January 28, 2021
Johannes Marliem / Protocol
Welcome to Protocol | Enterprise, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This Thursday: Microsoft's swagger is back, the launch of Protocol | China, and Bezos and Musk fight over their side hustles.
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Tom Krazit writes: Amid the widespread backlash that hit tech companies over the past couple of years, Microsoft skated clear of almost all the damage. It decided to kick off 2021 by putting a big target on its back.
"Businesses need to build their own technology to compete and grow. Microsoft is powering this shift with the world's largest and most comprehensive cloud platform," said CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, following the release of Microsoft's second fiscal quarter earnings results. Those earnings revealed a company firing on all cylinders. But there was a subtle flex to Nadella's comment: declaring Microsoft "the world's largest and most comprehensive cloud platform," perhaps unintentionally, makes clear how much power the company has over enterprise tech spending.
Usually it's Microsoft's Seattle-area neighbor, AWS, that draws all the slings and arrows associated with a company at the top of a market's food chain. But if you look across the breadth and depth of Microsoft's cloud software portfolio, you see a company that has a huge presence in nearly every significant enterprise software market of the modern day.
Microsoft has an enormous installed base of clients around the world, thanks to its 45-year history. While Windows was once the vehicle for the company's ambitions, it's now been replaced by the cloud.
But at some point, Microsoft's performance may raise eyebrows inside a new presidential administration that has promised to take a closer look at the consolidation of economic power inside a handful of tech companies.
Microsoft is one of tech's greatest turnaround stories; it's amazing how far it has come since Nadella took over in 2014. It's once again at the center of the industry, and with renewed power seems likely to come renewed scrutiny.
Chinese technology and innovation are shaping our lives and workplaces. We launched Protocol | China to give you the news, analysis and research on the people, power and politics of Chinese tech. We move beyond the day's headlines to tell you what's next at the intersection of technology, policy and business in the world's largest country.
"The wolf mentality": This week marked the launch of our latest vertical, Protocol | China, and while you should read all of this week's launch stories (and sign up to receive the newsletter), this story from Protocol's Shen Lu is definitely worth your time. Misogyny is rampant inside Chinese tech companies, especially at Chinese cloud powers Alibaba and Baidu, despite strong representation of women in executive teams.
Bundle up: SAP hopes to engineer a turnaround similar to Microsoft's under new CEO Christian Klein, and it's trying a promotion: bundling several other cloud services alongside the flagship S/4 HANA ERP software. Protocol's Joe Williams took a look at the strategy and how it might revamp SAP's fortunes.
Machine vaccines: California's attempts at rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines to its hard-hit population have been a disaster, a failure of both organization and data. Protocol's Issie Lapowsky talked to Macro-eyes, a healthcare data analysis company that plans to use machine learning to help California health officials figure out how to get their state on track to vaccinate its most vulnerable citizens.
Thanks for reading — see you Monday.