Microsoft and Walmart team up for five year strategic deal
Walmart is making Microsoft its preferred cloud provider – with machine learning and artificial intelligence a key focus.
The two companies – both rivals of Amazon – have signed a five year strategic partnership deal with Walmart looking to utilise ‘the full range of Microsoft’s cloud solutions’, as the retailer put it.
A ‘significant portion’ of walmart.com and samsclub.com will be migrated to Azure, including its cloud-powered checkout, while Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate on moving hundreds of existing applications to cloud-native architectures.
The press materials included an interesting paragraph focusing on Walmart’s culture and how Microsoft will play within it. “Walmart continues to foster a curious, collaborative, accountable, and agile culture to position the company for further growth,” the company notes. “To do that, it’s critical to have tools that encourage those skills and traits.
“Through this partnership, Walmart is investing in its people with a phased rollout of Microsoft 365 providing associates with the productivity tools to foster a culture of collaboration, creativity and communication,” the company added.
All very good – but it is interesting to look at this deal from the perspective of where Amazon sits. Last year, it was reported that Walmart had told technology companies and vendors that if they ran apps on Amazon Web Services (AWS), they would lose business with the retailer. AWS and Microsoft, of course, are major rivals in the cloud infrastructure space.
“Walmart is a pioneering retailer, committed to empowering its employees and delivering the best experience for its customers wherever they are,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement. “The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and I’m thrilled to partner with Walmart to accelerate their digital transformation with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.”
Writing for this publication last year, David Auslander – who since the article was written now works for Azure’s customer advisory team – argued Microsoft and Google were potentially the only clear winners from Walmart’s declaration of war on AWS. “Microsoft has recently reported steady gains in [public cloud] market share, and most of that gain has come by way of taking share away from AWS,” Auslander wrote. “While AWS is a key part of Amazon’s empire there is still much speculation about the larger effect of this move on either Amazon or Walmart.”