December 23, 2020
Welcome to Protocol Cloud, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: a look back at the stories that shaped the year in cloud computing, tarnish on the Golden State and the latest on the SolarWinds security nightmare.
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For almost two decades, enterprise technology was building toward the moment realized fully this year.
The first name for this idea was "utility computing," the suggestion that obtaining computing power should be as easy as flipping a light switch and billed on a consumption basis. Utilities are neither exciting nor entrepreneurial, however, so that morphed into "cloud," a catch-all term for a utility-like pool of computing resources and managed software that lay beyond the walls of a given company's data center.
Within Silicon Valley, cloud computing is old news: It's been table stakes for years.
But in 2020, every company learned this lesson: The pandemic forced "two years of digital transformation in two months," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in April.
As the year mercifully winds to a close, it's possible to see light at the end of the very dark tunnel that was 2020. Yet it's also clear that the world will not revert back to the old way of doing things once a sufficient percentage of the world's population receives a COVID-19 vaccine.
It's hard to imagine how much more economic disruption the world would have seen if businesses had been forced to cope with widespread stay-at-home orders in, say, 2002. The cloud-based tools and services developed over the last two decades played a key role in the rapid overhaul of supply chains, business collaboration tools and even vaccine development, all of which prevented the most dire predictions of economic meltdown from this past spring ever coming to pass.
However, the fact that this amazing year for cloud computing was due to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, and the yet unknown effects of the virus on millions more, should never be forgotten.
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SAP rising? SAP is definitely one of those "storied technology companies" referenced above that needs to adapt to the cloud era, and is showing signs it's settled on a path. Protocol's Joe Williams took a look at how the German database and ERP giant is retooling its strategy for the next decade of cloud growth.
California dreamin'? The Bay Area is a magical place with a lot of problems, some of which are now seen as too intractable to fix by a contingent of the tech elite. But some tech companies and leaders, perhaps encouraged by state officials, are doubling down on their commitment to the region, as Protocol's Biz Carson reports.
Haters hating? Salesforce took some flak in 2020 for urging companies to adopt a "no layoffs" policy in the early onset of the pandemic only to … lay off employees in August. Still, the company has been hiring aggressively in other areas and looks set to exit 2020 in strong shape, according to another report from Joe Williams.
What was your first tech job?
I grew up in the Middle East and started my own software company when I was 14. I sold a program that removed rampant computer viruses. I stayed home from school for three months to get the company bootstrapped and write the software, then ran the company while at school.
What was the first computer that made you realize the power of computing and connectivity?
My first computer was a ZX Spectrum with 48K of memory. I learned the BASIC programming language while sitting on the floor of the living room and connected to the family TV. Later on I bought my first PC and I remember getting a 56K baud dial-up modem and learning about the power of being connected via Bulletin board systems.
What was the biggest reason for the success of cloud computing over the past decade?
Outsourcing infrastructure and data centers was not new, but making infrastructure (and later on, platform and software services) all accessible via an API is the reason cloud computing became the dominant IT paradigm.
What will be the biggest challenge for cloud computing over the coming decade?
We're now 15 years since AWS was first launched, and the promise of going "all in'' on a single cloud vendor has not played out as promised. Many organizations continue to manage multiple cloud environments as well as their own services and infrastructure on-premises. The biggest challenge going forward is in managing this complexity.
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?
The pandemic is giving companies the opportunity to rethink what's best for them rather than continuing on with the status quo. At Upbound, we invested early in a healthy remote work culture pre-pandemic, but that pandemic is causing us to accelerate our investment.
Thanks for reading — have a great week.