The 10 Biggest Cloud Computing News Articles Of 2018

High-profile acquisitions, prominent executive moves, and efforts to win clients led many cloud providers to take the gloves off in their ongoing battle for market supremacy.


2018: A Transformational And Tumultuous Year In Cloud

Since its inception roughly a decade ago, the cloud industry has evolved at a stunning pace. But 2018 stands out as a year of major upheaval.

A number of high-profile acquisitions, prominent executive moves, and efforts to win prestigious clients led many providers to take the gloves off in their ongoing battle for cloud supremacy.

The year started with technology giants working together in their efforts to contain the fallout from hardware vulnerabilities in Intel micro-processors deployed in almost every corporate and cloud data center.

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But the spirit of cooperation fostered by the Spectre/Meltdown threat didn't last long.

And nothing showcased the cutthroat dynamics of the industry like a massive military contract that produced a continual stream of accusations and recriminations that will almost certainly continue into 2019.

10. Amazon-Oracle Feud

"Uh huh, keep talkin' Larry," AWS CEO Andy Jassy (pictured) tweeted in November upon revealing Amazon had taken a major step toward its goal of entirely extricating itself from Oracle technology by migrating its data warehouse to AWS Redshift.

Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison seemed to be daring Amazon to dump his products. He had told investors in an earnings call that Amazon couldn't do it, and despite the enmity between the two companies was spending $50 million a quarter on Oracle database technology.

Ellison called attention at Oracle's OpenWorld conference to a "correction of error" report in which Amazon reportedly concluded an earlier move from Oracle to its native AWS Aurora PostgreSQL led to database degradation that "resulted in lags and complete outages" during Amazon Prime Day.

9. Pivotal Goes Public

Pivotal Software hit the New York Stock Exchange in April with an IPO that delivered a $3.9 billion valuation.

The high-flying Platform-as-a-Service developer, a spin-out of EMC and VMware that's the leading force behind the Cloud Foundry project, was looking to ramp its already substantial enterprise penetration as a publicly traded company.

While the infusion of capital will help fund ambitious partner enablement efforts, a growing base of systems integrators won't see any significant change in Pivotal's overall channel strategy, Pivotal CFO Cynthia Gaylor told CRN soon after the listing.

8. Salesforce Snags MuleSoft

In March, just about a year after MuleSoft went public, Salesforce revealed it had agreed to buy the integration software vendor.

The price tag of $6.5 billion made MuleSoft the biggest deal in the CRM leader's history.

By the time Salesforce's Dreamforce conference rolled around in September, Salesforce was ready to showcase MuleSoft as the core technology undergirding its new Salesforce's Integration Cloud.

7. AWS Goes On-Prem With Outposts

The public cloud leader stunned attendees of its re:Invent conference in November by unveiling an on-premises version of its cloud infrastructure that it would deploy and manage in its customers' data centers.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy, who famously predicted the end of private cloud, made the announcement during a keynote standing next to VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger.

AWS Outposts, the integrated hardware rack, will run native AWS or VMware environments that seamlessly connect to Amazon's public cloud.

VMware worked closely with Amazon to build the VMware variant, offering the same core components of VMware Cloud on AWS: vSphere compute virtualization, NSX virtual networking, and vSAN virtual storage.

VMware also has developed a solution to complement the AWS-native version of Outposts.

6. Microsoft Acquires GitHub

Once a fortress of proprietary software products with licenses enforced with an iron fist, Microsoft's pivot in recent years to embrace the open source community has surprised many industry watchers.

But even those that bought into Microsoft's narrative of change were taken aback in June by the software giant's deal for GitHub, the premier repository of open source projects.

Microsoft announced plans to buy the startup in an all-stock deal valued at $7.5 billion.

The company said it would leverage its ecosystem to accelerate enterprise use of the platform on which more than 28 million software developers share code and collaborate.

5. Thomas Kurian Exits Oracle, Enters Google

When Oracle President Thomas Kurian's departing letter to his staff became public, Oracle's repeated assertions that its highly respected product guru was taking "extended time-off" became hard to swallow.

Kurian used language suggesting his 22-year tenure in Redwood Shores had come to an end, telling his team "what a privilege it has been to work with all of you these past several years."

But Oracle spokespeople, including co-CEO Mark Hurd, maintained they expected Kurian back. That refrain finally crumbled with a September filing informing the SEC that Kurian left the company "to pursue other opportunities."

It became clear what those opportunities were two months later when Google named Kurian as Diane Greene's replacement to lead the Internet giant's cloud division.

4. Diane Greene Steps Down As Google's Cloud Leader

Diane Greene was viewed as something close to a savior when she stepped into the top job at Google Cloud in 2015.

Expectations were high on the former VMware CEO, seen as someone with the talent and experience necessary to infuse life into a cloud that despite its differentiating technical capabilities was underperforming against Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

After three years of efforts to impart enterprise chops on the third-largest hyper-scaler, Greene said in November she would step down by year end (though she will remain on the Alphabet board).

Partners have a mixed view of Greene's tenure—many credit her for making inroads in the Fortune 1000, but say she failed to nurture an ecosystem of ISVs to support the efforts of Google's channel.

3. Spectre/Meltdown Fallout

The year started in crisis mode as enterprise tech vendors collectively revealed to the public what they had known for months—ubiquitous Intel micro-processors had ingrained vulnerabilities that made possible side-channel attacks.

The two attack variants, taking the names of Spectre and Meltdown, were addressed soon after their public reveals with patches issued by almost every hardware, software and cloud services vendor.

But as fear of penetration subsided, another question stoked more concern—what was the extent of performance degradation that those tapestries of patches would cause?

Cloud providers didn't have precise answers, as the interplay of software and firmware workarounds across bare-metal, virtualized and containerized environments proved an extremely complicated puzzle.

Solution providers braced their customers for some workloads to be degraded by up to 30 percent.

2. JEDI Battles

The bidding process for a massive military contract to be awarded to a single cloud computing vendor sparked a seemingly endless series of complaints, recriminations and formal protests, drawing into the bitter dispute just about every name-brand IT company (except Google, which politely bowed out).

Oracle has been the most-vocal challenger to the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) RFP, going as far as suing the federal government while claiming inappropriate backroom deals with Amazon Web Services.

AWS is widely seen as the frontrunner for the winner-take-all, potentially $10 billion contract to modernize military infrastructure. But as the JEDI saga plays out, heavyweights like IBM, Microsoft and others are continuing to fight tooth-and-nail for a piece of the action.

1. IBM Claims Red Hat

This game-changing deal to be consummated some time next year has sent shockwaves throughout the cloud industry—which is just what IBM intended.

Like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said, her company's pending $34 billion acquisition of the leading open source software vendor and container-tech player is about becoming a dominant force in hybrid cloud.

What the ramifications of IBM's latest acquisition will be, however, are still largely speculative, and will depend much on how Big Blue chooses to play its hand once it owns several open source platforms used ubiquitously to facilitate multi-cloud environments.

The industry is already preparing for a wave of consolidation by providers looking to counter the threat.