The Big Read

Canada is the next front in Big Tech’s cloud wars

Illustrations by Hanna Lee

Arvind Krishna’s appointment last Thursday as the next CEO of IBM was a sign of the times.

Under its outgoing chief executive, Ginni Rometty, the century-old firm had made some moves to maintain its status as one of the world’s leading suppliers of business technology; Krishna, however, has spent the last few years on the front lines of that battle. As head of IBM’s cloud division, he was in direct competition against younger rivals Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

In a little over a decade, cloud technology—which provides businesses with essentials like software and data storage as a service, letting them save capital costs and run their operations over the internet—has become a key technology for every sector from finance to fashion. As a result, the rivalry between these four technology behemoths has become increasingly intense—epitomized most recently by Microsoft winning the US$10-billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract from the Pentagon, which prompted Amazon to file a court challenge, alleging bias; the company now risks its rivals winning new contracts opened by the CIA. The firms’ commitments to cloud computing show in their leadership—like Krishna, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella previously led his company’s cloud division—but these big American players have another thing in common: they’ve all identified Canada as the next frontier.

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