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Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers sign cloud deal with Microsoft rival Amazon Web Services

Imagine Lakers legend Kobe Bryant selling season tickets for the Los Angeles Clippers.

That’s a little bit like what happened this morning in Los Angeles, after Amazon Web Services announced it has signed a cloud-computing deal with the Clippers, owned by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The deal covers Clippers CourtVision, an augmented reality experience available to some Clippers fans watching the games that was developed by a Ballmer-backed startup called Second Spectrum.

Like a lot of video-oriented startups, Second Spectrum has been using AWS Elemental for cloud-based video processing and delivery, according to a press release. The CourtVision service will also use other AWS services to collect and analyze data such as a player’s movement on the court, or to assess the probability of a sweet jumper from Lou Williams hitting the bottom of the net.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Ballmer acknowledged the elephant in the room. “Do I bleed Microsoft? Of course I bleed Microsoft. But Amazon has done a nice job,” he said.

AWS enjoys a big lead in the market for cloud computing services but Microsoft has emerged as a strong second-place player over the last few years as the overall market continues to grow by large margins. Ballmer is still one of the largest shareholder in Microsoft, of course, so the decision-making process must have been a little weird for him. During his tenure as CEO, Microsoft created Azure and began shifting Office customers over to the Office 365 software-as-a-service.

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