Microsoft & Flipkart announced Cloud Partnership in India


Speaking on the stage of a Microsoft AI conference in Bengaluru on Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Flipkart co-founder and CEO Binny Bansal announced that the two companies are going to be partners on the cloud – Flipkart will exclusively be using Microsoft Azure as its public cloud, Nadella said.

“In the last 12 months, 2,000 startups have started using our cloud, and now we are launching a strategic partnership with Flipkart,” said Nadella. “I have always admired Flipkart for the work it’s done in e-commerce, and is now doing in payments and logistics, and 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 e-commerce.”

“Given Microsoft’s strong reputation in cloud computing, coupled with scale and reliability, this partnership allows us to make online shopping more relevant and enriching for customers,” Bansal added.

Flipkart, which recently crossed the 100-million customer milestone, has a 10-year plan ahead, Bansal revealed. “We have to keep the next ten years in mind, and scale up to 500 million customers.”

Amazon started Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2003 after experiencing the need for cloud services first hand and then estimating the scope that the sector had. At an event in Bengaluru in 2016, Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, had noted that though Amazon was a technology company at heart it ventured into the services space with AWS without much fanfare. He said, “But it really changed the way we thought about development.”

To this end, Nadella added that artificial intelligence and machine learning are key to transforming business, and Bansal talked about how it can be used by Flipkart. Microsoft Azure will add cloud technologies and analytics to Flipkart’s existing data centers, and its global scale will allow for continued growth and expansion, as needed.

“Using AI and platform technology from Microsoft, we can improve the experience for customers,” Bansal said, adding, “with things like better recommendations. There are other very interesting applications. Take fashion. At myntra, we have a label called Moda Rapido which is run by engineers. It was created without fashion designers”. “Instead, it is data analysis based design, it looks at what people are interested in and based on that comes up with a line that people would buy,” he explained.

Apart from this, he says, AI, machine learning and big data are also of relevance for business intelligence. “We have 20,000 to 25,000 people on our supply chain daily, and they are making decisions on the logistics with far reaching impact,” said Bansal. “How can we enable them to make better decisions, and better optimize? That’s where AI can play a role already.”

Flipkart then had relatively glitch-free Big Billion Day sales in the subsequent years. Now, rather than continuing investing in its own infrastructure, Flipkart seems to have partnered with an enemy of its enemy, Microsoft, by taking its business to Microsoft Azure.