Microsoft just rubbed Google’s nose in a big cloud computing customer win: Land O’ Lakes

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Microsoft CEO Nadella
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Thomson Reuters

Microsoft on Monday posted a surprising case study about a $13 billion company: Land O’ Lakes.

Land O’ Lakes owns several businesses, among them the agriculture tech company WinField. On Monday, Land O’ Lakes CIO Mike Macrie described in a blog post published by Microsoft how WinFien will be moving its “R7” app to Microsoft Azure.

“This app takes a vast array of agronomic research, weather information and satellite data and puts it together on a mobile device for farmers – and the WinField specialists who help them – so they can make important planting decisions and react to real-time changes in the field, every day,” Macrie says.

Macrie says that the mobile device will be a Surface tablet, which is also being issued to Land O’ Lakes employees. And while he’s at it, he’s giving everyone Office 365.

But the surprising part is that Land O’ Lakes is one of Google cloud’s marquee enterprise customers. In March, Land O’ Lakes announced that it was putting another part of that very same application into Google’s cloud, gaining access to Google’s weather data, map data and such as well.

Macrie told Fortune’s Barb Darrow that he’s also using a little of Amazon’s Web Services, although didn’t consider AWS to be a major cloud vendor.

For the time being, Land O’ Lakes is not unplugging all of its servers. It’s maintaining the ones that run its Oracle databases in house. Still, it is moving over 2,000 Windows and Linux servers into these two clouds, he told Fortune.

A seat at the table

The story is interesting because it shows the challenge Google has when competing with Microsoft and AWS to poll vault itself out of third place in what promises to be a $141 billion cloud computing market by 2019.

Google’s head of cloud computing, Diane Greene, says that Google is winning deals away from Microsoft and AWS when those deals go out to bid.

The question is, is Google being invited to the table to bid? Or is it often being often left out, thanks to Microsoft’s long-standing relationships with these enterprise customers? Microsoft keeps trotting out huge cloud deals, like ones announced with Boeing and GE last week. Greene implied during the Fortune Brainstorm conference in Aspen last week that Google doesn’t always get a chance to bid on those deals.

And now Microsoft is showing off that it, too, has a piece of Google’s customer, Land O’ Lakes.

Macrie says his use of the cloud is just beginning, too.

He, like many other CIOs of large enterprise companies, wants to ditch everything he can into the cloud, he told Darrow. And if he, like many other CIOs spread that work around, it won’t be a zero sum game for the cloud providers. There will be room for many of them to grow big, perhaps even far-behind upstarts like Oracle.

Google declined comment. Microsoft and Land O Lakes did not respond to a request for comment.