Alibaba Cloud hires former Microsoft Bing researcher Zhou Jingren

Kareem Anderson

There was once a time when Microsoft and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba could have been cozy bedfellows. Back in mid-2008, there were murmurs of Microsoft pitching a bid to purchase Yahoo for some (at the time) undisclosed price. Later, Microsoft’s $45 billion bid was revealed and at the time, many analysts and journalists were left scratching their heads about the sum. As time went on, and Yahoo’s early stake in Alibaba began to float the stagnating internet company, it became apparent; Microsoft may have wanted more than just a big purple logo.

However, what’s done is done and despite the missed opportunity, Alibaba may yet still retain a bit of Microsoft influence.

A report from the MorningStar points to the hiring of a former Microsoft cloud specialist. Zhou Jingren. to head up its AliCloud service as the company seeks to expand its significant data processing and artificial intelligence portfolio.

At Microsoft, Jingren worked on the Bing search infrastructure team and big data unit that is still in place at the company. Jingren’s talents and background will now serve to develop and bolster AliClouds infrastructure to host its 500,000 and growing, paying customers.

With projections reaching into the multiple billions of dollars’ worth of demand for Chinese cloud-based services, AliCloud is looking to get ahead and differentiate by providing the best in big data storage, security, database management and computing services by tapping the mind from a former employee of one of the industry leaders.

Beyond providing cloud-based services to China, Alibaba may also be looking to compete in a more global arena against the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others to provide a truly international package of services.

As the cloud becomes one of the next hotly contested sectors of business, it’s becoming more pertinent for larger service providers to have a stake in cloud-based computing management tools. Alibaba’s move to hire and appoint former Microsoft Bing big data specialist Jingren, to head the expansion of its cloud infrastructure appears to be the beginning signs of just how competitive market cloud-based businesses will become.