Top cloud news of 2019 from AWS, Microsoft, Google and Oracle

It's been quite a year for the major cloud providers, with product releases, lawsuits, layoffs and IT competitions. Review the biggest news stories of 2019 to see how 2020 will shape up.

In 2019, we saw a wide range of cloud news stories -- some more surprising than others. All eyes are on the top cloud vendors, such as AWS, Microsoft, Google and Oracle, to make the next move or misstep.

To prepare for the upcoming year, take a look back at the top cloud news of 2019 from AWS, Google, Microsoft and Oracle. Will vendor disputes affect the products that reach cloud admins who use them? How will the industry reimagine hybrid cloud, and cloud security, in 2020?

AWS faced a lawsuit from Elasticsearch

Back in October, Elasticsearch  -- also known as Elastic -- sued AWS for false advertising and trademark infringement in relation to AWS' release of its version of Elasticsearch distributed analytics and search engine. This conflict started in March 2019 when AWS, Expedia and Netflix launched Open Distro for Elasticsearch.

Elastic claims that the branding for both Amazon's managed service AWS Elasticsearch and Open Distro for Elasticsearch violate its trademark. According the lawsuit, by using the Elasticsearch mark, Amazon misled customers to believe that Elastic approves of or sponsors AWS's open source service. Elastic also alleges that AWS has wrongly represented the amicable relationship between the two companies.

As of late November, Amazon has responded, denying all claims from the lawsuit. Experts predict that a settlement between the two companies is likely and would be the best outcome for users.

Azure Arc debuted to cautious users

Microsoft unveiled its hybrid cloud offering, Azure Arc, this November but there was a subdued response from users at the Ignite conference.

This hybrid cloud offering enables users to control Windows and Linux server farms on premises through Azure's management features. Azure Arc users can also manage Kubernetes-based containers across a variety of infrastructure types. However, users want an out-of-the-box product with components that are as well-integrated as Microsoft marketed the service to be, which it does not currently have.

Some industry experts are still wary of jumping on this service without more research, and many are unsure how relevant it is for all Azure customers. Azure Arc is still in the early stages of development and Microsoft expects to see significant progress in 2020.

Google bolstered cloud security

With cloud security a top priority, Google continues to expand its capabilities to prevent insider attacks, protect data from a compromised hypervisor and mitigate threats from network vulnerabilities with confidential computing. Confidential computing is the isolation of applications in trusted execution environments. In early 2019, Google kicked off a contest, with cash prizes, to help advance the company's confidential computing efforts.

Google added encryption to its toolbelt back in 2018 with the launch of Asylo, its open source framework used to make container-based reserves that are compatible with Intel SGX-based hardware. Google's goal is to make Asylo hardware-agnostic.

While Dropout Labs, a company that offers a platform for secure, privacy-preserving machine learning, won the cash prize from Google's competition, the real success can be found within the community that was created around the Confidential Computing Challenge. Developers found a way to share ideas and knowledge with peers.

Oracle reshuffled for cloud personnel

To compete with the top cloud vendors -- AWS, Microsoft and Google -- Oracle laid off a large number of employees, to make room for fresh talent. Additionally, Oracle wants to advance its cloud technology and products, while phasing out some older offerings -- such as OCI Classic.

While Oracle representatives have declined to comment on specific details, it is clear that the company is looking to restructure development groups and balance its resources to focus on cloud products.

The actual number of positions affected is still unclear. Experts estimated it could have been anywhere from a few hundred to 14,000 employees. With over 600 open positions at Oracle posted online, all signs point to the fact that the company is looking for modern talent to expand its place in the cloud market.

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