Trouble in the cloud – Wal-Mart demands suppliers ditch AWS

The Walmart logo in a cloud, with raindrops containing the Amazon Web Services logo

Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When Amazon announced their acquisition of the Whole Foods Market chain, everyone knew that there would be repercussions throughout the supermarket industry. Indeed, Wal-Mart has already fired the first shot back – but perhaps not in the way expected.

Reports suggest that Wal-Mart has been “asking” many of their technical partners to adjust their cloud strategies. Vendors, developers and other tech partners are being encouraged to ditch the Amazon Web Services cloud platform in favour of Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure.

Not as petty as it sounds

Although Wal-Mart’s demands may sound like a petty attempt to punish Amazon for entering “their” market, there is actually some interesting logic behind the move. An article published in the Wall Street Journal contains a quote from Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Toporek.

“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.”

Obviously Amazon will be hurt should enough Wal-Mart suppliers defect, but the move does make sense on a strategic level.

The question of data sovereignty

Typically CIOs think of data sovereignty in terms of which country there data is stored in when pushed to the cloud. The collapse of the Trans-Atlantic Safe Harbor Agreement is one such example where sovereignty became a major issue for operations.

But what of cloud services operated by your competitors? Or those of your customers? Arguably there is a conflict of interest that will undoubtedly worry the C-suite and shareholders.

Azure or bust?

Obviously Wal-Mart are suggesting that suppliers and partners invested in the cloud migrate operations to Azure. But what happens if another customer demands they use yet another platform? Are they expected to maintain multiple identical infrastructures according to each client’s preferences?

The cost and administrative overheads of such an environment would be incredibly complicated – and poor value for money. Which means trying to identify a third way.

SDS to the rescue. Again.

One acceptable solution would be the deployment of software defined storage (SDS) in-house. SDS provides cloud-like flexibility and demand-driven resource allocation, supporting the changing demands of the modern enterprise. More importantly still, your business retains full control of the system and the data stored in it, so it will never be exposed to a competitor.

Taking this approach avoids political issues and saves the cost and hassle of moving established cloud platforms repeatedly. And SDS is a great option for any company keen to do business with Wal-Mart moving forward.

For more help and advice about using your existing storage assets as part of an SDS deployment, please give us a call.