India is a hotbed for battles between the world’s leading providers of cloud computing – Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. The fast-growing mobile internet, coupled with the boom in startups, makes this one of the most hotly contested markets.
Today, Microsoft scored a point in this battle. India’s leading ecommerce site Flipkart adopted Microsoft Azure as its exclusive public cloud platform. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Flipkart co-founder and CEO Binny Bansal announced the partnership this morning at an event in Bangalore.
The alliance has a touch of Indian masala because Amazon’s ecommerce site is giving Flipkart a hard time in India. The cloud deal with Microsoft may be unrelated – but it does bring to mind the saying that “your enemy’s enemy is your friend.”
Adoption of Microsoft Azure is the first step in the alliance. Flipkart plans to leverage artificial intelligence and analytics capabilities in Azure for business insights and personalized experiences to its customers.
“Combining Microsoft’s cloud platform and AI capabilities with Flipkart’s existing services and data assets will enable Flipkart to accelerate its digital transformation in ecommerce and deliver new customer experiences,” said Satya Nadella.
Microsoft set up local data centers a couple of years ago, to enhance and speed up its cloud services in India. Amazon followed suit last year. And Google has announced it will do the same this year. Local centers are far more efficient than relays from cloud data centers in Singapore.
Apart from ecommerce and other consumer internet companies like Flipkart, the growing band of Indian SaaS startups will welcome this competition to provide better cloud services. The fintech boom in the wake of demonetization and spurt in online payments will also provide a rapidly expanding market to cloud players.
While Amazon Web Services dominates the cloud market globally, as well as in India, Microsoft Azure has been catching up over the past year or so.
- This analysis includes the opinions of the author.