A Cloud Wars Thanksgiving 2019 gratitude list
A Cloud Wars Thanksgiving 2019 gratitude list

For #1 Microsoft and other Cloud Powerhouses, a Thanksgiving Gratitude List

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With the warm and wonderful Thanksgiving season upon us, here’s a list of what the world-changing vendors on my Cloud Wars Top 10 should be thankful for.

#1 Microsoft should be grateful that former CEO Steve Ballmer loves pro basketball so much that he decided several years ago that it was time to buy an NBA basketball team and become its head cheerleader. No doubt there were other influences behind Ballmer’s exit, but the big payoff was that it paved the way for Satya Nadella’s ascent to CEO. And Nadella’s inspired vision and passionate leadership—not to mention his all-in commitment to the cloud—has turned Microsoft from wandering and aimless into the world’s pre-eminent technology company.

#2 Amazon should give a big thank-you to the many tens of millions of consumers around the world who flocked to its e-commerce site in such numbers that Jeff Bezos had to find a better way to handle severely spiking seasonal surges in IT horsepower. The cloud was the answer. AWS made it a global phenomenon. And now AWS is the most-profitable business unit in Amazon’s far-flung empire.

#3 Salesforce should thank Oracle’s Larry Ellison for being the boss, mentor, investor, competitor, rival and runner-up who just keeps on giving. Early in Benioff’s career at Oracle, Ellison recognized Benioff’s immense talents with a number of promotions. Ellison also became the lead investor when Benioff started Salesforce.com in 1999. Several years later, Ellison drove Oracle into the apps business and began competing with Benioff. But while Oracle remains the world’s dominant database supplier, Salesforce is far and away the leader in SaaS and CRM. 

#4 SAP needs to give thanks for the short-lived tenure of Leo Apotheker back in 2008. Because in his brief time at the helm, Apotheker showed what SAP needed to avoid in that role. And into the breach came Bill McDermott, whose decade-long leadership made SAP one of the most successful and influential tech companies in the world. That same sense of clarity on what a CEO should be—and must not be—clearly inspired chairman Hasso Plattner’s recent selection of co-CEOs Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein to replace McDermott.

#5 Oracle has to be very grateful that it has stayed true to a philosophy I first heard expressed by FedEx founder Fred Smith: “The big thing is to make sure the big thing stays the big thing.” For Oracle, that has been, is, and will continue to be the Oracle Database across all of its various forms. About 15 years ago, Oracle began buying its way into the apps business. 10 years ago, it bought its way via Sun into the hardware business. It’s now got a cloud business contributing about $7 billion in annual revenue (which is nice, but isn’t even half of what rival Salesforce will generate in revenue this year). With all those new pursuits, the Database continues to be the Big Difference-Maker for Oracle, particularly with its new cloud-native Autonomous Database.

#6 Google. This one’s easy: Google needs to thank the stars, the gods, the fortunes of war, or maybe a supremely gifted headhunter for connecting Thomas Kurian with Google Cloud a year ago following his departure from Oracle. Kurian has had a phenomenal impact on Google Cloud. In the past year, it’s moved up from #9 on the Cloud Wars Top 10 to #6, and I’ve hinted that it’s likely to keep moving up. 

#7 IBM has lots to be thankful for across 115 years of remarkable innovation and achievement—did you know it used to make and sell cheese-slicers?—but in the here and now, the acquisition of Red Hat seems to be a game-changing catalyst for which not only IBM but also its customers and partners should be grateful. The arrival of Red Hat has added more than a new product lineup for IBM. It’s brought with it a fresh willingness to focus on what customers want and need, and less on internal org charts. That is a huge Thanksgiving treasure.

#8 Workday. It’s would be kinda/sorta weird to say that Workday should be grateful to Larry Ellison. But you could look at it this way: if Ellison had not done a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft back in 2003, then Workday cofounders Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri might have stayed with PeopleSoft for years and years. And they might never have founded Workday. But that’s too weird, so I won’t even say it. Rather, Workday should be grateful that its two founders are still vibrantly involved and driving a company that has dazzled the world’s largest customers and defied the competitive challenges of some of the world’s largest tech companies.

#9 ServiceNow should send a thank-you card to Nike for recruiting CEO John Donahoe. Donahoe’s departure opened the door for ServiceNow to hire Bill McDermott as CEO after a momentous decade at SAP. Donahoe leaves behind an impressive 3-year legacy at ServiceNow, but McDermott’s laying the groundwork for some eye-popping growth and expansion.

#10 Accenture must be thankful for having powerhouse tech partners smart enough to steer clear from the services-side magic that Accenture can deliver. With about $10 billion in cloud revenue for calendar 2019, Accenture’s in a great position to continue to prosper from the cloud revolution. I, for one, would give thanks to Accenture if it would be willing to open up a bit more about all the great things it’s doing for customers in the cloud and beyond.

Closing Thought

The person who should really be grateful right now is yours truly. Because over the past year, the Cloud Wars have presented me with a fantastic opportunity to share some remarkable stories about how businesses, using the cloud vendors’ magic, are changing how the world lives, works, plays, learns and dreams. 

So please accept my hearty and deeply heart-felt thank you for spending some of your valuable time with us at Cloud Wars. And may you all have a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving!

Cloud Wars

Top 10 Rankings — Nov. 25, 2019

1. Microsoft — Major IaaS deal w/#3 Salesforce follows Q1 cloud revenue of $11.6B
2. Amazon — Can’t be happy about Salesforce moving Marketing Cloud to Azure IaaS
3. Salesforce — Big Dreamforce dreams: How Benioff Plans To Defeat Oracle and SAP
4. SAP — Life after McDermott: new co-CEOs unify priorities, push customer success
5. Oracle — Ellison and SAP both claim #1 spot in enterprise apps—which will it be?
6. Google — No Q3 cloud revenue details, but “significant growth” across the globe
7. IBM — Q3 cloud rev. up 14% to $5B; BofA says cloud has saved billions in IT costs
8. Workday — Exclusive: Aneel Bhusri is Workday’s “Pied Piper of Machine Learning”
9. ServiceNow — Bill McDermott takes over as CEO as Q3 revenue reaches $900M
10. AccentureNo longer breaking out cloud revenue but probably close to $10B

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