Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Google partners with Airtel to offer G Suite to small, medium businesses

  • Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian says the combination of G Suite with Airtel will help accelerate digital innovations for Indian businesses
  • The move follows a series of enterprise partnerships announced by rivals Reliance Jio and Microsoft

MUMBAI : Telecom operator Bharti Airtel and Google Cloud on Monday announced a partnership offer G Suite to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) in India as part of its integrated information and communication technology portfolio. G Suite is a set of intelligent apps-Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar and more-designed with real-time collaboration and machine intelligence to bring people together and help them work smarter and safer.

Global cloud service providers have been tapping into partnerships with Indian enterprises to tap into the fast growing demand for digital services in the country.

This latest agreement will provide a platform for both companies to tap growth opportunities in India, which ranks amongst the fastest growing economies and has the second highest number of internet users in the world. Airtel serves over 2,500 large businesses and over 500,000 SMBs and technology startups across India.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel said, "Airtel and Google Cloud have a shared vision of delighting customers with great products. India, with its growing economy and adoption of digital services, offers one of the biggest opportunities to serve customers with innovative solutions."

In August 2019, Airtel’s biggest telecom rival Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio announced a 10-year deal with Microsoft to help the operator set up a network of large data centers across India. The tech giant will deploy Azure cloud platform in these centers to support offerings. The initial two data centres, which would house IT equipment consuming up to 7.5 MW of power, were being set up in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and were set to be operational within 2020.

Jio had announced that it will also provide the combined cloud-Microsoft app infrastructure free of cost to start-ups and for a monthly fee of Rs1,500 to the ministry of micro, small, and medium enterprises. Note that Airtel offers Google potential access to over 2,500 large enterprises and over 5,000 small enterprises through this partnership. Traditionally, Microsoft has a large enterprise presence in the country. Whereas, Google has a presence in B2C market thanks to the prevalence of Android smartphones.

“The combination of G Suite's collaboration and productivity tools with Airtel's digital business offerings will help accelerate digital innovations for thousands of Indian businesses," said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud.

These partnerships help the telcos extend their rivalry to the enterprise data center business already populated by the likes of Google, Amazon Web Services, Netmagic, and CtrlS, among other data center service providers in the country. The introduction of goods and services tax (GST), in 2017, and subsequent digital identity it gave to businesses across the country through the GST number has paved the way for technology providers to tap into this market further.

Enabling digital transformation of Indian businesses India is currently witnessing a rapid adoption of digital services. Indian businesses are embracing digital tools and cloud based solutions to enhance agility and efficiency, and serve the evolving requirements of their customers. As per a recent report by NASSCOM, by 2022 the Indian cloud market could cross $7 billion and Indian Software as a Service (SaaS) market could top the $3.5 billion mark.

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