April 22, 2020
Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Welcome to Protocol Cloud, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: how cloud companies looking for ways to help build our way out of a crisis could look in their backyards, Alibaba ponies up $28 billion of cloud investment, and an alternative to the dreaded VPN.
That's the increase in traffic to Stack Exchange's puzzling site, as the stay-at-home orders drag on. Look, everyone needs something to do, OK?
As earnings season kicks off, we're about to get a better picture of the economic destruction left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a sense of how bad it's about to get. Some businesses that already know they are in dire straits are hoping Big Cloud will throw them a lifeline.
Meanwhile, state governments continue to have problems processing record-high numbers of unemployment applications and other essential services, thanks to outdated and poorly maintained technology infrastructure.
Other enterprise tech vendors are giving customers a break. Cisco, for instance, has given customers a 90-day payment holiday, allowing them to defer 95% of costs until 2021, while HPE is allowing customers to hold off paying 90% of costs until 2021.
I have a modest proposal for AWS, Microsoft, and Google if they're thinking about following suit: Instead of bailing out venture-backed startups and big companies with cash in the bank, how about they first figure out a low-cost or at-cost way to shore up the tech infrastructures used by state governments?
States have been burned by promises from tech vendors, in the past, but the need for their services has never been greater.
Join Protocol's editor at large David Pierce at noon PT/3 p.m. ET tomorrow for a discussion with Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube, as they discuss misinformation, news, entertainment, advertising and leading a global company in a pandemic.
Foundation bound: Google has been coy about its plans for Istio, one of the more important open-source projects it has developed, and last year it angered partners by backtracking on a commitment to donate the service to a foundation. But Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian told me in an interview this week that Istio will indeed wind up in a foundation "relatively soon." (Stay tuned for more from that interview.)
Slippery slope: IBM's multiyear trend of declining revenue continued this week after it reported a 3% drop in revenue, noting that its software business experienced a significant slowdown in the last few weeks of the first quarter. Give new CEO Arvind Krishna credit for acknowledging the elephant in the room: "You should look at [revenue] growth as the number one most important metric" in assessing IBM over the next few years, he said during the earnings conference call.
Special snowflake: "The IPO market is effectively closed," Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman told me in an interview last week. The $12.4 billion cloud data-warehouse company was expected to go public some time in the relatively near future, but COVID-19 has put those plans on hold.
Thanks for reading — we'll see you next week.