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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Flipkart Group CEO Binny Bansal announced the exclusive cloud partnership today at an event in India. (Flipkart Photo)

Flipkart, the top online marketplace in India, has agreed to adopt Microsoft Azure as its exclusive public cloud platform, augmenting its own data centers with the Redmond company’s technologies as it tries to fend off an aggressive push by Amazon’s e-commerce business in the country.

It’s the first step in what the companies are calling a broader strategic partnership. The deal was announced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Flipkart Group co-founder and CEO Binny Bansal at an event in India this morning. Microsoft and Flipkart say they will start with computing infrastructure and “ultimately add a layer of advanced cloud technologies and analytics to Flipkart’s existing data centers.”

Nadella, a native of Hyderabad, India, said at the event that he’s “always been an admirer of what Flipkart has done,” starting with e-commerce and moving into other areas such as logistics. Watch an archived video from the event below.

It’s a significant customer win for Microsoft in the public cloud battle against Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and others.

It’s not clear if AWS was a serious contender for the Flipkart cloud business, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Amazon’s cloud division to support companies that compete with other parts of Amazon’s business. (Netflix is a high-profile example.) Amazon has vowed to spend $5 billion to build its business in India, and the company opened a new AWS region in Mumbai last year, its first in the country.

Microsoft has three existing Azure regions in the country.

Describing the Flipkart partnership, Nadella said in a statement, “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 and deliver new customer experiences.”

Bansal added that the partnership “allows us to leverage our combined strength and knowledge of technology, e-commerce and markets to make online shopping more relevant and enriching for customers.”

Flipkart moved its data centers in house a few years ago, and was reported at the time to be considering offering cloud services to third parties in the same way that Microsoft and Amazon do with their public cloud platforms.

Microsoft said Flipkart “plans to use the artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics capabilities in Azure, such as Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI, to optimize its data for innovative merchandising, advertising, marketing and customer service.”

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