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A Big Cloud Win for Microsoft as it Takes Land O' Lakes From Google

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A Big Cloud Win for Microsoft as it Takes Land O' Lakes From Google

July 20, 2016
By Steve Anderson
Contributing Writer

Microsoft (News - Alert) recently put up a case study about Land O' Lakes, a $13 billion company perhaps best known for its butter, but also known for its extensive work in agriculture and similar issues. Land O' Lakes owns an agricultural technology firm known as WinField, and, recently, it was found that WinField is moving its R7 app to Microsoft Azure, a move that takes Land O' Lakes at least somewhat out of Google (News - Alert)'s camp and puts it squarely into Microsoft's.

It's the stuff that sales legends are built on, a moment that makes Tommy Callahan selling Ray Zalinsky the right quantity of brake pads to save Callahan Auto look like a kid buying bubblegum. Not only is WinField moving the R7 app, which takes a wide variety of data points about agronomic research, weather data and others and puts it all on a mobile device for users to make planting decisions, to Windows, but it's also changing its mobile device of choice. WinField is moving R7 to Surface tablets, issued to Land O' Lakes employees, and there's also a move on to Office 365 as well, based on word from Land O' Lakes chief information officer Mike Macrie.

Some parts of the operation will remain status quo, reports note; the servers handling Land O' Lakes' Oracle (News - Alert) databases will remain in house, and though the company's also using a bit of Amazon Web Services' (AWS) operations, Macrie didn't consider AWS to be “a major cloud vendor.” Yet over 2,000 Windows and Linux servers will be part of the two cloud systems involved.

Google seems less than concerned, its head of cloud computing Diane Greene noting that Google is taking business from both Microsoft and AWS when deals go out to bid, but some question whether Google's even being invited to bid on some jobs. After all, Microsoft has name recognition that goes back to before Google even existed, and deals like Boeing (News - Alert) and GE aren't going to Mountain View, but rather to Redmond.

It's not that there's not plenty of market out there for both, or even for other entrants into the field. Reports suggest the cloud computing market will be worth around $141 billion by 2019, and a company that has less than 1 percent market share in a market like that is still potentially a nine-figure operation. Seeing Microsoft take advantage of its name recognition in a growing market is a perfectly rational step, and the kind of thing that can really light a fire under a new market initiative. 

That Microsoft is winning business from Google even as Google is winning business from it suggests a very dynamic market, one where some big names may not be quite so big any longer, or even bigger than they once were. The cloud computing market is a changing place and the Land O' Lakes move drives that point soundly home.

Edited by Alicia Young

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