August 19, 2020
Image: Oracle / Protocol
Welcome to Protocol Cloud, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: How Oracle's social media ambitions line up with its political interests, why Amazon's gaming efforts seem focused on the wrong outcome, and an internet legend answers five questions about cloud computing.
Whenever a 43-year-old database company gets a chance to buy a stake in a fast-growing social media property that's almost completely irrelevant to its core business strategy but will make the most powerful man in the world like it even more then, obviously, it's gotta take it.
Quick recap, because a lot's happened: Following a threat to ban TikTok in the U.S., President Trump last week ordered TikTok parent company ByteDance to sell its U.S. operation within 90 days to a bidder subject to approval by CFIUS. There are only a few tech companies on Trump's nice list, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison runs one such company.
Put aside the chummy relationship between a cantankerous billionaire and a man who played a cantankerous billionaire on television: What might Oracle actually do with TikTok?
It's quite possible that Oracle's bid is just a distraction, a planted headline to get Wall Street buzzing and to force Microsoft to cough up more than it might have otherwise planned were it the sole bidder.
But there's also a more troubling possibility: that Oracle's involvement is a preview of what tech deal-makers can expect during a possible second term for the Trump administration.
And an Oracle-Trump union does make a lot of sense. After all, former enterprise sales executive Tom Siebel once compared Oracle's business tactics in the 1990s to another controversial Republican president: "This is the Richard Nixon school of software marketing," he said, describing Ellison's desire to destroy his company.
In 2020, maybe it's the Donald Trump school of tech takeovers.
Edge computing is an emerging concept that holds great promise. AI best practices are still evolving in the cloud. Join us on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. PT / noon ET to further understand edge computing, how it will change the way modern business applications are built, and why AI processes will have to be conduced at the edge. Speakers to be announced. This event is presented in partnership with Intel.
Virtual balloons: How do you pull off a national convention over the internet? "No one has ever done what we are going to do here," said Andrew Binns, chief operating officer of the Democratic National Convention Committee, describing the work that took place behind the scenes on a project that makes the challenges of remote working seem very small.
Creative firewall: Despite owning Twitch, the ESPN of modern video gaming, Amazon has struggled to make a name for itself in the gaming world. Perhaps that's because its gaming executives report up into AWS, a structure intended to highlight the power of AWS' virtual gaming infrastructure but one that walls off the extremely creative world of video game development from Amazon's other creative businesses such as Amazon Studios.
What was your first tech job?
I worked as a systems engineer for IBM from 1965 to 1967 running the Interactive, QUIKTRAN time-sharing system that allowed users to compose and run programs in FORTRAN. Early days for commercial time sharing.
What's the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting their first tech job?
Learn everything you can; don't be afraid to take some (technical) risks. Of course, don't do stupid things if you can avoid them!
What was the biggest reason for the success of cloud computing over the past decade?
Dynamic capacity expansion, improved security and global Internet access. A need to modernize technology infrastructure, optimize costs and prepare for the future. The pandemic has also accelerated cloud adoption. We have seen significant transformation over the past six months. More so than any other period in the past decade alone.
What will be the biggest challenge for cloud computing over the coming decade?
Providing universal authentication of identity correlated across users, devices and services, even over untrusted networks. Also a stronger focus on data confidentiality and isolation, which will see security frameworks like Confidential Computing come to the fore.
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?
Virtual meetings, remote collaboration, flexible hours: These new ways of working are here to stay. Almost certainly, some jobs will continue to be undertaken remotely. Employers will be more tolerant of working from home. Offices may adapt by increasing the number of shared workspaces for people who do NOT work in the office all the time. Of course, sanitary practices to facilitate that will evolve such as regular UV treatment of offices and work spaces. Finally, remote learning will persist, partly to accommodate larger classes covering much broader physical spaces.
Thanks for reading — see you next week.