Airtel, AWS partner to service growing Indian cloud market, take on Jio-Microsoft

Airtel, AWS partner to service growing Indian cloud market, take on Jio-Microsoft
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Telecom company Bharti Airtel has announced a multi-year strategic collaboration with Seattle, Washington based cloud solutions provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) to cater to the growing public cloud services market in India.

The companies, a statement said, look to deliver cloud solutions to large enterprises as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and cater to the public cloud services segment in the country that is expected to touch $7.1 billion by 2024, with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.3%.

The New Delhi-based telecom services provider earlier teamed up with AWS in March 2015 to offer the latter’s cloud computing services to its domestic customers. Barring the 2015 partnership, the new AWS-Airtel collaboration is the cloud giant’s biggest pact with a major telecommunications provider in India.

In December last year, the Amazon subsidiary also signed a deal with UK’s Vodafone Group, which runs telecom giant Vodafone Idea in India, to deliver AWS Wavelength, a tool to help developers build applications.

The latest development comes nearly a year after Airtel rival Reliance Jio made a ten-year partnership with Microsoft to innovate for better connectivity, storage and computing solutions in India. As part of the deal, Jio would provide its internal workforce with cloud based productivity tools from Microsoft 365 and migrate non-network applications to Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure.  

Microsoft had traditionally been behind AWS in the small and mid-sized business segment, and the Reliance-Jio partnership in India’s huge market spelt a lost opportunity for cloud giant AWS.  Trade association Nasscom said in a report in late July that the Indian SaaS market revenue touched $3.5 billion in the financial year 2019-2020, which is a growth of 30% annually. With the new Airtel deal, AWS expects to grab a bigger piece of the cloud opportunity that India holds.

Airtel, which already runs a multi-cloud product and solutions wing called Airtel Cloud, will now build a separate AWS cloud practice and differentiated Airtel Cloud products that are supported by AWS services and Airtel’s data centre capabilities, network and telecommunications offerings, the statement said.

The partnership would apply to Airtel’s global businesses, with a focus on India operations, Harmeen Mehta, CIO and head of cloud and security business at Bharti Airtel, said.

While Airtel had partnered with Google Cloud in January this year to provide its G-suite to Airtel’s SME customers as part of an integrated ICT portfolio, the current Airtel-AWS partnership will focus on a wider portfolio of solutions for Airtel customers through Airtel Cloud, including Windows on AWS, SAP on AWS, a VMware cloud on AWS, database migration and security and risk governance solutions.  

“This collaboration brings AWS, the world’s leading cloud platform, together with Airtel’s deep reach and proven expertise in handling network, data centres, security and cloud as an integrated solution,” Mehta said.

The company, which has a presence in over 18 countries with 2,500 enterprise customers across Asia and Africa, will make an enterprise security announcement in the next few weeks, Mehta added in a video call with reporters on Wednesday.

Many enterprises in India are just starting their cloud journeys and the Airtel-AWS partnership would look to tap into the growing market needs for hybrid and public cloud, Neil Shah, partner and vice president of research at Counterpoint Research, an Hong Kong based industry analysis solutions provider, said.

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Additionally, Airtel will use AWS solutions portfolio in analytics, data warehousing, internet of things (IoT) and machine learning technologies to help customers adopt new services and move to the cloud.

“This collaboration gives customers a single point of contact when dealing with complex migrations or custom-built solutions,” Puneet Chandok, president of commercial business for India and South Asia at Amazon Internet Services, said.

To support its 110 million users in India, Airtel in July rolled out the world’s largest cloud-based VoLTE network in partnership with Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia’s CloudBand-based software products.

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