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The 10 Biggest Cloud Computing News Stories Of 2020 (So Far)

CRN breaks down the top cloud news midway through the year—from coronavirus-fueled cloud spending to cloud leaders decrying racial injustice to the explosion of cloud-based videoconferencing.

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1. Cloud Providers Helping Frontline COVID-19 Efforts

AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud also have stepped up to play critical roles during the coronavirus crisis by assisting first-responders, hospitals, drug developers and research efforts.

AWS is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) to use cloud technologies to track the virus, understand the outbreak and contain the spread. WHO has been leveraging the AWS cloud to build large-scale data lakes, aggregate epidemiological country data, rapidly translate medical training videos into different languages and assist global health-care workers as they treat patients. AWS made public its own AWS COVID-19 data lake as a centralized repository for up-to-date, virus-related information for use by experts. AWS also committed $20 million to support its AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, a program that helps customers focusing on accurate coronavirus diagnostic solutions.

Google Cloud said it’s working with the White House and other institutions to develop new text and data mining techniques to examine the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, an extensive collection of machine-readable coronavirus literature. Its support of health-care research includes making several coronavirus public datasets free to query, including the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering data, OpenStreetMaps data and the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey and OpenStreetMaps data. Google also provided $20 million in Google Cloud credits to academic institutions and research organizations that are studying potential coronavirus therapies and vaccines, tracking essential data and identifying ways to combat the virus.

Microsoft shifted the focus of its AI for Health initiative, launched in January, to helping front-line research of the coronavirus in five areas where it sees data, analysis and its data scientists’ skills having the biggest impact: data and insight related to people’s safety and economic impacts, treatment and diagnostics, resource allocation for assets such as hospital space and medical supplies, the dissemination of accurate information to minimize the sharing of misinformation, and scientific research. It allocated $20 million to the effort.

Microsoft also developed a health-care bot for the state of Washington’s Department of Health, front-line companies and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The bot stops websites from becoming overloaded and helps the public quickly assess coronavirus symptoms and risk factors and provides suggested next steps.

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