Mumbai: Digitisation initiatives in India and the work with digital public goods have been extraordinary, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said on Tuesday, as he highlighted cloud and artificial intelligence among imperatives driving technology-based economic growth in India.
By 2025, most applications will be built on cloud-native infrastructure, and nearly 90 per cent of digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, he said during a keynote address at the Microsoft Future Ready Leadership Summit here.
Sharing his vision for a tech-enabled India, he highlighted how the cloud will be foundational to scaling India's digital journey and how Microsoft is innovating across the tech stack to support the country's ecosystem of developers, startups and companies across every industry.
"Cloud is 70-80 per cent energy efficient on workload. You hedge against demand cycle, you consume it only when you need it. We are investing in 60-plus regions, 200-plus data centres worldwide. In India alone, we are expanding and setting our fourth region in Hyderabad. We want to make cloud available everywhere," he said.
He added that every factory, retail store, warehouse, and hospital will require distributed computing to generate data.
"Cloud has been a big game changer... cloud is in early-to-intermediate innings...," Nadella said and noted the "tremendous momentum in cloud adoption." According to research firm IDC, the overall Indian public cloud services market is expected to reach USD 13 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 23.1 per cent for 2021-26. The revenue totalled USD 2.8 billion for the first half of 2022.
Microsoft, he said, is focusing on six key aspects -- security, collaborative business process, re-energising workforce, migrating to the cloud, unifying data, and applying artificial intelligence (AI) models as platforms.
He used the example of the ChatGPT chatbot, which has recently gained notoriety, to illustrate what AI is actually capable of in terms of "unifying data and applying AI models as platforms." Microsoft believes that generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and Dall-E generated less than 1 per cent of the world's AI data sets in 2021 and can increase to 10 per cent of all data generated by AI by 2025.
"One of the things that is probably amazing to see is India is leading when it comes to digital public goods and digital infrastructure," said Nadella. "One of the things probably unbelievable, amazing, great to see is India lead, when it comes to digital public goods. The way India is building out public goods, is a completely enlightened way and it is a great example for everyone." Nadella is on a four-day official visit to India, where he will visit Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad to meet key customers, startups, developers, not-for-profit organisations and students.
This is the Hyderabad-born Indian-American's first visit to India since February 2020, and comes just two weeks after Alphabet Inc's India-born chief executive Sundar Pichai's trip to the country.
"One of the most fantastic things, even in this trip to India, I'm learning is looking right... not just what's happening in the top cities of the country, but across all the cities, and how digital is played," he added.
Nadella added there is a huge scope for growth in the cloud adoption market in India.
"Every factory, warehouse, hospital and retail facility is going to need computers where data is generated. So, distributed computing will remain distributed. And, with Azure arc, we're even making sure the cloud infrastructure gets truly embedded in the physical infrastructure," said Nadella.
Top cloud computing providers in India include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft's Azure.
Nadella also lauded the way in which India is building public infrastructure.
He said, "... we see tremendous momentum today, when it comes to cloud adoption. In fact, when I think about Microsoft Windows, in the client server era, we sold a few servers in the cloud. It's a completely different ballgame. But I look at every business in the cloud consumption." ".. We are adding a fourth region in Hyderabad as well. So we are very committed to making quality cloud infrastructure available everywhere," he added.
Nadella further said that energy efficiency will be one of the key components that will help economic growth in the future.
"... If you want to have economic growth going forward, you have to have an economic growth paradigm that doesn't consume energy at the rate at which we consume. And that's sort of going to be, I think, one of the key things to keep in the context of India and India's growth," Nadella said.
Talking about automation, he said, the next big thing is artificial intelligence.
"So the first thing though, you have to really build a robust data infrastructure, ... you can not benefit from a lot of AI if you don't have robust data infrastructure, and that's where we invest in," Nadella added.
On India becoming the third largest economy by the end of the decade, Nadella said, Github -- which is a place to see what is happening with developers worldwide, the growing AI projects and upskilling are the three things that are positive for the country.
"What is most important in the labour force is constantly updating the skill and taking pride in it and the market forces rewarding it. That's magic when education is more continuous. I think these are three things that make me very optimistic about India," he noted.