Walmart Powers Up Hybrid Cloud

Image credit: iStockphoto/Sundry Photography

U.S. retail giant Walmart now can save millions of dollars by switching between its servers and several cloud providers.

The retailer told the Wall Street Journal it had used its servers and software to deploy one of the largest hybrid clouds in current use, leveraging platforms from Microsoft and Google and its internal server network.  

"The hybrid cloud allows us to be able to draw the best that the public cloud providers can offer and to be able to combine that with something that is really purpose-built for us," said Walmart’s global chief technology officer Suresh Kumar.

For the past two years, the company has been building out a network of servers at Walmart stores and in its distribution facilities.

The company said it now has 10,000 of what it refers to as its edge nodes across the U.S. Walmart has also built custom software that allows it to run its back-end operations across any cloud system.

In 2017, Walmart told some enterprise software vendors that if they wanted Walmart's business, they couldn't run their product on retail rival’s Amazon cloud and suggested Microsoft as an alternative, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In 2018, Walmart signed a five-year cloud technology deal with Microsoft. Walmart's rivalry with Amazon was "absolutely core to this," Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella said in an interview with the Journal at the time.

Even though Walmart ramped up investment in its server network, Kumar insisted that Walmart maintain "long-term strategic partnerships" with Microsoft and Google.

As Walmart continues to invest in its technology and this hybrid cloud, the company is looking at opportunities to sell its technology to outsiders. Still, it isn't focused on renting out its server infrastructure to potential customers.

Image credit: iStockphoto/Sundry Photography