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Protocol Cloud
Your weekly guide to the future of enterprise computing.

Why AWS wants to build a cloud above the clouds

Satellite dish

Welcome to Protocol Cloud, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: Cloooouds in spaaaace, the rise of the citizen developer, and two prominent open-source database pioneers are moving on to new things.

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The Big Story

The right stuff?

There might be a lot going on right now on Planet Earth, but AWS thinks there's a big business opportunity out in space.

The cloud leader turned its sights to the heavens Tuesday, formally expanding existing efforts to link ground-based cloud computing to satellites. The newly created Aerospace and Satellite Solutions (yep, AWS ASS) business segment will "provide secure, flexible, scalable and cost-efficient cloud solutions to support government missions and companies advancing space around the world," the company said in a post announcing the new group.

  • It's fair to say cloud computing in space is in its early days, but AWS has been working on this problem for a few years, launching AWS Ground Station in 2018 to link powerful space antennas to cloud data centers.
  • The new group will be led by Clint Crozier, a retired U.S. Air Force major general last seen launching the new and instantly parodied U.S. Space Force military branch.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a personal interest in creating a vibrant market for space services, with his Blue Origin space business jockeying for position with Elon Musk's SpaceX.

Computing in space is perhaps the ultimate "edge computing" application. Edge computing is an emerging cloud concept on this mortal coil, ideal for applications that require real-time data collection or analysis and can't wait for data to make the round trip between the collection device and the cloud data center — such as satellites that are hundreds or thousands of miles above the Earth

  • Ground Station paved the way for edge space services, but this more pronounced effort will require AWS and its customers to work closely on in-space computing platforms and networking technologies that link satellites and ground-based data centers.
  • Several customers indicated they plan to use AWS ASS to launch real-time surveillance systems, which could improve the efficiency of far-flung shipping operations and improve weather detection capabilities.
  • AWS will promote its machine-learning technologies to public sector customers for use in space-related missions, which could theoretically improve the performance of space applications by crunching larger amounts of data in space and reducing the need to send it back down to Earth first.
  • All of this will also create a literal Skynet, which is just what the world needs right now.

It could take a long time for space computing to drive real revenue for AWS. But the launch of the Space Force and the growth of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin suggests that we're about to see a pronounced increase in space-related investments, after years of gradual decreases in NASA's budget.

  • Should that come to pass, AWS appears better equipped to handle this market and define space-based computing standards in its image.
  • Microsoft has invested a lot of time and money in Earth-based edge computing technology, but hasn't signaled much of an interest in space despite winning the Department of Defense's JEDI cloud contract.
  • Meanwhile, China is investing heavily in cloud computing, quantum communication, artificial intelligence, and space technologies. That's likely to make U.S. politicians seek out American champions for its own national effort, so Amazon could stand to benefit hugely.

Now if only AWS could do something about that name.

A MESSAGE FROM PALO ALTO NETWORKS

PAN

Managing the Cyber Risks of Remote Work

Right now, organizations are upgrading their capabilities and infrastructure to support their remote workers. Unfortunately, attackers are quick to take advantage. To better understand how to manage these new cyber risks, listen to this virtual panel of leading cybersecurity experts as they discuss current trends in this space. From academia and government to highly regulated industries, our panelists provide valuable insights on effectively securing a remote workforce and share strategies to ensure you're adequately prepared to address ongoing cybersecurity risks.

Watch this on-demand webcast today to learn more.

This Week in Protocol

Kill your code: AWS dominates the cloud infrastructure market but has had less success selling services beyond the IT department, which is just one of the reasons why its Amazon Honeycode launch is so interesting. The no-code development tool will allow business people to build applications without bugging their software developers, and it joins a crowded field of similar tools.

Case of the Mondays: Monday appears to be a take on the similar "low code" development concept, which offers easy-to-use tools for nondevelopers but also allows coders to work on more complex projects on the same platform. "We want to be that tool for businesses, the backbone for everything," Monday co-founder and CTO Eran Zinman told Protocol's David Pierce.

Drone on: The debate over tech companies selling surveillance gear and services to law enforcement agencies has roiled cloud computing this year, and it is not going away any time soon. Protocol's Mike Murphy caught up with Parrot founder Henri Seydoux about his efforts to sell U.S.-manufactured drones to police departments.

Around The Cloud

A MESSAGE FROM PALO ALTO NETWORKS

PAN

Managing the Cyber Risks of Remote Work

Right now, organizations are upgrading their capabilities and infrastructure to support their remote workers. Unfortunately, attackers are quick to take advantage. To better understand how to manage these new cyber risks, listen to this virtual panel of leading cybersecurity experts as they discuss current trends in this space. From academia and government to highly regulated industries, our panelists provide valuable insights on effectively securing a remote workforce and share strategies to ensure you're adequately prepared to address ongoing cybersecurity risks.

Watch this on-demand webcast today to learn more.

Thanks for reading — see you next week.

Correction: And earlier version of this article misnamed a new AWS business segment. It is called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, not Aeronautics and Satellite Solutions. Updated July 1, 2020.

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