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Why Volkswagen chose Microsoft Azure over AWS



Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess (not pictured) attend a session during their visit to Volkswagen Digital Lab in Berlin on Feb. 27, 2019.

Microsoft has plenty of experience in the auto industry, beyond Volkswagen. The company has highlighted Aston Martin, Honda, Mazda and the Renault-Nissan Alliance as Azure customers, and Nadella said in a 2016 interview with the Wall Street Journal that Daimler, BMW, Ford and Toyota are “significant customers of ours.”

“I’m very thrilled about all the car companies using Azure today,” Satya Nadella said in the interview.

Microsoft doesn’t break out Azure revenue, but analysts at Morgan Stanley estimate that it accounted for almost 10 percent of sales in the latest quarter. Jay Vleeschhouwer, an analyst at Griffin Securities, predicts revenue of $16 billion in 2019, which would represent 12.6 percent of total sales at Microsoft. That would make it less than half the size of AWS, which will grow to $35 billion this year, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet.

“At some point, perhaps the car cockpit could be a new battleground,” said Vleeschhouwer, who has a “buy” rating on Microsoft and doesn’t cover Amazon. He envisions voice assistants in the car — “‘Alexa, take me home,’ that kind of thing.”

While Volkswagen is pushing workloads to Microsoft, AWS has a sizable auto business of its own, with BMW, Audi and the Toyota Research Institute all listed as customers. And a Volkswagen employee spoke about the company’s use of Amazon’s cloud at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas in November.

In an emailed statement, an AWS spokesperson said that in addition to traditional car companies, Lyft, Uber, Grab and Ola are all customers.

“Interest in AWS from the auto industry is significantly accelerating on top of a strong base,” the spokesperson said, adding that customers “get the most functionality, innovation, agility, security, performance, and ecosystem options of any other infrastructure provider‎.”

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