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Top 5 cloud news stories of 2020 -- so far

As cloud outages and acquisitions rolled on in early 2020, it seemed like the news cycle would never slow down. Review the top news articles to prepare for the rest of the year.

The first half of 2020 was unprecedented, in every sense of the word. Every country, company and person has been affected by the extreme changes created by the coronavirus pandemic and protective measures taken against it. With so many people working from home, IT vendors and cloud providers had to think and move quickly to adapt to user demands.

The top cloud news stories in the first half of 2020 all relate in some way to COVID-19. Whether it was a cloud outage or a recent acquisition, the global pandemic remains the common thread among the site's most read news.

In case you missed them, get the highlights of the top five cloud news stories to come out of 2020 thus far.

Google Cloud acquires mainframe migration expertise

With the acquisition of Cornerstone Technology, Google Cloud's drive for more large enterprise accounts has become clear. Cornerstone's main focus is automating the migration of mainframe workloads to the public cloud. While AWS and Microsoft also offer mainframe migration services, Google's addition of Cornerstone signals a move toward specialization there.

Mainframers are some of the most technically knowledgeable yet demanding user groups in IT, and Cornerstone is focused on meeting their specific needs, according to analyst Charles King. But Google is not the only vendor looking to add support of mainframe technologies -- IBM Z is already in the market.

Although IBM has attempted to bolster its Z installed base, King believes that Google may appeal to IT organizations looking for a flexible alternative to support workloads that are mainframe bound. The competition between Google and IBM is clear, but Google's approach here is to replace the mainframe out on the edge -- not replace mainframes entirely.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure focuses on cost, security

Oracle has shifted its cloud strategy in 2020. AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google dominate the public cloud market, with 60% of total market share, according to Synergy Research Group's Q2 2020 report, but Oracle is still in the fight. The company has a different approach to attract customers, pitching its cloud offerings around cost optimization toward its current, on-premises user base.

In combination with strong SLAs on manageability, performance and availability, Oracle boasts that its lower costs appeal to enterprises tightening their budgets in 2020. According to Larry Ellison, Oracle founder and chairman, users who switched from AWS to Oracle's second IaaS offering, IaaS Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), could see upwards of 50% savings.

Oracle's OCI is built as a migration target for its users' on-premises apps and databases -- a different approach than the top providers. Amazon, Microsoft and Google's clouds are designed for broad new and migrated cloud workloads.

VMware Cloud Foundation goes to Google Cloud

Thanks to a managed service deal between Google and VMware, Google Cloud users can now run VMware Cloud Foundation hybrid workloads. Just one year ago, VMware users gained access to run workloads natively on Google Cloud. These companies have deepened their relationship -- and could continue to do so.

The pandemic has caused IT organizations to adapt to the changing needs of their users and pay more attention to vendor relationships. Analysts aren't surprised that Google would target VMware for a partnership. The two companies excel in different but complementary positions of the cloud market.

With this deal in place, VMware users now have a variety of hosting options to choose from, which could actually make things too complex for some customers. Adding another cloud platform into an environment could be an endeavor that admins might not necessarily swing for during COVID-19's disruptions.

Cloud capacity under scrutiny in the face of usage spikes

On March 26, Microsoft Azure's European users were unable to spin up VMs, as Microsoft Azure encountered capacity issues caused by the spike in demand.

It seems Microsoft had some indication these problems were likely to occur, warning users in a blog post about capacity limits earlier in March, prior to the incident. Due to the pandemic, the company set up a prioritized list on how it would handle issues. First responders, as well as health and emergency management services, rightfully topped the list.

Cloud competitors did not experience similar capacity problems. AWS strives to stay ahead of its consumption to avoid outages when possible. Google's senior vice president of technical infrastructure took to Twitter to reiterate that its system was not stressed by the usage spike caused by the coronavirus.

However, the global pandemic has exposed a complex underlying reality for cloud providers -- they are a vital part of the national infrastructure.

SUSE reshapes the Kubernetes market

Another acquisition rounds out the top cloud new stories. Linux provider SUSE bought Rancher Labs, a well-known Kubernetes vendor. This move was driven by the Linux team's desire to build out capabilities to optimize users' management of their Kubernetes environments. Kubernetes' popularity for container orchestration and management continues to grow as more enterprises explore containers and how they can be used to benefit business.

SUSE acquired Rancher's open source products: Kubernetes distributions, multi-cloud management software and storage for containerized workloads. The tools enable SUSE to support container workloads across different types of cloud infrastructures.

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