Open-source software has been particularly popular in cloud environments for the way it allows users to escape commercial software licensing fees, King pointed out.
"I think this is a great move by Walmart," said Al Hilwa, a program director with IDC. "These technologies that provide de-coupling from specific clouds can themselves generate lock-in, and it is strategically preferable to have them in open source."
As a retailer, Walmart competes with Amazon but lacks its own cloud to manage the seasonal ups and downs typical in retail. That, in fact, was an integral part of Amazon's own rationale for entering the cloud business to begin with years ago, Hilwa pointed out.
"I think retailers wanting to compete online have to effectively become cloud providers," he said, "with all that is implied in terms of software engineering, competency and IP control."
Walmart's shares tumbled on Wednesday following its unexpected prediction that per-share profits will decline by between 6 percent and 12 percent in fiscal 2017, which starts in February.
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