The buzz on Microsoft coming to Technopark

The internet is abuzz with news about Microsoft setting up shop in Technopark’s upcoming Phase Three. They quote an unnamed top official in the IT Department, who has said to news agency IANS, that “preliminary reports suggest that they (Microsoft) are serious” about the venture. By the looks of it, the deal is still in the very early stages, with officials in Technopark, refusing to confirm or deny the rumours, saying that “it’s the government’s decision.” Nonetheless, the excitement among techies, IT entrepreneurs and industry watchers is palpable, with many of them effusive about the (supposed) deal in their conversations, blogs, posts and/or tweets.

“If Microsoft does come, it will be great for the State, for the IT industry, for Technopark, and of course, it will show much the city has grown as an IT destination. Overall it seems to be a rosy picture,” says techie Divas Sadasivan. His friend and techie Sreehari Narayanan adds: “My first reaction upon hearing the rumour was pride – that Kerala and the city has achieved so much.” Anoop Ambika, chief executive officer, Kreara Solutions, and secretary, GTech, speaks for almost everyone when he opines: “For sure it will lead to a whole lot more jobs. And because product-based and innovation-based companies such as Microsoft tend to be recession proof, there would always be a certain amount of job security.”

Anoop also says that Microsoft will give direct and healthy competition to the strong open source software movement in Kerala. Agreeing with him, Sanjay Vijaykumar, CEO, Mobme, explains: “The movement will have competition at its doorstep, which is always great. In my opinion, this will make the open source movement in Kerala stronger.”

Social development blogger Ajay Prasad, who has been keenly following the development of Technopark from its nascent stage, reels off his thoughts via email: “Microsoft’s entry will act as an endorsement of the city moving from a tier two to a tier one IT destination, because it will be the fourth global top 10 technology firm and second global top five product firms to set up here. It will attract more United States companies to the city because they generally tend to look to firms such as Oracle, IBM, Accenture, Microsoft and so on to act as bell weathers. It will elevate the profile of the city as destination of choice for IT professionals, especially those at the mid and senior-levels. Microsoft being a product and innovation company will further strengthen the knowledge ecosystem in the city, which consists of both technology firms as well as institutions such as ISRO, IIST, IISER, RGCB, CDAC, and so on.”

That said, Microsoft is, apparently, starting with a small facility that will focus on cloud computing and also provide training to specialist personnel. Whether they will elevate it to a full scale research and development facility such as they have in Hyderabad is even more debatable.

However, there are many who raise concerns too, especially regarding its impact on small and medium companies in Technopark. “If Microsoft does start a research and development centre, many such companies would face a crunch in resource personnel, given that the corporation is a known paymaster. There are only so many people with three to five year experience in the industry that they can choose from,” says Anoop, who pegs the number of such experienced personnel in Kerala at only one lakh. Divas adds: “I feel that the biggest challenge will be sustenance of the employment opportunities. We also have to look into how we are going to ensure quality workforce. And that depends on supporting infrastructure in the city, which can mean anything from good roads leading to Technopark to a stable political situation.”

For the moment, though, they say it’s celebration time. What next? Google? Bring it on!

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