As part of this expansion, Walmart is planning to move thousands of its internal apps to Azure, plus build some new cloud-native applications. Walmart officials say they are going to use Microsoft's Cognitive Services, machine learning and chat bot technologies.
Microsoft's Walmart win is worth noting for a few reasons.
First, it's an example of the type of customer that Microsoft is targeting by positioning itself as an alternative to Amazon -- which is both a cloud vendor and a competitor to other brick-and-mortar retailers.
The Walmart deal also gives me an opportunity to talk about Microsoft's redefinition of the word "partner."
Until a couple of years ago, when Microsoft officials talked about partners, they meant either reseller/integrator partners or they meant OEM/ISV partners. More recently, Microsoft uses the partner/partnership terms a lot more loosely. Some Microsoft customers are now "partners," too.
Microsoft's justification in calling customers partners seems to be that many times -- as in Walmart's case -- Microsoft engineers and managers end up working side-by-side with the company's customers' engineering and management teams. This actually isn't new; Microsoft has been embedding its own engineers and support people inside key customers' shops for years, maybe decades.
But Microsoft officials maintain that things are different this time.
"These are people that live with our customers beyond the deal to make sure that our cloud services actually get infused into business processes, that you don't have the cloud equivalent of shelfware in the software world. It's also been huge for us because the adoption and the actual utilization of the services has increased dramatically over the last year," he said.