Microsoft has just signed a contract with the Indian government to run its cloud on a huge education network.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) signed the contract for Redmond’s Live@edu cloud service, which will be used by 7 million students and nearly 500,000 staff members in the coming months.
As far as Microsoft is concerned, this would make the Indian government agency its biggest cloud customer.
In a joint statement, Microsoft said that the cloud deployment would provide students with access to “high-quality” technical education and collaboration.
The rollout will take place over the next three months and be completed in September, and the service will be made available to more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes throughout India.
The upside for Microsoft is that the AICTE also plans to deploy Office 365 when it becomes available in the country later this year.
AICTE is the governing body for technical education in India, and is part of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development but what makes the deal unusual is that Indian has been getting rather concerned about foreign spying.
The government has already banned mobile phones from China fearing that these might have snooping chips on board.
For some reason, the Indian government forgot that since the US Patriot Act came out, all US companies have to turn over any data they acquire, even if this is stored off-shore, to the CIA or Homeland Security.
True, this has not been attempted yet, but many security experts think it is only a matter of time.
If the CIA was to monitor Microsoft’s cloud in India, it could sniff out plans fairly easily. All fairly unlikely, but then it was equally unlikely that Chinese spooks would stick snooping chips into cheap mobile phones.