies such as the BizSpark initiative which gives startups three years of free software, support and ‘visibility’ and the BizSpark+ initiative which offers $60,000 worth of Azure credits along with the aforementioned features. Microsoft currently claims to have over 4,800 Indian startups enrolled in its BizSpark initiative and to have invested over $10 million in providing support for the same. The company also provides its MSDN subscribers with up to $1800/year in Azure credits.

Interestingly, Microsoft’s gaming console Xbox which was released in India just earlier this week, also uses the Azure cloud platform for saving games, which probably means Xbox users will also benefit from the localization of its servers. The company also said its current initiative will benefit various customers in e-governance, financial inclusion, education, healthcare and other latency sensitive applications.

Preemptive move?

In June last year, after the major leak of the US Government’s surveillance program ‘PRISM‘, several Indian ISPs had asked the Indian Government to insist foreign Internet companies like Facebook and Google to setup local servers in India, in order to provide their respective services in the country. The national co-convenor of BJP’s IT cell Vinit Goenka, had also echoed the beliefs, that online companies need to store data of Indians in servers within the country for security and data sovereignty, in April this year. Last month, the issue was taken up by the newly established Cyber Regulatory Advisory Committee, after the court hearing of a PIL, arguing that the Centre should take steps to block over two crore porn websites. This move by Microsoft will serve as a preemptive measure, if such local server rules are indeed enforced.