Microsoft on Tuesday launched a public cloud for government customers, offering greater control over their data, and has signed up Italian defence group Leonardo and Belgian telecoms firm Proximus as partners. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a digital transformation in many public sector organisations, and Microsoft expects to use its “Cloud for Sovereignty” to better compete with rivals such as Amazon Web Services and Alphabet’s Google. The size of the global government cloud market is expected to reach $71.2 billion (roughly Rs. 5,69,400 crore) by 2027 from $27.6 billion (roughly Rs. 2,20,700 crore) in 2021, according to market research firm Imarc Group.
“We do expect customers around the world … but the first few customers have been in Europe,” corporate vice president Corey Sanders said in an interview, adding that the company is conducting private previews with customers.
The European Union has been at the forefront of privacy and security legislation and its privacy watchdog launched a probe earlier this year into the public sector’s use of cloud-based services to check if they comply with its privacy safeguards.
Both business and government customers increasingly use the data centres of big tech companies in the form of public clouds rather than building their own infrastructure.
Apart from latest tech capabilities and lower cost, Microsoft said its cloud product would fulfil obligations around data governance, security controls, privacy of citizens, data residency and other legal requirements.
The company is also working with other local partners to provide tailor-made clouds for local governments.
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced an increase in pricing for Office 365 and Microsoft 365 for nonprofit customers around the globe. The change will come into force from September 1, making Microsoft products up to 28 percent costlier for nonprofits globally. It will impact Microsoft Office 365 E1, Office 365 E3, and Office 365 E5 licence prices.
The updated pricing will also be applicable to Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 Business Premium. However, there will be no impact on any nonprofit offers available as a grant, according to the company. Despite the increase, Microsoft said that it would continue to provide nonprofits discounts of up to 75 percent on many other Microsoft 365 products.