Summary:

In its push to get traction for Windows Azure as a platform for cloud services, Microsoft is opening an Azure accelerator in Bangalore. The goal is to find and help startups across India and Southeast Asia — and get them aboard the Microsoft PaaS.

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In its push to get traction for Windows Azure as a development-and-deployment platform for cloud services, Microsoft is opening an Azure accelerator in its Bangalore office. The goal is to help the company find and help startups across India and Southeast Asia — and get them aboard Azure, Microsoft’s platform as a service. The center will also serve European startups. And, more accelerators will come, Microsoft said.

Microsoft Windows Azure is behind the eight-ball  — while it claims thousands of new users every month, it lags Amazon Web Services in adoption. By far. While AWS is infrastructure as a service (IaaS), it also offers some PaaS capabilities. And, over the past few years, Amazon has evolved into the development platform of choice for many startups that are able to spin up and down compute instances fast and cheap to build their products. In addition,  in-house developers at big companies also use Amazon services to quickly build and test new software, often using their own credit cards to fund that work. For that reason, Microsoft is adding more incremental IaaS functions to Azure.

Luring developers with credit and perks

For the new Indian effort, Microsoft is inviting startups working on Azure applications to apply to the accelerator before July 1.  Starting September 3, the selected companies will be enrolled in Microsoft’s BizSpark program, which comes with $60,000 in Azure credits, and get workspace in Bangalore and access to Microsoft resources.

Microsoft opted for India because of the entrepreneurial ethos there.  Said Amit Chatterjee, managing director of Microsoft India R&D via email:

India has a great start-up culture. It has over 5 million developers, a large domestic market, large venture capital available and a fast growing angel investment community. All these factors are driving a vibrant startup ecosystem that is focused on both the India and global market, and demonstrating an increasing maturity in building product companies. We believe these new breed of entrepreneurs will benefit immensely from our Accelerator.

Microsoft takes on Amazon, Google for developers

To bolster Azure and to combat Amazon as well as Google, which pitches Google App Engine as a development platform, Microsoft has turned up the volume on its startup recruitment efforts in the U.S. and, as we now see, abroad. In March, Microsoft opened a similar facility in Israel. Stacey wrote about some Microsoft’s startup efforts early this year. The company has also  been active in the Boston area, hosting seminars and other start-up focused events at its Cambridge, Mass., New England Research and Development center (NERD), for example.

We’ll probably hear a lot more about Microsoft’s Azure plans at GigaOM’s Structure conference next month, when Derrick Harris sits down to talk with Microsoft Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella.

Jockeying for developers and startups by Microsoft, Google and Amazon for their respective cloud services will reach a fever pitch in the coming months.  Google kicks off its Google I/O Conference in June;  the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference  comes to Toronto in July; and Amazon launches its inaugural developer conference in November. Stay tuned.

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