Microsoft sees Alibaba as third rival in Indian cloud market

Global technology giant Microsoft says Chinese internet firm Alibaba could become its third competitor in the cloud business in India, unlike in the western markets where it has to battle Google and Amazon Web Services.

“I think if you were to, maybe, go to the A-Pac (Asia-Pacific) region... instead of putting Google on that third slot, you would probably be asking me about [Alibaba]. If you went to Africa — certainly in China, increasingly in India and across Asia — you probably see Alibaba has a different view of using outside of China,” said Amy Hood, CFO, Microsoft Corporation, addressing analysts at the Wells Fargo Tech Summit 2017 on Tuesday.

Microsoft, led by India-born CEO Satya Nadella, has been aggressive on its Azure cloud services offering in India. Last month, it signed cab-hailing platform Ola to use its Azure cloud services to shape driver and customer experience on the platform. Ola Play customers will be able to use productivity tools such as Office 365 and Skype for Business during the rides, said the firm.

Microsoft has recently picked up stakes in Indian e-commerce major Flipkart to help it take on Amazon. The Seattle-based software firm has also tied up with a number of government and educational institutions to take their services to a larger audience in the country.

Hood said that structurally, Microsoft had done a good job on aggressive investments as well as carved a niche for itself in cloud services with a hybrid model. Alibaba forayed into the Indian ecosystem with $5-billion investment in Snapdeal in 2015. This was followed up by a $2-billion investment in Paytm E-commerce and a huge stake in Paytm’s parent, One97, earlier this year.

Alibaba and Paytm are together eyeing stakes in online grocery platform BigBasket now as Amazon builds up its resources for a similar venture. But it was Alibaba’s foray into the cloud business in India that caught Microsoft’s attention as that is an area where Amazon, Google and Microsoft are all battling for supremacy.

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