In an attempt to provide cloud services to more businesses in India, technology giant Microsoft has announced the launch of its Azure Stack in the country. With this, Microsoft will be offering three types of cloud services to its customers: private, public and hybrid.\r\n\r\nAs per reports, Microsoft currently caters to over 200K large, medium and small businesses in India, in addition to 29 state governments and up to 5,000 tech startups. According to its spokesperson, around 70 of the top BSE companies have availed Microsoft Azure services.\r\n\r\nCommenting on the development, Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari said, "We are fuelling innovation and accelerating India's digital transformation with our global and local cloud services. As many mobile-only and cloud-only collaboration and productivity scenarios emerge in the workplace, we are working with our customers and partners to accelerate movement to the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge in the next year, and to help build new engines of growth.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cMicrosoft and our partners are helping customers who want to utilise the full power of our cloud platform and use artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT),\u201d he added.\r\n\r\nOf the total 42 data centres, Microsoft currently has three in India, in Mumbai, Pune and Chennai specifically. In India, Microsoft claims to have more than 9,000 cloud partners, whereas globally the number stands at the 64,000 mark.\r\n\r\nIn a related development, the Karnataka government\u2019s IT department has reportedly partnered with Microsoft to integrate artificial intelligence and advanced analytics into the state\u2019s public healthcare system.\r\n\r\nElaborating further, the state\u2019s IT Minister Priyank Kharge said in a statement, \u201cWe are very pleased to announce that Telangana will be the first state in India to bring AI in public health screening and we are excited about how technology has the potential to make great social impact. I am extremely happy with the collaboration between our health and IT departments and Microsoft which has resulted in a solution that is going to make a huge difference to the lives of the people in our country, starting with our state.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn 2016, the Ministry of Information Technology (MeitY) of the Union government hired Microsoft as its public cloud service provider.\r\nSo, What Is The Microsoft Azure Stack?\r\nAs explained by Maheshwari, Azure Stack is basically an extension of Microsoft\u2019s cloud computing platform, Azure. With the new technology, businesses can run Azure services on-premises.\r\n\r\nAzure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) delivery, for instance, is more advanced than conventional virtualisation, ensuring rapid deployments and auto-scaling for modern workloads. The Azure platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities strives to bring hybrid deployment and portability to cloud applications.\r\n\r\nAccording to the company\u2019s website, through Azure Stack, clients can run fully-managed PaaS, serverless computing, distributed microservices architectures as well as container management on-premises.\r\n\r\nAs part of the launch, Microsoft has teamed up with HP, Dell, EMC, Lenovo and Cisco to ship the product to customers across the country. Furthermore, the tech giant has also partnered with Netmagic, G7CR and Embee to create an Azure Stack-ready ecosystem.\r\n\r\nSpeaking at the launch, Maheshwari said, \u201cAs the pace of digital transformation picks up in 2018, we recognize that many customers prefer to evolve gradually by first moving to a hybrid cloud environment before fully embracing the public cloud. With Azure Stack, we will help our customers move forward in their preferred digital transformation path at a pace they prefer.\u201d\r\nA Look At The Leading Sectors That Have Adopted Microsoft Azure\r\nIn India, the financial services and IT sectors have seen large-scale adoption of Microsoft\u2019s cloud computing services, followed by the manufacturing and education industries. In the financial services domain, the company claims to be servicing 10 of the largest banks, including State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank, Yes Bank, Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda and IndusInd Bank, among others.\r\n\r\nState Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar stated, "We are excited about our partnership with Microsoft. As India's economy continues to grow, the BFSI sector needs to be well-equipped to address dynamic market pressures and rapidly evolving industry needs. It has become imperative to transform technologically to sustain a competitive edge. A digital culture shift, designing a modern workplace that harnesses digital intelligence and enabling mobility are key aspects.\u201d\r\n\r\nBankChain, a community of 30 banks from India and the Middle East that is working to implement blockchain in banking, also runs on Microsoft Azure.\r\n\r\nInterestingly, the tech behemoth also its cloud services to nearly 5,000 Indian tech startups. In July, for instance, homegrown cab aggregator Ola switched\u00a0AWS to Azure, amidst talks of raising $50 Mn-$100 Mn funding from Microsoft.\r\n\r\nEarlier in February, Microsoft signed a deal with ecommerce startup Flipkart, wherein Flipkart adopted Azure as its exclusive public cloud platform. Later in April, the company invested $200 Mn in Flipkart, as part of the famous $1.4 Bn round led by Tencent and eBay.\r\n\r\nAs claimed by Maheshwari, Microsoft is adding over 100 startups every month to its BizSpark programme, as part of which selected startups get access to $120K worth of Azure cloud credits.\r\n\r\nIn the cloud computing market, Microsoft competes with first-mover AWS. Launched in 2006, \u00a0AWS currently provides 44 availability zones across 16 infrastructure regions worldwide, with another 14 availability zones, across five AWS Regions in China, France, Hong Kong, Sweden, and a second GovCloud Region in the US expected to come online by the end of 2018.\r\n\r\nAt the first AWS Summit in Bahrain, the company also announced plans to open a cloud region in the Middle East by early 2019. Interesting in the same month, Microsoft beat both Google and Amazon to announce its African first data centres, which are expected with open in 2018. With the launch of its Azure Stack in India, Microsoft is looking to get ahead of its competition by forging partnerships with government departments, banks, corporates and startups.