Microsoft, NEC bundle private 5G, edge and cloud compute, IoT and AI for enterprises
Microsoft and NEC are working together to bundle edge and cloud computing, private 5G networking, and IoT and AI capabilities. The pair are cherry picking from each other’s portfolios, and going to market mob-handed to drive digital change among enterprises, they said.
The pair have signed a multi-year deal, as an extension of a 40-year working relationship. NEC will use Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform for its own business and for customers. The pair said they will migrate NEC’s on-premises IT environment to Azure, and deploy various Azure services for NEC staff. The Japanese firm employs 110,000 people, globally.
The move to host its IT infrastructure in the cloud will also benefit NEC’s customers in the commercial and public sector, a statement said. These customers will be sold edge computing solutions from Microsoft with private 5G networking from NEC in the name of ‘workplace and workforce transformation’. The pair cited retail as a prime customer segment, suggesting a scenario where some combination of sensing (IoT) and sense-making (AI) applications from the two firms are attached to their edge-cloud 5G sales.
A statement declared: “In retail, for example, the two companies will work together to analyze customer transaction data in real time using AI to better understand buying patterns, improve operational efficiency and identify new market opportunities… The combination of Azure and both companies’ AI and IoT technologies will enhance NEC’s customer experience through advanced solutions and enable more secure maintenance and operation of stores.”
They are jointly targeting “multiple markets and industries”, they said, and pitching the joint-sale as part of a strategy to make enterprises more robust after the coronavirus pandemic destabilised large swathes of the global economy. As part of the deal, NEC will double the number of “digital-focused engineers specialized in Microsoft technologies” within the NEC group.
Satya Nadella, chairman and chief executive at Microsoft, said: “As we’ve seen over the past year, digital adoption curves are accelerating across every industry and business function. Our strategic partnership with NEC brings together the power of Azure and Microsoft 365 with NEC’s services and infrastructure expertise to help public and private sector customers build resilience and transform during this era of rapid change.”
Takayuki Morita, president and chief executive at NEC, said: “With Microsoft’s trusted cloud and services, the experience that NEC has cultivated in its own systems, and both companies’ AI and IoT technologies, we will enable companies globally to use digital services that are safer and more secure than ever before as they progress with digital initiatives.”
Hitoshi Yoshida, president and chief executive for Microsoft in Japan, said: “The need for sustainable transformation to ensure business resiliency and growth has never been more important in the world and especially Japan. Our partnership will help accelerate the industry’s cloud-based digital transformation and utilization of data migration and help Japan’s continued success globally, leading to greater economic and societal prosperity.”