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Walmart names Microsoft its strategic cloud provider

Walmart and Microsoft are deepening their alliance to gain a leg up in their battle against Amazon.

Walmart and has entered into a five year agreement with its long-time partner, Microsoft. In addition to naming Microsoft as its preferred and strategic cloud provider, the deal enables the discount giant to tap into the technology company’s full range of cloud solutions.

Walmart already uses Microsoft services for critical applications and workloads. However, the new agreement gives Walmart access to a broad set of cloud innovation projects that leverage machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data platform solutions for a wide range of external customer-facing services and internal business applications. Overall, the move will accelerate Walmart’s digital transformation in retail, empower its associates worldwide, and make shopping faster and easier for its millions of customers around the world, according to the company.

One of the first projects will be the migration of a significant portion of and operations to Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform Azure. The move will support cloud-powered check-out, and enable the retailer to scale with increasing customer demand across global markets, Walmart said.

“Whether it’s combined with our agile cloud platform or leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to work smarter, we believe Microsoft will be a strong partner in driving our ability to innovate even further and faster,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO.

Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate on the assessment, development, and support phase of moving hundreds of existing applications to cloud-native architectures. Once applied, Microsoft’s computing capacity will give Walmart the ability to seamlessly manage workloads in an elastic environment, and leverage expanded access to new toolsets to innovate faster. Driving a more cloud-native environment will also help the discounter to manage costs, according to the company.

The expanded partnership directly takes on Amazon Web Services, the online giant’s cloud computing business. The division hit $5.4 billion in sales for the first quarter of 2018, ended March 31.

This is not the first strike Walmart has made at Amazon’s cloud business. Last year, the discounter warned some of its technology supplier partners to stop running cloud apps on AWS if they wanted to continue doing business with Walmart.
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