Microsoft, Airtel inks pact to offer software solutions

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New Delhi, Nov 12: Microsoft and Bharti Airtel, today entered into a strategic partnership to offer a range of software and services to 6.5 million small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India.

The partnership will begin by offering Microsoft solutions to SMBs for hosted messaging and collaboration. It will also offer other hosted applications like CRM, accounting, ERP, unified communications and select Microsoft ISV applications.

In a unique software cum service solution model, Airtel is working in close cooperation with Microsoft to provide enterprise-class software bundled with connectivity solutions to small businesses that do not have dedicated IT resources.

This service is predominantly aimed at companies with five or more employees, and is expected to be available in January 2007, a company statement said.

''SMB vertical in India have huge potential and offer an exciting opportunity for Bharti. We estimate total telecom spend in the SMB space to be around Rs 18,000 crore. IDC estimates that IT spending by SMBs would grow by 17 per cent which is the highest in Asia Pacific region,'' Bharti Enterprises Viec Chairman Rakesh Bharti Mittal said.

With integrated capabilities across wire-line, wireless, data and managed services, we are in a unique position to be the preferred partner to provide telecom and networking solutions to this segment, Mr Mittal added.

''Microsoft will enjoy working with Bharti to deliver advanced, enterprise-class features once reserved only for corporations with extensive IT budgets,'' Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, adding that small and medium businesses will be able to see the benefits of this solution very quickly.

The new professional messaging and collaboration service will give small businesses the ability to access secure enterprise grade e-mail, secure instant messaging and intranet portals with rich collaboration capabilities.


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