Amazon.com may be the 800-pound gorilla in retail, but Walmart and Microsoft aren't afraid of a fight.
At Microsoft's Inspire partner conference, the companies announced a five-year strategic partnership in which the retailer will use Microsoft's cloud services across a wide range of its functions to drive innovation.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the companies' shred rivalry with Amazon “is absolutely core to this.”
“How do we get more leverage as two organizations that have depth and breadth and investment to be able to outrun our respective competition,” Nadella says.
Under the deal, Walmart will use Microsoft's cloud services "to power functions that could include algorithms for purchasing and sales-data sharing with vendors," the Journal reports.
A statement released by Microsoft and Walmart provides further detail on the cloud efforts. Walmart will use the full range of Microsoft cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 across its entire enterprise to help standardize across the company’s family of brands.
Engineers from both companies "will collaborate on the assessment, development, and support phase of moving hundreds of existing applications" to cloud-native architectures, the statement says.
"For example, to grow and enhance the online experience, the company will migrate a significant portion of walmart.com and samsclub.com to Azure, including its cloud-powered check-out," which will enable Walmart to "grow with rising customer demand and reach more global markets than ever before."
Azure will not only help Walmart boost site availability and speed online, as well as provide the ability to quickly and seamlessly launch new features. More than that, Walmart and Microsoft say the retailer will benefit from using Azure across its entire footprint, including "connected HVAC and refrigeration units to reduce energy usage in thousands of U.S. stores or applying machine learning when routing thousands of trucks in the supply chain."
And through a phased rollout of Microsoft 365, Walmart hopes to give its workers "the productivity tools to foster a culture of collaboration, creativity and communication."