I have often spoken and written about advantages and disadvantages of the major cloud service providers. There are technical and business considerations when evaluating the major providers, but we have seen increasing instances in which retailers choose Microsoft® or Google™ over AWS™, reportedly because they consider Amazon™ to be a competitor in the retail space. Gap© Corporation, which includes familiar names such as Old Navy™, Banana Republic™ and others, recently announced a five-year deal with Microsoft for Azure™ and the Microsoft 365™ package. This comes on the heels of a previous agreement which made Wal-Mart™ one of the largest users of Azure. The relationship between Wal-Mart and AWS has always been contentious, and Wal-Mart has even told some technology companies that if they want to do business with Wal-Mart, they may not have their applications hosted by AWS.
Wal-Mart approached Snowflake® Computing, a data-warehousing company, about handling their business, but insisted that Snowflake run the services on Azure. Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia worked at Microsoft for twenty years, but he left in 2011 after a rather public organizational disagreement with then-CEO, Steve Ballmer. We don’t know if that was a factor in Snowflake’s decision to use AWS prior to Wal-Mart’s insistence upon Azure, but Snowflake agreed to move from AWS to Azure to close the deal with Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has always kept its most sensitive data on their own servers, claiming that they’d rather not store it on a competitor’s platform, but as an increasing number of organizations embrace the cloud, we may see more retailers avoid AWS.
Microsoft isn’t the only cloud service provider to benefit from retail competition with Amazon. Target® had been using AWS, but as online retailing became more popular, they moved most of their business to the Google Cloud, citing a desire to stop funding their competitor as a primary reason.