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The cloud news agenda has continued to be dominated by the activities of the hyperscale cloud giants, as they continue on their quest to get enterprise IT buyers to ditch their corporate datacentres for good and move their IT requirements off-premise.
A recurring theme among this year’s stories, though, is the impact this cloud-led evolution of enterprise IT buying habits is having on the supplier landscape, and sharpening the minds of regulators about paying more attention to how these firms behave.
With all this in mind, Computer Weekly takes a look at the top 10 cloud stories of 2016.
In April 2017, Computer Weekly exclusively uncovered details suggesting all may not be well at UK-based cloud collaboration firm Huddle, after documents filed with Companies House revealed it was facing up to a $5m shortfall in its finances.
News of the firm’s financial difficulties came as a shock to many, given Huddle has previously been hailed as an example of a UK tech startup success story, as well as a major beneficiary of the government’s G-Cloud framework.
The company has since acquired a new majority shareholder, and seen a number of its original management team during the interim, and questions about what the future holds for the company remain.
Tech leaders from several major open source cloud initiatives spoke out at the start of 2017 against president Donald Trump’s plans to ban individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days.
The ban, which Trump is still in the process of trying to push through, could be hugely damaging to the diversity of the US tech sector, and hinder its wider innovation potential.
This year has seen progress from all three of the big cloud firms in winning over the enterprise, with all announcing sizeable customer wins or new vertical markets they are seeing rapid adoption of their services within.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is by far and away the leader of the market, but Microsoft and Google are both gaining ground in the enterprise, as their 2017 run of financial results have served to neatly demonstrate.
While Amazon’s hold on the public cloud market showed no signs of weakening during 2017, Alibaba, has continued its ascent and started to emerge as a credible challenger to the big three of the public cloud market.
So much so, Gartner’s 2016 look-back at the performance of the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market – published in September 2017 – revealed the China-based cloud provider achieved a far higher revenue growth rate than Amazon, Microsoft or Google last year.
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) ended weeks of speculation about when the tenth iteration of the G-Cloud framework was set to go ahead, by confirming the next version could be delayed by up to 12 months.
In the lead up to the official announcement, a number of prominent G-Cloud suppliers outlined their apprehension about the implications of such a move, claiming it could stifle public sector IT innovation.
Following the completion of Rackspace’s purchase by private equity house Apollo Global Management in November 2016, which marked the end of the managed cloud provider’s nine-year run as a publicly traded company, the start of 2017 brought news of a senior management reshuffle.
Since then, the company has expanded its managed cloud portfolio of services from Amazon and Microsoft to include Google, and re-establish itself as a partner of these providers, rather than a competitor.
In a similar vein, 2017 has been big a year of change for VMware, with the firm selling off its public cloud business, and working to forge closer ties with AWS to deliver on its enterprise hybrid cloud vision.
This, in turn, taps into the firm’s cross-cloud strategy, which aims to allow enterprises to run their applications and workloads in public, private or on-premise environments that do not necessarily feature VMware technology.
Open source cloud platform, OpenStack, continues to go from strength-to-strength, with the firm talking up the emerging use cases for its technology, and some sizeable new customer wins.
Even so, the detractors continue to pour scorn on the endeavour by questioning the technology’s enterprise-readiness and its complexity; both criticisms the OpenStack Foundation has had a good stab at responding to this year, through the roll-out of new initiatives and innovations.
On 28 February 2017, a multi-hour episode of downtime served to highlight just how many people rely on Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to underpin their online services and systems.
According to AWS, the cause of the downtime was a typo, generated by an engineer while inputting a command. This in turn contributed to a larger-than-expected number of servers (hosted within the firm’s US East-1 datacentre region) falling offline.
During the course of the downtime, and for several days after, Twitter was full of people making light of the situation, and the fact a humble typo could prove so disruptive to the world’s biggest cloud provider.
Amazon, Apple and Microsoft finally threw their weight behind a government-backed push to get the cloud storage community to roll out fairer terms for users in February 2017, a year and a bit after the initiative’s launch.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed the trio had committed to altering their contract terms to protect users from unexpected price hikes or service terminations, after Google, and a number of noticeably smaller players, had already agreed to.
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