Computer Hardware

Top 10 cloud stories of 2019

The public cloud market continues to mature, and enterprises are becoming increasingly more comfortable with using off-premise products and services, and it is predominantly Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google reaping the rewards of these trends.

Much of the cloud news cycle in 2019 has been dominated by reports of how Microsoft and Google are attempting to eat into AWS’s considerable lead within the public cloud space, while enterprises wrestle with how to best to ensure siding with one provider will not leave them at a disadvantage, both financially and competitively.

Adopting a hybrid-centric or multicloud strategy is increasingly becoming the favoured approach for many enterprises, including those operating in verticals that were previously sceptical or too tightly regulated to consider moving to the cloud in the past.

With all this in mind, here’s a look back over Computer Weekly’s top 10 cloud stories of 2019.

1. Microsoft beats AWS to $10bn, decade-long cloud deal

Ever since the US Department of Defense (DoD) first set out its intention in September 2017 to build a single supplier-based, general-purpose cloud environment to underpin its 10-year digital transformation plans, the assumption has endured that Amazon Web Services (AWS) would be a shoo-in for the contract.

Such was the strength of feeling on this front, various suppliers – including Oracle and IBM – spoke out about the unfairness of it all, claiming the contract was clearly designed from the get-go with AWS in mind.

However, after months of legal battles, and some alleged “political interference”, the DoD confirmed in October 2019 that Microsoft, not AWS, had succeeded in securing the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) contract. A decision Amazon is now in the process of contesting through the courts.

2. Staff revolts shake-up the cloud supplier landscapes

The involvement, and interest, in contracts like JEDI from the cloud community has prompted staff protests and revolts at Microsoft and Google this year, as employees go public with their dismay about who their employers are selling the technologies they create to.

Meanwhile, Amazon has faced employee and shareholder criticism over its stance on selling its facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies, and for not doing enough to prevent and prepare for climate change.

This, in turn, has prompted discussions about how important it is for employees to ensure the tech firms they work for have values and ideals that align with their own.

3. Public sector cloud procurement routes broaden out

A sign, perhaps, of how comfortable the public sector is becoming with the use of cloud, a number of new procurement frameworks began to emerge in 2019, with many pitched as offering government departments, NHS trusts and schools a simpler and more straightforward means of buying cloud services.

The response from suppliers to the creation of these new procurement routes was mixed, with some claiming they devalued the incumbent G-Cloud procurement framework, whereas others said it highlighted just how instrumental the Digital Marketplace has been in normalising the use of cloud across the public sector.

4. Government mulls over scrapping cloud-first policy, before deciding against it

As news of these new procurement frameworks emerged, there were whispers that – perhaps – there was a feeling within the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) that G-Cloud had served its purpose.

And these concerns were heightened following Computer Weekly’s exclusive reveal that GDS and CCS had placed its cloud-first procurement policy for central governments under review. This is on the back of concerns that it had become outdated and needed to be replaced with some more hybrid-focused guidance.

Several months on, and GDS confirmed the policy would remain in place and unchanged because of how strong its “cloud-first” branding had become within government departments.  

5. UK government reaffirms commitment to using Oracle tech with cloud MoU

The cloud-first policy review was not the only example this year of the government opting out of messing with the status quo, as details emerged that CCS has reaffirmed its commitment to using Oracle’s cloud technologies by signing another memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the firm.

The deal is intended to make it easier and cheaper for public sector organisations to procure Oracle services, of which the company claims 800 of them already do.

6. All change at Google Cloud

Google’s multiyear efforts to make its cloud platform and services offerings more appealing to enterprises entered a new phase in 2019 with the appointment of ex-Oracle senior leader Thomas Kurian as CEO. 

The firm also moved to firm up its multicloud proposition to enterprises through the release of its management platform, Google Anthos, which it claims could end up defining and underpinning enterprise IT environments for the next 20 years.

7. OVH steps up its efforts to position itself as public cloud challenger

French infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) challenger OVH has spent the past few years carving out a niche for itself in the European public cloud market, but 2019 has seen a marked ramp up in its efforts to build out its presence beyond its native France.

This work has included a change of name, to OVHCloud, as part of a bigger repositioning exercise, geared towards marking the firm out as a local, European alternative to the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google.

8. Docker restructure sees enterprise platform business sold to open source cloud firm Mirantis

Docker, the company credited with popularising the concept of container technologies, has had a tricky time of it in recent years, and found much of the attention previously lavished on it by developers is now being directed elsewhere. Namely at Google-backed container orchestration provider Kubernetes.

This, in turn, has prompted the company to sell off its enterprise arm in November 2019 to open source cloud firm Mirantis, as part of a wider restructure of its business.

9. Financial services companies fast-track cloud use

This year has seen even more financial services companies set out plans to move more of their applications and workloads to the cloud, which is notable given that 10 or so years ago it was claimed the market was too highly regulated to ever fully embrace the technology.

Fast-forward to now, and adoption within this sector is continuing apace, thanks to the development of a supportive legislative landscape and a growing list of firms which have made the move off-premise successfully.

10. UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones steps down amid sexual misconduct allegations

The Manchester tech scene was rocked in October 2019 by the news that Lawrence Jones, CEO of local cloud computing firm UKFast, was stepping down and taking a leave of absence from the company following the publication of allegations of sexual misconduct in the national press.

Jones has vehemently denied all the allegations, and said he is taking some time out from the company so that the claims can be thoroughly investigated.

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