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Charlie Bell Leaves AWS for Rival Microsoft Azure

Plus, there’s an up-and-coming contender for SMB cloud market share. And JEDI’s replacement is moving along.

Kelly Teal

August 26, 2021

5 Min Read

News of the departure of Charlie Bell from Amazon Web Services earlier this month may have taken observers a little bit by surprise. The 15-year veteran of the world’s largest cloud computing provider had served as senior vice president, overseeing aspects including pricing and financial results. Now, he has moved on — and to AWS’ main competitor. How that will play out remains an open question. Check out our coverage below for more insight.

While you’re there, check out which company looks to be encroaching on the big three cloud vendors’ market share. In 10 years, this vendor could rule the SMB cloud market, if the predictions pan out.

Finally, while JEDI may be dead (long live JEDI), its successor appears to be on track. Recall that the multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure got tangled up in the courts. The new project, JWCC, will lean on a number of cloud providers. Find out what’s new in this week’s roundup of the most interesting cloud happenings.

Charlie Bell, Out at AWS, Lands at Rival Microsoft

CNBC has confirmed that Microsoft has hired Amazon Web Services’ Charlie Bell.

Bell left AWS earlier this month. That came after Adam Selipsky took over as the cloud computing provider’s CEO. Bell had worked at AWS for 15 years. He was widely expected to be the top candidate for the AWS CEO role after Jeff Bezos named Andy Jassy head of Amazon. Instead, Jassy chose Selipsky. The two had worked together for 11 years, building AWS before Selipsky left to run Tableau.


Charlie Bell

Bell’s move is an interesting one. Microsoft Azure is, of course, in perpetual second place to AWS, even as it has gained market share during the pandemic. Having Bell on board can give Microsoft more competitive insight. After all, Bell served as a member of the Amazon S-team, a group of key leaders who guide the company’s strategy. However, AWS is known to sue employees who take jobs with rivals. Microsoft has deep pockets so executives might be willing to shoulder the cost of a legal fight.

Or, Big Red may be waiting out non-compete terms. CNBC reports that Microsoft’s corporate directory shows Bell under Kathleen Hogan’s organization. Hogan acts as executive vice president and chief human resources officer. Given the expertise and experience Charlie Bell has, that seems an odd assignment, which could point toward the theory about letting a non-compete contract expire.

Could DigitalOcean Rise to the Top in the Cloud Sector?

When it comes to cloud computing choices, most SMBs know the big three: AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. But those vendors tend to target large enterprises and global organizations. SMBs often feel left out or underserved.

DigitalOcean may be changing that. The company is making significant waves (pun intended) among SMBs, to the point that The Motley Fool predicts DigitalOcean “could become a top name in the cloud industry in a decade’s time.”

SMBs thrive when they receive the right strategic consulting and technology platforms. DigitalOcean appears to be taking aim at that segment. In fact, in an interview with The Motley Fool, the New York-based vendor cites IDC research that shows SMBs with fewer than 500 employees will fuel cloud computing purchases. Analysts expect those SMBs to spend $116 billion per year by 2024.

DigitalOcean’s tactics appear on target. The company went public earlier this year at a price of $47 per share. On Thursday, by noon ET, its shares were trading at almost $58.

Partners who work with SMBs will want to take note. DigitalOcean sells through the channel — with ISVs, cloud resellers, managed hosting platform providers and managed service providers, in particular.

If you’re wondering about the vendor’s stability, look no further than The Motley Fool’s praise: “By virtue of how it’s structured, DigitalOcean has a fantastically efficient business model. … Factoring in a balance sheet that features $577 million in cash and equivalents and zero debt as of the end of June, DigitalOcean is in exceptionally good shape to continue growing along with its SMB and aspiring entrepreneur users.”

JWCC on Track to Field Solicitations in October

The contract that has replaced the Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project looks to be on schedule. The Pentagon’s top IT official said this week that the new cloud computing effort, called Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, will field its first solicitations in October. That’s according to C4ISRNET.

Unlike JEDI, JWCC will use multiple vendors. That was the biggest point of contention among providers including AWS, Azure, Oracle and IBM regarding JEDI. The $10 billion contract was to use just one vendor. And after the Pentagon awarded JEDI to Microsoft Azure, rather than to AWS, Amazon mounted a legal campaign that eventually led to the dissolution of JEDI.

JWCC will consider bids from both Microsoft and Amazon. Google, IBM and Oracle reportedly are in talks with the Pentagon, as the Defense Department seeks to confirm whether their capabilities meet its stringent requirements. The Pentagon intends to name its vendor awards by next April.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Kelly Teal or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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