May 07 2012

Sears Bets Its Future on the Cloud

The Chicago retailer is using a subsidiary, MetaScale, to get into the cloud business.

After years of comfortable success, sometimes businesses have to pivot or perish. For Apple, this meant shifting from being a PC shop to expanding into mobile-device technology. Looking back, few could have predicted that Apple, rather than, say, Sony, would produce the most successful portable music player on the market.

Now Sears, best known for being a big-box retailer, is making a pivot of its own — to the cloud.

Through its MetaScale subsidiary, the Chicago-based company plans on opening a public cloud that other businesses will be able to rent for their own IT operations, reports Crain’s Chicago Business. If the move sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon made the same shift cloudward in 2006.

It would have been difficult to say with certainty back then that Amazon’s move was a good idea. But unlike Sears, Amazon has digital business in its blood. Also, Jeff Norman of CloudTweaks points out that Sears’ cloud offerings remain shrouded in mystery, so it’s hard to really gauge the potential service.

Can we expect other unconventional companies to enter the public-cloud business? Perhaps we’ll have a Pizza Hut Cloud, where users can order their cloud by the slice? Sounds tasty.