Cloud

Walmart forces tech partners to leave AWS, following Whole Foods acquisition

Walmart is requiring that some of its tech vendors to move their hosted apps off of AWS, which a spokesperson called a 'competitive platform.'

Walmart is requiring that some of its tech partners and vendors no longer host their applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to a Wall Street Journal report published Wednesday. The news comes shortly after Amazon announced its intentions to acquire grocery chain Whole Foods.

According to the report, Walmart typically stores its data on premises, or uses other cloud services such as Microsoft Azure. The total number of apps Walmart is using that are running on AWS wasn't mentioned, but Walmart spokesman Dan Toporek said that the company is pushing for the vendors to host elsewhere.

"It shouldn't be a big surprise that there are cases in which we'd prefer our most sensitive data isn't sitting on a competitor's platform," Toporek said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He went on to note that only a "small number" of vendors had been approached about moving off of AWS.

SEE: Special report: The cloud v. data center decision (free PDF)

In one example, Snowflake Computing now has to host certain services on Azure after it was approached by a Walmart client, the report said. In addition to Walmart, other retailers have also asked their partners not to use AWS, the report said.

Forrester Research principal analyst Dave Bartoletti said that he has heard from a segment of the retail market that have expressed concern about funding Amazon and its affiliates. However, he said, most of these concerns come from consumer goods retailers that are already in competition with Amazon. Many others in the retail space view Amazon as a strong parter.

"It's no surprise that Walmart pressures suppliers, but I think that's okay, too, since software vendors should be available on as many public cloud platforms as possible," Bartoletti said. "Azure is certainly a viable and aggressive number 2 in the public cloud market and it's in every software vendor's best interest to be available on both cloud platforms."

Walmart has been growing increasingly digital in recent years, contributing resources to open source projects and cloud efforts as well. As such, Walmart has also been competing with Amazon in the cloud for quite some time.

Now, Amazon is continuing to target physical retail, which raises the stakes. In addition to Amazon's Go grocery store and its physical book store in NYC, the addition of Whole Foods' brick-and-mortar operation brings the firm's battle with Walmart to a new plane.

Walmart started as a physical retail giant that has since migrated to digital to keep up with the needs of modern consumers. Amazon was born in the cloud, but has slowly moved toward physical retail in hopes of capturing some of the $20 billion-plus worth of sales in that industry. This isn't the last we'll see of the war between Amazon and Walmart for market dominance.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Walmart is requiring that some of its tech partners move their apps off of Amazon Web Services.
  2. Walmart relies on Microsoft Azure and on-premises data centers to host its data.
  3. Amazon and Walmart are competing in the cloud, but also in physical retail, especially with Amazon's planned acquisition of Whole Foods.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/Wolterk

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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