May 13, 2020
Image: Henrique Casinhas/SOPA Images/LightRocket 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 a new chip option for AWS customers could shake up the cloud market, why going public is going out of style in 2020, and the most hilarious engineering blog post you've ever seen.
The first real experiment with alternative processors in the cloud-computing era kicked off this week after AWS made its second-generation Graviton processors generally available to customers, six months after introducing the chips at re:Invent 2019. The modern cloud was built on Intel's x86 server processors, but the Graviton chips could change the way cloud customers think about building their applications.
But the new AWS EC2 M6g instances (a name only an engineer could love) do use the Arm instruction set. And AWS says the instances could provide a "40% improvement on cost-performance ratio" compared to other general-purpose x86 instances available from the company. Application performance might be the ultimate expression of "your mileage may vary," but for some customers the new instances could provide big cost savings.
As is often the case, though, there is a catch.
Still, this is potentially an interesting inflection point for cloud customers.
It's likely that the new instances will appeal mostly to startups or small companies without a lot of technical debt, or skunkworks projects inside big companies that have freedom to experiment.
Tailored to meet client demand, the Nasdaq Cloud Data Service (NCDS) provides real-time streaming of exchange, index, fund and analytic data. Data is made available through a suite of APIs, allowing for effortless integration and a dramatic reduction in time to market for customer-designed applications.
Apple harvest: It was always weird that Apple's obsession with detail never extended to its dysfunctional web and tech infrastructure operations, but it sounds like that's changing. Apple has hired some serious heavy-hitters in the cloud and enterprise open-source space over the last few months, including ex-Docker engineer Michael Crosby, who one source told me "is who we can thank for containers as they exist today."
IP-Nope: Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman alluded to this in an interview earlier this year, but my colleague Biz Carson confirmed it in her new Protocol Pipeline newsletter: "The IPO market is dead for 2020." Cloud companies might be an exception toward the end of the year if demand for their services continues to increase along with the growth in remote work, but those companies should also find it easier to raise additional private funds than other startups.
High finance: This week's Protocol Braintrust built on one of my stories from earlier this year on how financial services companies are realizing that they need to get moving when it comes to modernizing their tech infrastructure. What's holding them back? Several experts weighed in.
Thanks to everyone who responded with suggestions for great people to include in this new Q&A section. I received a ton of great ideas and will reach out individually over the coming weeks. New ideas are always welcome: Email me at email@example.com.
Anyway, this week it's five questions for Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty.
What was your first tech job?
My first gig in tech was as the head of global marketing for i2, which at the time was a hyper-growth supply-chain automation software company that transformed manufacturing. I was fresh out of P&G with a consumer-brand marketing and sales background and thrown directly into the deep end, marketing the financial value proposition for complex technology to C-suite executives from Japan to Paris and everyplace in between.
What has changed the most at your company over the past two months?
We are accelerating components of our strategic plan in service of our customers. Our platform was built to automate and orchestrate distributed, mission-critical unplanned work so we are benefiting from some tailwinds in the current environment: cloud scaling, accelerated digitization of business models and customer service.
I know from previous recessions that companies like ours, cost-efficient market leaders with strong balance sheets, find opportunities to build market share. On the flip side, we are also ruthlessly prioritizing, saying 'no' to things that are not a high priority, or killing projects that just months ago seemed paramount.
Will the pandemic usher in a new era of remote working, or will we all come back together when it is safe to do so?
We are living in an incredible human experiment that will leave the workforce forever changed post COVID-19. Innovation we thought was five years away is five months away now. I cannot imagine going back to the old way of doing things and we are working hard to make sure we can embrace all the new muscle we have built as a 100% remote company.
What's the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting their first tech job?
Listen with curiosity and experiment both in your role and with your career — while many will encourage you to specialize, try roles across the business that build your understanding of how it all comes together.
Mac or PC?
Mac — I am all in at home and at work. Except for Excel — I love the marriage of a solid PC and a huge spreadsheet for analysis.
Thanks for reading — we'll see you next week.