Shelley Bransten, Microsoft's vice president of global retail and consumer products, said: "What I hear from all the major retailers in this transition is that they want their own data and they want partners to be no competitors in any other part of their business."
In addition to using the Azure public cloud, Gap employees will also be granted access to Microsoft 365 services, includingWindows10.Office365 productivity application package and enterprise mobile and security suite. Gap will also use Power BI business intelligence software.
Bransten said Gap was looking for Azure for e-commerce operations, inventory and labor systems. The size of the contract has not yet been disclosed.
Enterprises are turning to cloud computing to take advantage of the broader real-time services they receive from traditional data centers and to make more effective use of their capital, which is particularly important for slow-growing established businesses.
Gap's shares fell 18% in the second quarter of this year, when its revenue fell short of analysts'expectations.
Blin Sten worked for Gap for more than 15 years, then worked in Salesforce and joined Microsoft in September. "Retailers don't have endless budgets, so moving to cloud computing is an opportunity to reduce costs and then improve business efficiency," he said.
Meanwhile, Teri List-Stoll, Gap's chief financial officer, is also a member of Microsoft's board of directors.