The cloud wars

Here’s something interesting:

Microsoft’s tactics to win cloud battle lead to new antitrust scrutiny | Financial Times

At the heart of the controversy is a change to Microsoft’s licensing terms made in October 2019. The change affected the way the company charges for products such as Office when they are running in the data centres of Amazon Web Services, Google and Alibaba ⁠— so-called “hyperscale” cloud services that compete with Microsoft’s Azure.

Microsoft has so far eluded the “regulatory scrutiny” and may well be assisting the regulators against its competitors (Google/Amazon). It also sides with a loosely federated “industry association”. There are complaints from large customers about the change in the licensing terms.

However, the more things change, nothing appears to change. If the large customers have the clout, they can fund the open source applications and utilise them without tying themselves in knots. Cloud services are not a reliable alternative to on-premises hardware. If there is a problem, it comes wrapped up in solutions at the outset.

Something more:

Charging higher prices for using its software in rival clouds is only one way Microsoft has tried to steer more customers to its own cloud platform, according to critics. Other licensing terms, and the ending of technical support for certain services, added to pressure on customers to move to Azure, they said.

Another tactic that has come under fire ⁠— and also one also under review by the EU ⁠— involves bundling, or packaging a number of services together in a single product, even if many customers only require one element.

A review by the EU (or their imposed fines) does nothing. It gets appealed, out of court settlement or delayed until the judge who imposed the fine retires or the policies change. There are myriad ways out of the loophole and anti-trust appear toothless in the face of resolve by the C-suite executives. It is the “cost of doing business” and shareholders are “okay with that”. It only offers the grist for the Financial Times to write about (repeatedly) or they will be rendered useless. Hence, I am not holding my breath. These companies have grown too big to be regulated; unless the legal process changes.

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