Boeing Co. is hiring the three biggest U.S. cloud-computing companies — Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google — to help with a digital makeover aimed at giving its airplane designers and software developers more tools.
The multiyear agreements are intended to upgrade the company’s current system of hosting and maintaining software applications through a network of servers, which can be difficult to maintain, the Chicago-based manufacturer told employees Wednesday. Boeing plans to shift hundreds of applications to the cloud, where they’ll be stored and maintained in the tech giants’ data centers.
The manufacturing titan is rebooting its technology to help address quality lapses and production gremlins that drive up costs of developing new aircraft. The planemaker is investing in tools such as digital twins — virtual replicas of actual hardware — to model both the performance of its new aircraft concepts and the assembly lines that would build them.
“These partnerships will strengthen our ability to test a system — or an aircraft — hundreds of times using digital twin technology before it is deployed,” Susan Doniz, Boeing’s chief information officer, said in a post on LinkedIn.
Boeing didn’t disclose the financial terms of the new arrangement. The Information had reported last year that Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft’s Azure were competing for a contract worth more than $1 billion over several years.
Boeing is the latest big tech customer to split its business among multiple cloud providers, eschewing a centralized approach promoted by Amazon. That company, which leads the cloud market, urges customers to go “all in” on AWS. Microsoft and Google, the No. 2 and No. 3 U.S.-based providers, advocate a “multicloud” approach of the sort Boeing is taking.
Boeing has already worked with the companies on a limited basis and will avoid disrupting existing cloud-supported products by keeping all three on board, a spokeswoman said. While the manufacturer eliminated 600 jobs when it outsourced its information-technology infrastructure to Dell Technologies Inc. last year, it doesn’t plan to lay off workers with the latest pacts.