That flexibility is the reason Ford's IT executives chose Azure, instead of another cloud provider, like IBM, Google or Amazon Web Services (AWS).
"We wouldn't have had that kind of flexibility with AWS or Google," Butler noted. "You use their cloud as they constructed them. With Azure, we've constructed and architected our own service delivery network, and Azure is a component of that network. It gives us the ability to have a solution that bridges their public cloud and our own private cloud. Azure is the plumbing that connects the two clouds."
Ford also had already worked with Microsoft on its in-vehicle software, so the Redmond, Wash., company came to the cloud job with an understanding of the automaker's vision and needs.
"It's important to work with a partner that understands the environment you're trying to operate in," Butler said. "Microsoft had that."
Kerravala said he's a little surprised that Ford selected Microsoft. "I think Azure versus AWS versus Google is really in the preference of the customer," he added. "I think most people think of Amazon as being the de facto standard of the cloud, but Azure is a solid choice, too. Azure has Microsoft support behind it and may prove to be easier to grow long term because of that."
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said it makes sense for Ford to stick with Microsoft since they have a history of working together.
"As far as picking Microsoft, Ford and Microsoft have been collaborating for a long time," he noted. "And Azure is a good platform for managing digital assets on a network. Here, it's really two things -- the Azure fabric, which is a software services platform, and the Azure service, which is Microsoft's hosted version of the platform. Both make sense here."
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