Microsoft hasn’t really tried to hide one of its primary cloud strategies this year: courting retailers who are wary of Amazon. It added another such customer Friday, signing a multiyear deal with Gap.
The deal will see Microsoft Azure become Gap’s “primary cloud provider,” which generally leaves the door open for other cloud business but still counts as a win for Microsoft. Employees across Gap’s clothing brands including Old Navy and Banana Republic will also use Microsoft 365 as part of the deal.
It’s your classic “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategy, hoping to play on retailer concerns that it might not be in their best interest to fund the most profitable division of Amazon. Last year’s acquisition of Whole Foods spurred companies like Walmart and Target to work much more closely with Microsoft when it comes to their cloud operations, and others have followed suit since.
Of course, this tactic hasn’t really hurt the performance of Amazon Web Services, which continues to grow at a strong clip and commands far more of the cloud computing market than Microsoft. Still, Microsoft has made it pretty clear that the tried-and-true enterprise computing marketing strategy of sowing fear, uncertainty, and doubt among potential buyers overwhelmed with choices will be a key part of its effort to court new cloud customers.