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A look back at the top cloud computing news of 2018

From product releases to acquisitions, there was no shortage of cloud technology news in 2018. Take a look back at some of the biggest headlines of the year.

It was an eventful year for cloud computing news. Top providers continued to up their game and address enterprise demands, but also scrambled to respond to outages and cloud security threats.

Before you jump into the new year, look back at some of the top cloud headlines of 2018.

Meltdown and Spectre target cloud computing environments

In early January, a tech glitch posed a significant vulnerability to both cloud providers and their users.

Two security flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, exposed a wide range of devices and servers -- including those in cloud providers' data centers -- that use Intel, AMD and ARM chips.

"Will it be your PC? No. But going after the information in your data center could be well worth their while," said Jack Gold, president and principal analyst of J. Gold Associates LLC, back in January.

When the news broke, major cloud providers moved quickly to assess the effects of the flaws and to reassure users that they were largely protected. AWS' statement, for instance, promised that only a small percentage of its EC2 instances were unprotected, and that those instances would soon be fully barred from the vulnerability. Meanwhile, Google released a mitigation called Retpoline to protect against branch target injection attacks. IBM, Microsoft and others offered their own statements of reassurance and issued security updates to minimize the risk.

Google Cloud Services Platform moves hybrid approach on premises

In a move meant to satisfy enterprise demand for hybrid cloud technologies, Google revealed plans in July to extend some of its public cloud software to users' data centers.

The release of Google Cloud Services Platform marked a major shift in the provider's containers and microservices strategy, as those technologies became available for on-premises use. Google Cloud Services Platform specifically ties together Google Kubernetes Engine, Istio and Stackdriver.

Google had made a number of moves around hybrid cloud in the past, but Cloud Services Platform represented its most significant investment in the technology yet.

Azure outage spotlights cloud infrastructure choices

An Azure outage in September made major cloud computing news -- and also underscored the importance of a sound disaster recovery strategy.

The outage was the result of severe weather that caused hardware shutdowns in Azure's South Central U.S. region in San Antonio. The effect was widespread, hitting three dozen cloud services and Azure's status update page. It took up to two days for some services to restore operations.

Post-mortem reports suggested Microsoft's system dependencies, along with its redundancy model, might have exacerbated the issue. For example, Gartner analyst Lydia Leong pointed out at the time that most Azure regions comprise one, rather than multiple, data centers -- which can concentrate the risk of failures and shutdowns. Microsoft has, however, started to add more resiliency to its public cloud architecture this year through the introduction of Availability Zones.

IBM-Red Hat juggernaut targets hybrid clouds

Another major cloud computing news story this year was IBM's proposed $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat in late October.

Through the deal, IBM said it hopes to establish a dominant position in the hybrid cloud market, with the help of Red Hat's portfolio of open source technologies. According to the companies, Red Hat will operate as an independent entity within IBM's hybrid cloud business unit.

The deal sparked questions from customers around potential overlap of products and partnerships. For example, IBM's Cloud Foundry and Red Hat's OpenShift are both open source application development platforms.

That said, the acquisition, according to Red Hat and IBM, will ultimately benefit enterprise IT teams, as it will equip them with more options to build cloud-native apps and adopt multi-cloud architectures.

AWS Outposts amplify signals of a hybrid cloud world

In November, AWS emphasized its commitment to hybrid cloud with the launch of Outposts, an on-premises appliance that delivers the cloud provider's software stack to customers' local data centers.

This move was the latest, and biggest, step from AWS to embrace the hybrid cloud trend and deliver some of its services to on-premises environments. Like competing offerings, such as Azure Stack and Oracle Cloud at Customer, Outposts aims to simplify management and operations between enterprises' data centers and the public cloud.

Though many welcomed the emergence of AWS Outposts, others remained cautious about potential lock-in risks with the product.

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