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Protocol | Enterprise
Your guide to the future of enterprise computing, every Monday and Thursday.

Enterprise CEOs take a stand

Enterprise CEOs take a stand

Welcome to Protocol | Enterprise, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: CEOs respond to the violence at the Capitol (with one notable exception), how GE birthed this generation's IT leaders and Congress likely sidesteps major cybersecurity issues following the mob attack.

But first things first, hello! I'm Joe Williams, the newest senior enterprise reporter at Protocol, and I'm excited to be joining Tom Krazit in helping to deliver an inside look at the wild world of enterprise technology. Today marks the launch of Protocol | Enterprise, your one stop for news, analysis and research on the people, power and politics of enterprise technology.

You can expect deep-dive reporting, story packages about the most important industry trends, insights from our panel of Braintrust experts, a vibrant series of events, research that helps you prepare for the future and of course, newsletters like this one, which will now come out twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays.

My hope is to provide a deeper look at the people behind the software in use every day across corporate America, while taking you beyond the well-crafted press releases and placing you as close to the centers of influence within these companies as possible. But it's not all about the vendors, so we'll also find the most compelling case studies to highlight just how transformative software can be, as well as the trials and tribulations that companies of all stripes are experiencing during these overhauls.

Let's get to it.

The Big Story

Taking a stand

Last week, we all saw an affront to our democracy that many Americans haven't witnessed in their lifetimes; that is, unless you were alive in 1814. As the dust settled after the violent mob attack on the Capitol that left five people dead, many CEOs of top enterprise companies decried the partisan split and outlandish rhetoric that led us to this point.

For the past several years, top executives have shown more of a willingness to speak out on politically-charged issues. Remember Marc Benioff's opposition to an Indiana law that would have made it easier for companies to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals?

But last week's events allowed CEOs to take a real stance. This wasn't a policy choice that undermined their operations or potentially discriminatory laws that could impact employees. It was a flagrant display of anti-Democratic behavior after which many staff and customers hoped their senior executives would take a strong line.

Leadership at AWS took the most direct action so far, when it announced that it would stop providing services for Parler, the social network whose users played a part in organizing Wednesday's attack and hosted subsequent calls for further violence.

  • "We cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others," AWS said in the letter.
  • As of Monday morning, Parler is offline. Its CEO John Matze told Fox News that so far no other vendor has expressed interest in changing that.
  • AWS' decision raises all kinds of complex questions about what role a cloud provider should play as a gatekeeper. And it's also likely to prompt companies such as Parler to move toward building and running their own servers in future.

But the harsh reality is more complicated: Many of these executives, despite splitting with Trump on some issues, also kept an open line of communication with the White House over the past four years, and appeared more than willing to attend the largely ceremonial roundtables or let administration officials use their facilities for publicity events.

  • It's tough to fault the CEO of a major company for wanting to collaborate with the president of the country.
  • But as the social media's role in fostering political division faces increasing scrutiny, it also raises a question about the role that executives like Benioff and Krishna play as a check to our political leaders.

And let's not forget the senior execs that stayed silent. Aside from Peter Thiel, no one in tech, at least publicly, appeared closer to Trump than Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and CEO Safra Catz. So far, neither Ellison or Catz seem to have said anything about Wednesday's events.

  • After asking Oracle's press team several times if the company had a statement on the events that transpired at the Capitol and whether Ellison continued to back Trump, I've yet to receive a response.
  • Apparently, Oracle hasn't yet said anything to employees either. So we're left guessing about where Ellison now stands on Trump.

A MESSAGE FROM MICRON​

Micron

For Raj Hazra, who is senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications at Micron, there has never been a more thrilling time than this golden age of data. In this interview, Hazra describes how "we are now at the doorstep of taking things that we thought were science fiction and making them real, and it's only going to be exponentially faster going forward". Read more from Micron's Raj Hazra.

From Protocol

The birthplace of CIOs: While GE's struggles have been well-documented, the company's ability to produce leaders is tough to argue against, particularly when it comes to IT chiefs. Former GE-ers are running the tech operations at the largest U.S. companies such as Airbnb, Morgan Stanley, AIG, Nationwide and dozens more. A key reason for the vast alumni network at the top ranks is the focus early-on to expose technologists to the business.

Observability, the new monitoring: For years, monitoring has helped flag problems to software developers, only to burden them with painstaking analysis to identify the cause. Now, Tom writes, the emerging field of observability promises to show developers exactly which part of their code is causing a problem, and why.

Mobbed but not hacked: Despite rioters at the Capitol having access to member offices and, subsequently, their IT hardware, experts say there's little threat to congressional networks. That's a saving grace for the federal government, which is still dealing with the fallout of the massive SolarWinds hack.

Coming Up This Week

Not a lot on the calendar this week. But maybe that's a good thing after the last few days.

In other news

A MESSAGE FROM MICRON​

Micron

For Raj Hazra, who is senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications at Micron, there has never been a more thrilling time than this golden age of data. In this interview, Hazra describes how "we are now at the doorstep of taking things that we thought were science fiction and making them real, and it's only going to be exponentially faster going forward". Read more from Micron's Raj Hazra.

Thanks for reading. We'll be back with Protocol | Enterprise on Thursday.

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