Cloud wars: Amazon Web Services to open new office just down the road from Microsoft HQ

A rendering of Amazon’s new AWS office in Redmond, Wash. (Amazon Photo)

The cloud rivalry between Amazon and Microsoft continues to heat up.

Amazon announced Monday that it will open a 111,000-square-foot office for more than 600 Amazon Web Services workers in Redmond, Wash. next year, just three miles away from Microsoft’s headquarters. The new Redmond outpost will house tech and engineering teams supporting AWS’ database services.

The office is located in a former Macy’s store at Redmond Town Center that closed last year as traditional retailers struggle to keep up with growth in online shopping spearheaded by e-commerce companies such as Amazon. The tech giant moved into another former Macy’s space in 2018.

Microsoft also has an office at Redmond Town Center, in addition to its 500-acre headquarters down the road.

AWS is the market leader in the cloud computing industry, but Microsoft’s Azure has been gaining ground in recent years. The cloud businesses are helping drive profits for both companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic as more people work remotely and rely on cloud-based software.

Another rival, Google Cloud, has also been expanding its own footprint in the Seattle area, opening a large new complex on the northern edge of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. Amazon recently filed a non-compete lawsuit against a former AWS marketing exec who joined Google Cloud. In addition to its offices in Seattle proper, Google has a large outpost in Kirkland, Wash.

The new AWS office is another expansion for Amazon in the Seattle region beyond its main headquarters. The company announced in December that its Project Kuiper satellite operation will move into a 219,000 square foot office in Redmond  — the same city where one of its chief rivals, SpaceX, has its own satellite operation.

Amazon also has ambitious growth plans in nearby Bellevue, Wash., where it plans to hire 15,000 employees in the growing city 10 miles east of Seattle.

“Our new Redmond office is part of our plan to continue growing and creating jobs in the Puget Sound region,” said John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities, in a statement. “In addition to Redmond’s strong existing talent pool and close access to our Seattle and Bellevue locations, these new facilities will also provide more flexible work options for employees, allowing us to continue our sustainable growth in the region for years to come.”

Amazon announced plans to move its worldwide operations team to nearby Bellevue last year, planning to shift thousands of people from Seattle to the new Bellevue campus by 2022. The company has butted heads with Seattle’s City Council and slowed its expansion in the city. Last year, Amazon gave up one of its highest profile leases of the last decade, putting the high-profile Rainier Square building on the sub-lease market.

Amazon employs more than 50,000 people in Seattle, and nearly 1 million worldwide. The company is allowing employees who can work from home to do so until at least October, due to the pandemic.

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