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The New Enterprise

Welcome to The New Enterprise

An unprecedented year has accelerated the adoption of a decade's worth of breakthroughs. This is your guide to what's changed.

A man in a mask working on a server.

Businesses operating on the internet learned a lot of lessons this year. Those that flourished were able to shift gears at a moment's notice; those that survived without making wholesale changes now have a blueprint for how to operate over the coming decade.

Photo: Andresr/Getty Images

After a chaotic year that upended assumptions about the scale and pace of the shift to modern enterprise technology, it's time to take a breath and assess how far the world has come.

Businesses around the globe were mostly aware heading into 2020 that they'd face a day of reckoning for their outdated infrastructure at some point in the near future, but no one could have foreseen how a global pandemic would accelerate the trend. "We've seen two years of digital transformation in two months," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in April, underscoring just how quickly the world was forced to adapt.

Quite simply, there's no going back to the old ways of enterprise computing. A new model is evolving that moves beyond the simple debates about clouds versus data centers to encompass a broader picture of how the applications and data that power the world economy will run over the next 10 years.

That model incorporates the best of the cloud to account for sudden spikes in demand as well as the convenience of managed cloud services. It acknowledges that at least some data centers are here to stay, and that the late majority of enterprise technology adopters will maintain hybrid cloud infrastructure for a long time to come. And it foreshadows a world in which cloud software is no longer a novelty, but a mission-critical tool that has changed the way software is built for years to come.

As part of the New Enterprise Manual, which will feature new stories every day this week, Protocol talked to experts across the enterprise tech landscape to highlight emerging trends in infrastructure construction and identify how these patterns are shifting.

The pandemic forced almost all businesses to think differently about how they work and how they use technology, from retail companies forced to embrace digital distribution overnight to modern tech companies forced to take some of their own medicine and learn how to adopt technology tools designed for remote workplaces.

This year saw edge computing move from a promising idea to a real-world strategy for dealing with new types of demand. The economic chaos caused by the pandemic put a new spotlight on cloud pricing strategies as long-term deals tied to targeted levels of consumption came under pressure in industries especially hard-hit by this crisis.

And throughout it all, AWS remained the most influential company in this world, on track to record well over $40 billion in revenue during the year as it gets set to kick off its virtual re:Invent event this week. Microsoft and Google continued to put pressure on the cloud pioneer, but as the year winds down to a close, the overall picture hasn't really changed.

Businesses operating on the internet learned a lot of lessons this year. Those that flourished were able to shift gears at a moment's notice; those that survived without making wholesale changes now have a blueprint for how to operate over the coming decade.

Cloud computing forever changed the way businesses think about provisioning technology resources. Over the next decade, the companies that understand how to best utilize the principles advanced by a decade of breakthroughs and accelerated by a tumultuous year will thrive.

Join us as we take stock of what's happened this year and what's soon to come. We'll be publishing new stories every day, so check back here all week to read more.

The New Enterprise

Software ate the world. Now it’s eating software companies.

Enterprise software juggernauts are trying to emulate (or just acquire) the smaller, specialized companies. It's not as easy as it looks.

Nom nom nom.

Image: Bloomberg/Getty Images/Protocol

Do you want excellence, or convenience?

Cloud computing allowed a generation of enterprise software companies to flourish, providing them the freedom to tinker with laser-focused ideas that could streamline stodgy business workflows within a browser or an app. That has led to a proliferation of different enterprise software vendors offering high-performance but niche products: According to data from Okta, which makes identity management software, its average corporate customer is using 88 separate apps across their business.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

The New Enterprise

Nine companies that could define the future of enterprise software

From streamlining software development to changing the way companies communicate, here are the software trends headed to your offices in the coming years.

A bunch of enterprise software companies want companies to do things a little differently.

Image: Protocol

Software may have eaten the world, but the world has changed — and a new wave of enterprise software has an appetite.

Heading into 2021, the enterprise software industry has a wealth of opportunity before it, not least as a result of COVID-19. As companies raced to make better use of cloud computing, their needs shifted: They now need to build, deploy and monitor software in wholly new ways. At the same time, companies are also using digital systems more than ever — whether that's for customer engagement, internal communication, staff training or something else entirely. And on top of all that is the natural march of technological progress as technologies like AI and VR mature and finally become usable in the workplace (or home office).

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Hirsh Chitkara
Hirsh Chitkara (@ChitkaraHirsh) is a researcher at Protocol, based out of New York City. Before joining Protocol, he worked for Business Insider Intelligence, where he wrote about Big Tech, telecoms, workplace privacy, smart cities, and geopolitics. He also worked on the Strategy & Analytics team at the Cleveland Indians.
The New Enterprise

AWS quietly enters the multicloud era

The cloud leader confirmed that two new services introduced Tuesday at re:Invent can be used to manage applications on Microsoft and Google's cloud services.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy gave a keynote at AWS' re:Invent.

Photo: AWS re:Invent

It was easy to miss a line on two slides presented during AWS CEO Andy Jassy's Tuesday morning keynote at re:Invent 2020. But it opened a new chapter in the history of the cloud computing pioneer.

ECS Anywhere and EKS Anywhere — two new versions of AWS' managed containers and managed Kubernetes services, both designed for customer data centers — can be used to manage applications running on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Each service "works on any infrastructure," according to the slide, and AWS confirmed to Protocol that they would allow customers to use its software to manage workloads running on other cloud providers.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

The New Enterprise

Inside S&P Global Ratings’ aggressive computing overhaul

Mark Wang, the company's head of cloud engineering, had a three-year plan to reboot its approach to computing. It was ambitious to say the least.

"We've built out all the cloud expertise in-house, that's one thing I'm very proud of," says Mark Wang, the company's head of cloud engineering.

Image: Creative-Touch/Protocol

"We're a 160-year-old institution," says Mark Wang, head of cloud engineering at S&P Global Ratings. "Now, we're moving at the pace of a fintech."

Unlike many fellow financial services companies, which have been slow to adopt cloud computing, Wang's team at the global ratings agency has been nothing less than extremely aggressive in its rollout of new technology. Last year, it moved more than 160 of its internal applications to the cloud, bucking the trend of compromising on the hybrid cloud. This year, it's embarking on an ambitious plan to re-architect those applications around serverless computing principles and Kubernetes, using the Knative open-source project.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

The New Enterprise

Data centers aren’t dead. But they’ll never look the same again.

Major cloud providers have accepted a future where hybrid cloud strategies take center stage, which means on-premises infrastructure will continue to evolve. Here's how.

All-in cloud strategies are likely to be the exception, rather than the rule, when it comes to the next wave of modernization.

Photo: Erik Isakson/Getty Images

A funny thing happened along the way to the cloud-only future we were promised a decade ago: Turns out, for many applications, the old-fashioned way of doing business on the internet works just fine.

Cloud vendors and customers have reevaluated their infrastructure strategies around the hybrid cloud in recent years, and that means self-managed data centers are going to be with us for a long time to come. Even AWS, the pioneer of the cloud market, now offers customers a rack of physical servers designed around AWS services that they can use in their data centers, just a few years after scoffing at the notion that anyone would want to manage their own equipment.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

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