In my last blog, I wrote about the legacy of Danny Cohen.
I forgot to mention that Cohen was integral in developing the technology that facilitated the linkage of computers to process data and manage data. It is this linkage that is at the heart of what we call “cloud computing.”
While most people associate Amazon with buying things efficiently online and, with Amazon Prime, and with its two-day or even one-day delivery, the fact is that Amazon is a kind of conglomerate. And one of its companion or complementary businesses is its dealing in clouds. In other words, that word “cloud” or phrase “in the cloud” – comprise an allegory for what is up there in never-never land. For many people, the cloud means the 99-cents they pay per month to Apple to back up everything on the phone, including those precious photographs and video of their family and vacations. But for large corporations and giant enterprises and for government at all levels, the cloud is indispensable.
It’s not just the capacity of the “cloud” or “clouds” and the operational efficiency of using this kind of storage capability, but what about the security? For corporations, the protection of data is crucial. Look at all the damage done by hacking, and the effect on the confidence of consumers and clients. And what about the extortion we see, when culprits hack into data and demand ransom? It’s enough of a problem when they hack into what some refer to what traditionally was depicted as a company ‘s physical on-site storage of data.
And we know that many of these criminals hacking into the United States operate from abroad. And while they enrich themselves and their fellow criminals, their own government looks the other way. Why? Because these criminals may also moonlight in their work for their government, as is the case, for example in Russia, a country that in effect sanctions criminal activity.
Cloud services are big business, and getting bigger, especially for government work. Over the last two years, the Pentagon alone (just one federal department) had already awarded $11 billion in cloud contracts
And just last month the Pentagon awarded a new $10 billion dollar contract for “cloud computing” to Microsoft over the perceived front-runner Amazon. Previously Oracle had voiced concerns about the award process and even filed a (failed) lawsuit claiming the procurement process was tailored to Amazon ; a former Amazon employee working on the project later recused himself, before returning to “Amazon Web Services.” Google refused to pursue the contract saying its scope was inconsistent with its “AI Principles.” (I can identify with that concern, because in working with my colleagues on AI, we go beyond any legal requirements to satisfy the highest ethical standards.) This massive Pentagon cloud contract was full of controversy, almost from the outset; even Defense Secretary Mark Esper had taken himself out of the award process simply because Esper’s son works for IBM, a prior bidder.
Amazon executives expressed surprise that Microsoft won out.
Earlier this last month, Amazon’s announced 15 percent drop in earnings reflected, in part, its continued capital investment in its cloud business. I have confidence in Amazon’s cloud capability, although I hardly dismiss Microsoft which had effectively reinvented itself to include growing cloud services and related software security for its customer base. Microsoft has signed as clients At&T, Sony, Kroger and many other major companies while the company buys out smaller cloud companies. But while Amazon and Microsoft are the top cloud providers, they are hardly alone.
There is plenty of business to go around.