Microsoft announced Thursday that it has signed its largest-ever cloud services deal, and it wasn't with a Fortune 100 company or to corporate brand we would all recognize. It is an agreement with the All India Council for Technical Education to deploy Microsoft’s Live@edu service to 10,000 technical colleges in the country, spanning 7.5 million users.
This makes the agreement a monumental moment, not just for Microsoft's cloud services usership base, but also marks a big shift in the education sector.
"A lot of students experience an inability to access the tools critical to academic success that, for some, translates to a lack of know-how needed to succeed in the workforce," said Anthony Salcito, vice president, worldwide education at Microsoft, in a statement. "The current IT system does not allow students, faculty and staff to communicate from anywhere at any time. The cloud solves this problem, enabling a seamless collaboration experience."
The technical colleges will now use Live@edu, Microsoft’s hosting communication and collaboration service specially built for the education sector, to provide collaboration services, email, web apps, IM services and storage to 7 million students and half a million staff and faculty members. The deployment will roll out over the next three moths, Microsoft said in a statement.
Microsoft didn't disclosed the price tag on the deal, but it was competing against Google and IBM for this contract.
With IT being on of India's fastest growing and well paying escorts of the economy, Microsoft has already secured a strong presence in the country and this deal and brand recognition is also an investment in aiding future employees for the company.
As of this deal, there are approximately 22 million people using Microsoft’s Live@edu service, which puts at least one-third of the usership in the technical schools in India -- that's a substantial get for Microsoft.
This India deal comes just a few weeks after Microsoft lost a bid with the Dutch university Tilburg, which was supposed to be the first Dutch school to migrate its students to Microsoft's Live@edu cloud services. But the university abandoned the migration and switched to Google Apps instead. The school stated that it dumped Microsoft because the company was is dragging its feet to transition from Live@edu to Office 365, which is still not completely available to schools, colleges and universities. Tilburg has since put its 13,000 students' accounts in the Google cloud instead.
While many big industries are searching for the cloud service they want their employees to use, the eduction sector could be one of the big industries that will capitalize the most on cloud innovation in the coming years and the companies that secure the schools could have an edge in the cloud space.