US retail giant Walmart has turned to Microsoft to aid its digital transformation.
The two companies unveiled a strategic partnership this week which will give the retailer access to a broad base of Microsoft technology across cloud, AI and IoT over a five year period.
Walmart is already using Microsoft services for critical applications and workloads and will now leverage Microsoft 365 and the Azure cloud.
As part of the partnership, Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate on the assessment, development, and support phase of moving hundreds of existing applications to cloud native architectures.
The company will migrate a significant portion of walmart.com and samsclub.com to Azure, including its cloud-powered check-out. Walmart’s $3.3 billion acquisition Jet.com was built entirely on Microsoft Azure.
Large US retailers including Walmart and Target have opted not to use Amazon Web Services for cloud infrastructure, which would effectively mean they were putting money into the pockets of rival Amazon.com.
Locally, AWS says it hasn’t received any push back from Australian retailers since the company started ramping up its operations in December 2016.
Walmart plans to build a global IoT platform on Azure – from connected HVAC and refrigeration units to reduce energy usage in thousands of US stores or applying machine learning when routing thousands of trucks in the supply chain.
Microsoft 365 will be used across the company to provide “associates with the productivity tools to foster a culture of collaboration, creativity and communication.”
A spokesperson for Walmart said the partnership would allow it to innovate faster. “Walmart is a people led, tech empowered company, and we’re excited about what this technology partnership will bring for our customers and associates. 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.”
Microsoft’s most recent financial results were bolstered by the strong growth in its cloud computing business.