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Logitech webcams in short supply amid coronavirus pandemic

Earlier this week, Jessica Mauerhan found herself in possession of two commodities that have recently grown scarce: a box of antiviral masks and a Logitech webcam.

Mauerhan, a software engineer based in McKinney, Texas, donated the masks to her local midwife’s office so they could continue delivering babies. She gave the webcam to a neighbor so he could begin working from home.

“Both offered to bring me toilet paper as payment,” she tweeted. “What a world we live in now.”

Logitech webcams and other cheap video conferencing devices have largely sold out worldwide as millions work and study from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. In many cases, buyers placing orders today will have to wait one month or longer to receive the equipment. Dell is telling U.S. customers it won’t be able to deliver one popular Logitech model until early July.

Headsets designed for workplace communications are also harder to come by than usual. On Microsoft’s online storefront, several popular Poly and Logitech headsets are currently on back order.

The shortage of these devices is frustrating students as they begin taking classes from home and healthcare providers as they look to set up virtual appointments with patients. Many businesses have been unable to equip their newly remote workforces with the webcams and headsets they need to participate in online meetings fully.

After many staffers began working from home earlier this month, Chapman University accelerated its rollout of Microsoft Teams. Webcams and headsets suddenly became essential tools for its workers. Fortunately, the school ordered a limited number of devices before they began selling out. But obtaining additional equipment has become nearly hopeless.

At first, the school thought it could merely reimburse employees who found the gear themselves. “But the reality is that’s almost impossible,” said Phillip Lyle, Chapman’s assistant vice president of enterprise and research infrastructure.

The shortage is doubtlessly tied to a surge in the usage of cloud-based video conferencing apps. Microsoft said its Teams collaboration app added 12 million daily active users between March 11 and March 18, a 37% increase. Cisco, meanwhile, said last week traffic to its Webex meeting service had tripled in the United States.

The current pandemic has disrupted IT supply chains because many electronic manufacturers are in China, where the epidemic started. China has stopped the spread of the virus, but manufacturers are recovering slowly. IDC recently reported that factories won’t be operating at full capacity until May or June.

Logitech, a leading provider of inexpensive webcams, wouldn’t say whether it was having a hard time getting its manufacturers to fulfill orders. In a statement, the company said it was attempting to increase production as quickly as possible in response to “extremely high demand” for its products.

Some resellers have started jacking up the prices of webcams. On Amazon, one merchant was selling a Logitech C920 high-definition webcam for $339.95 on Wednesday. The vendor’s suggested retail price is $79.99.

“It’s just like hand sanitizer in a lot of ways,” Lyle said.

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HashiCorp Nomad vs. Kubernetes matchup intensifies with 0.11

A HashiCorp Nomad beta release this week could help it encroach on Kubernetes’ territory with advanced IT automation for legacy applications and a simpler approach to container orchestration.

Hashicorp first released the open source workload orchestrator in 2015, a year after Kubernetes arrived in the market. But since then, Kubernetes has become the industry-standard container orchestrator, while Nomad Enterprise is HashiCorp’s least-used commercial product in a portfolio that also includes Terraform infrastructure as code, Vault secrets management and Consul service discovery.

These products are also commonly used in Kubernetes environments, and HashiCorp officials typically prefer to frame Nomad as complementary to Kubernetes, rather than a competitor. In the past, HashiCorp’s documentation has pointed out that past versions of Nomad orchestrated only compute resources, scheduling workloads on separately managed underlying resources. This made for a simpler but less complete approach to workload automation, as previous versions of Nomad did not handle networking and storage for application clusters, as Kubernetes does.

However, with version 0.11, released in beta this week, HashiCorp Nomad’s storage features draw closer to those offered by Kubernetes. The new capabilities include support for shared storage volumes through the open source Container Storage Interface (CSI), a set of APIs supported by most major storage vendors. CSI is most commonly used with Kubernetes, but any CSI plugins written to work with Kubernetes will also work with HashiCorp Nomad as of version 0.11.

HashiCorp Nomad version 0.11 also introduces horizontal application autoscaling capabilities, as well as support for task dependencies in cases where application components must be deployed in a certain order on a container cluster.

“[Nomad] can still coexist with Kubernetes, especially for legacy applications when customers prefer to use Kubernetes for containers,” said Amith Nair, VP of product marketing at HashiCorp. “But the [new] features make it a more direct comparison, and we’re starting to see increased usage on the open source side, where some customers are downloading it to replace Kubernetes.”

In the last six months, open source downloads of HashiCorp Nomad have doubled each month to reach 20,000 per month, Nair said. A hosted Nomad cloud service also remains on the company’s long-term roadmap, which would likely compete with the many hosted Kubernetes services available.

HashiCorp Nomad seeks app modernization niche

Most of HashiCorp Nomad’s workload orchestration features can be used to modernize legacy applications that run on VMs. Nomad’s scheduler, when used with Consul service discovery, can optimize how applications on VMs and containers use underlying resources. With version 0.11’s CSI support, HashiCorp Nomad can perform non-disruptive rolling updates of both container-based and VM-based applications.

Such features may put HashiCorp Nomad in closer competition with IT vendors such as VMware, which offers Kubernetes container orchestration alongside VM management. HashiCorp has an uphill battle in that market as well, given VMware’s ubiquity in enterprise shops. But as with Kubernetes, HashiCorp Nomad could capture some attention from IT pros because of its simplicity, analysts said.

Nomad can infiltrate the same market as VMware’s Project Pacific and Tanzu with a low-cost alternative for users that want to manage traditional workloads and cloud-native workloads with one entity.
Roy IllsleyAnalyst, Omdia

“Nomad can infiltrate the same market as VMware’s Project Pacific and Tanzu with a low-cost alternative for users that want to manage traditional workloads and cloud-native workloads with one entity,” said Roy Illsley, analyst at Omdia, a technology market research firm in London. “The challenge is that HashiCorp hasn’t been great at marketing — tech people know it, but tech people don’t necessarily sign the checks.”

With a recent $175 million funding infusion for HashiCorp, however, that could change, and HashiCorp could play a role similar to Linkerd, a service mesh rival to Google and IBM’s Istio that has held its own in the enterprise because many consider it easier to setup and use.

HashiCorp Nomad vs. Kubernetes pros and cons

Two HashiCorp users published blog posts last year detailing their decision to deploy Nomad over Kubernetes. The on-premises IT team at hotel search site Trivago moved its IT monitoring workloads to the public cloud using Nomad in early 2019. Trivago’s IT staff already had experience with HashiCorp’s tool and found Kubernetes more complex than was necessary for its purposes.

“The additional functionality that Kubernetes had to offer was not worth the extra efforts and human resources required to keep it running,” wrote Inga Feick, a DevOps engineer at Trivago, based in Dusseldorf, Germany. “Remote cloud solutions like a managed Kubernetes cluster or [Amazon ECS] are not an option for our I/O-intense jobs either.”

Another freelance developer cited Nomad’s simplicity in a November 2019 post about porting a project to Nomad from Kubernetes.

“Kubernetes is getting all the visibility for good reasons, but it’s probably not suitable for small to medium companies,” wrote Fabrice Aneche, a software engineering consultant based in Quebec. “You don’t need to deploy Google infrastructure when you are not Google.”

Both blog posts noted significant downsides to HashiCorp Nomad vs Kubernetes at the time, however.

“Nomad is one binary, but the truth is Nomad is almost useless without Consul,” Aneche noted in his post. This adds some complexity to HashiCorp Nomad for production use, since users are required to use Consul’s template language to track changes to the Nomad environment. Version 0.11 adds more detailed insights and alerts to a Nomad remote execution UI to make service management easier. Aneche did not respond to requests for comment about the version 0.11 release this week.

Meanwhile, Trivago’s Feick noted the lack of support for autoscaling in January 2019 made HashiCorp Nomad cumbersome to manage at times.

“You need to specify the resource requirements per job,” she wrote. “Give a job too much CPU and memory and Nomad cannot allocate any, or at least not many, other jobs on the same host. Give it not enough memory and you might find it dying… It would be neat if Nomad had a way of calculating those resource needs on its own. One can dream.” Feick didn’t respond to requests for additional comment this week.

HashiCorp Nomad version 0.11 takes the first step toward full autoscaling support with horizontal application autoscaling, or the ability to provide applications with cluster resources dynamically without manual intervention, a company spokesperson said.

Subsequent releases will support horizontal cluster autoscaling that adds resources to the cluster infrastructure as necessary, along with vertical application autoscaling, which will add and remove instances of applications in response to demand. Autoscaling features will work with VM workloads but are primarily intended for use with containers.

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Coronavirus: Surge in remote work strains Zoom services

Zoom has struggled to keep some of its services online this week amid a spike in remote work because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Users have had to wait significantly longer than usual to access recordings of Zoom meetings in the cloud. The company said its engineering team was working to resolve the issue, attributing the backlog to “excessive demand.”

Zoom’s dial-in numbers have also faltered several times this month. Elevated traffic has so far clogged audio lines in Japan, New York and Hong Kong, forcing users to connect to a meeting’s audio using the internet. A dial-in number in Australia was also inaccessible at times this week. 

Meanwhile, some users were intermittently unable to make and receive calls through Zoom Phone, the vendor’s cloud telephony service, for extended periods of time this week.  

Users have now dealt with 18 non-scheduled Zoom service disruptions in March. There were no such incidents in January and just one in February (an issue that affected only subscribers in Brazil).

In a statement, Zoom said it was working to find a “long-term, sustainable solution” to the issues affecting Zoom Phone. The company thanked customers for their “patience and understanding” during an “unprecedented and challenging time for everyone.”

Zoom is not the only collaboration vendor struggling to cope with a sudden surge in usage. Many users of Microsoft Teams were unable to send messages and perform other tasks on Monday. Some Teams users in Europe were affected by another chat outage on Tuesday.

Last week, experts said they didn’t expect any of the major collaboration vendors to suffer outages that forced their services completely offline for multiple days. So far, that prediction has held. Nevertheless, the influx of remote workers is having some impact.

Zoom has not said how many new users it has gained in recent weeks, but its mobile client is now the most popular free download on Apple’s App Store. Notably, countless schools and universities worldwide have begun to hold virtual classes on Zoom.

Statistics shared by other vendors provide clues to the surge in traffic Zoom is likely dealing with. Microsoft Teams gained 12 million daily active users between March 11 and March 18, a 37% increase. Slack added paid customers at nearly three times its typical rate between Feb. 1 and March 18.

Zoom’s support team is also likely fielding complaints related to factors outside of the vendor’s control, such as the quality of a user’s home Wi-Fi. Residential connections are often less reliable than corporate networks.

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For Sale – 8GB HyperX Fury DDR4 RAM

Only used for one week as I upgraded my ram shortly after buying my new computer
2x4GB sticks 2400mhz
Comes in box

Looking for £30 including 1st class recorded delivery Royal mail

Accept PayPal and bank transfer

Location
West Midlands, UK
Price and currency
£30
Delivery cost included
Delivery Is Included
Prefer goods collected?
I have no preference
Advertised elsewhere?
Not advertised elsewhere
Payment method
Bank transfer or paypal

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Researchers develop new side channel attacks on AMD chips

The steady stream of side channel attacks on microprocessors continued last week, and this time it’s AMD chips that are at risk.

Academic researchers published research Friday that revealed two new side channel attacks, dubbed Collide+Probe and Load+Reload, affect AMD chips manufactured between 2011 and 2019, including those that use the company’s current Zen microarchitecture. The attacks allow threat actors to access and steal confidential data from the chip’s memory.

In their white paper, titled “Take A Way: Exploring the Security Implications of AMD’s Cache Way Predictors,” the researchers analyzed AMD’s way predictor for the L1-data (L1D) cache, which was introduced in 2011; the feature predicts which cache way a specific address will be located in so that the chip’s power consumption is reduced. The research team reverse-engineered the L1D cache way predictor and discovered two different side channel attacks, which were disclosed to AMD on Aug. 23.

“With Collide+Probe, an attacker can monitor a victim’s memory accesses without knowledge of physical addresses or shared memory when time-sharing a logical core,” the team wrote. “With Load+Reload, we exploit the way predictor to obtain highly-accurate memory-access traces of victims on the same physical core.”

The attacks, which can be conducted remotely and do not require physical access, could be used in a variety of ways to leak or steal data from systems with vulnerable chips, according to the white paper. The researchers demonstrated how they used the attacks to recover the encryption key, create a covert data exfiltration channel, and break address space layout randomization (ASLR) and kernel ASLR implementations, which enables additional attacks on the CPU.

The researchers stressed the chip hardware wasn’t leaking data; instead, the L1D cache way predictor allows attackers to infer the access pattern of data and exploit that information for malicious purposes. The new side channel attacks are exclusive to AMD chips, as Intel and ARM do not have a cache way predictor.

The research team includes Moritz Lipp, Vedad Hadžić, Michael Schwarz and Daniel Gruss of Graz University of Technology in Austria; Clémentine Maurice of the French National Centre for Scientific Research and IRISA [Research Institute of Computer Science and Random Systems] in France; and Arthur Perais, an independent security researcher. Lipp, Schwarz and Gruss were part of the Meltdown and Spectre discovery teams and have been researching side channel attacks such as ASLR bypasses since 2016. Maurice was also involved in discovering and researching early side channel attacks such as Rowhammer variant Nethammer.

AMD pushes back on research

While Collide+Probe and Load+Reload pose serious threats to vulnerable systems, several of the researchers said via social media that the side channel attacks are not a severe as Meltdown and Spectre. For example, Gruss said on Twitter Collide+Probe and Load+Reload impact far less data than Meltdown and ZombieLoad.

In a security advisory posted Saturday, AMD appeared to downplay the new side channel attacks. “We are aware of a new white paper that claims potential security exploits in AMD CPUs, whereby a malicious actor could manipulate a cache-related feature to potentially transmit user data in an unintended way. The researchers then pair this data path with known and mitigated software or speculative execution side channel vulnerabilities,” the security advisory stated. “AMD believes these are not new speculation-based attacks.”

AMD has not released any microcode patches to mitigate Collide+Probe and Load+Reload and instead recommended customers follow “best practices” such as keeping operating systems, firmware and applications up to date and running antivirus software.

Gruss contested AMD’s characterization of the attacks and noted via Twitter that Collide+Probe and Load+Reload are side channel attacks, not “speculative execution attacks.”

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Honeywell quantum computing system passes IBM out of the gate

Honeywell International Inc. jumped into the quantum computing race this week with a system that uses trapped ion technology.

The new Honeywell quantum computing system, which has a Quantum Volume of 64 , is double that of existing quantum systems from companies such as IBM and D-Wave Systems. The company expects to deliver the system in 90 days.

The company attributes the system’s 64 rating to its new quantum charge coupled device (QCCD) architecture, which will allow Honeywell to increase its Quantum Volume by an order of magnitude each year for the next five years.

“The performance metric the [quantum computing] community is agreeing on now is Quantum Volume,” said Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell’s quantum solutions group. “We have seen over time that it matters more how low an error rate your system has, not just how many physical qubits you have. The right question to ask is how many effective qubits do you have.”

Honeywell chose the trapped ion approach, which is similar to the approach startup IonQ employs in its quantum system, because it allows you to start with “a perfect qubit,” Uttley said.

“When you start with a perfect qubit in your system, any errors that then occur can be more easily traced back to things you put into the surrounding infrastructure,” Uttley said. “What Honeywell is good at is taking a systems engineering approach to complex system design, so we are aware of all the potential entry points of error.”

Some analysts believe the new QCCD architecture the system uses could give Honeywell at least a temporary lead in the game of performance leapfrog many quantum system makers find themselves in. But Honeywell will have to keep leaping if they hope to maintain that lead over time.

“They have to do some things beyond the [QCCD architecture] in order to achieve these huge Quantum Volume numbers they are talking about, like and integrating more capabilities at the chip level,” said Paul Smith-Goodson, analyst-in-residence for quantum computing at Moor Insights & Strategy. “But what they have right now looks pretty solid going forward.”

They have to do some things beyond the [QCCD architecture] in order to achieve these huge Quantum Volume numbers … but what they have right now looks pretty solid going forward.
Paul Smith-GoodsonAnalyst-in-residence for quantum computing, Moor Insights & Strategy

The technologies in the new Honeywell quantum computing system began development 10 years ago, according to Uttley. Some of those technologies are borrowed from its various control systems, a market the company has built a reputation in decades ago.

“As [quantum systems] get bigger and start to resemble process control plants, that plays to our core strength,” Uttley said. “Being able to control massively complex systems in a way that simplifies an operation you need to do is something we have a long history with.”

Another analyst agreed that Honeywell’s expertise in developing and manufacturing control systems gives them a technology advantage over quantum computing competitors that have never ventured into that business.

“Their experience in precision manufacturing and environmental controls should allow them to create a quantum system that blocks out more environmental noise which, in part, helps them achieve higher Quantum Volume,” said James Sanders, a cloud transformation analyst with 451 Research.

Along with the new system, Honeywell’s venture capital group, Honeywell Ventures, has made an investment in Cambridge Quantum Computing and Zapata Computing Inc., both producers of quantum software and quantum algorithms that will work jointly with Honeywell. Cambridge Quantum Computing focuses on a number of markets including chemistry, machine learning and augmented cybersecurity. Zapata’s algorithms focus on areas such as simulation of chemical reactions, machine learning and a range of optimization problems.

“We already work in vertical markets we believe will be profoundly impacted by quantum computing, like the aerospace, chemicals, and oil and gas industries,” Uttley said. “We already have domain experts in areas now that will focus on use cases applicable to quantum computing.”

The company is also partnering with JPMorgan Chase to develop quantum algorithms using Honeywell quantum computing. Last fall, Honeywell announced a partnership with Microsoft that will see the software giant provide cloud access to Honeywell’s quantum system through Microsoft Azure Quantum services.

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Istio service mesh revamp may ease use, or sow confusion

A new version of the Istio service mesh rolled out this week introduces significant changes to the project’s architecture but leaves key questions about the project’s future direction unanswered.

Istio service mesh version 1.5 introduces Istiod, a monolithic package that combines what had been four separate control plane microservices into one utility. These include a sidecar injector service; the Pilot service, which handled sidecar proxy configuration; Citadel, which provided security functions, including a certificate authority; and Galley, which performed validation.

A fifth set of modules and plugins provided by the Mixer telemetry collection service within the Istio control plane in previous versions will shift to a new set of plugins for the Envoy sidecar with version 1.5.

Istio, an open source project founded by Google, IBM and Lyft, has developed a popular approach to service mesh, a network architecture that collects monitoring data and enforces fine-grained policies in complex microservices environments. It boasts powerful backers that now also include Red Hat, but has yet to achieve the same dominance over the cloud-native software market as Kubernetes container orchestration. In fact, Istio rival Linkerd has been profiting from its competitor’s reputation for cumbersome management for at least a year, and steadily closing Istio’s early lead with support for features such as mutual TLS (mTLS).

Team leads at IBM want to see Istio enjoy the same ubiquity as Kubernetes, and this desire informed the significant changes in Istio 1.5. Removing the Mixer service, which had been associated with performance bottlenecks in earlier versions, is also intended to improve Istio’s control plane performance and boost its appeal to a wider audience.

“We want Istio to be like Kubernetes — ‘boring’ infrastructure for microservices,” said Lin Sun, IBM’s technical lead for Istio. “That’s our high-priority goal for 2020: To be able to move services to service mesh faster without [requiring] as many configuration changes to microservices.”

In the short term, the change is likely to cause tumult in the industry, which is still in the early stages of service mesh adoption, analysts said.

There is irony in [adding] a monolith for a service mesh whose purpose is to discover, connect and do traffic management for microservices.
Brad CasemoreAnalyst, IDC

“There is irony in [adding] a monolith for a service mesh whose purpose is to discover, connect and do traffic management for microservices,” said Brad Casemore, analyst at IDC. “It may cause some folks to say, ‘If they were off on their assumptions about a microservices-based architecture for the service mesh, can I be confident they’ll manage to get it right this time?'”

Brad CasemoreBrad Casemore

It will take until at least version 1.6 for all of Istiod’s features to reach feature parity with the previous microservices architecture, particularly in multi-cluster environments. The newly unified Istiod daemon doesn’t yet support Citadel’s certificate authority or the sidecar injection service. Users at KubeCon who intended to deploy Tiller-less Helm v3 with newer versions of Istio will also have to wait for future releases, as the finer details of Helm v3 support under Istiod have yet to be finalized.

IBM’s Sun said she doesn’t expect many technical hurdles to implementing these features by the next release, but Istio’s core audience is accustomed to the microservices architecture. These early adopters may chafe at the sweeping changes to the platform, particularly if they must wait too long for the new architecture to match the capabilities of earlier versions, Casemore warned.

“Simplified management will appeal to shops whose platform teams are not as adept [as early adopters], but I wonder if it sends a mixed message,” he said.

Another potential challenge for the next few versions of Istio service mesh lies in the transition to the new Envoy-based mechanism for integrating third-party extensions to the project. Documentation for the Mixer adapter conversion process to Envoy plugins is still being developed, Sun said. The success of this transition will dictate whether third-party makers of network infrastructure products such as application delivery and ingress controllers continue to support Istio service mesh or switch their loyalties to a competing alternative, another possible blow to Istio’s market momentum.  

The project also faces broader, longer-term questions about its governance — namely, whether it will be donated to a foundation such as the CNCF by Google, as Kubernetes was.

Istio contributors including IBM’s Sun have put forth a governance proposal to Google that would rework the project’s charter and widen the steering committee to include vendors and users beyond today’s members from Google, IBM and Red Hat. Sun declined to share any further specific details about the charter changes. Donating Istio to a foundation remains non-negotiable for now, she said.

“It’s something we don’t like, but we spent a lot of time within IBM on the new steering charter, and most of our proposals were accepted,” she added.

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For Sale – Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 i5 8gb 256gb 13.5”, cobalt blue colour

As title says

have this laptop for sale. Was bought only last week and not registered with Microsoft yet so all the warranty available

really sleek looking and light laptop with great screen and keyboard

used and will be sticking to Mac OS!

excellent condition fully boxed

will get photos up in the next day or two

looking for £850 delivered
NOW 750 DELIVERED

pics attached

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For Sale – Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 i5 8gb 256gb 13.5”, cobalt blue colour

As title says

have this laptop for sale. Was bought only last week and not registered with Microsoft yet so all the warranty available

really sleek looking and light laptop with great screen and keyboard

used and will be sticking to Mac OS!

excellent condition fully boxed

will get photos up in the next day or two

looking for £850 delivered
NOW 750 DELIVERED

pics attached

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Google Cloud retail strategy provides search, hosting, AI for stores

NEW YORK — Google made a pitch to chain-store brands this week, taking on Microsoft Azure and AWS with a bundle of fresh Google Cloud retail hosting and services, backing it up with blue-chip customers.

In sessions at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian and Carrie Tharp, retail and consumer vice president, wooed retailers with promises of AI, uptime and search expertise — including voice and video, in addition to traditional text content — as well as store employee collaboration tools.

Home improvement chain Lowe’s said it will embark on a multiyear plan to rebuild its customer experience, both in-store and online, with Google Cloud at its center. Lowe’s plans to spend $500 million per year through 2021 on the project.

Kohl’s, Ulta Beauty’s business drivers

“Customers expect retailers to be as good with their tech as they are with their physical stores,” said Paul Gaffney, CTO of Kohl’s. The 1,060-store chain launched a major overhaul of its digital customer experience and IT infrastructure in 2018 with Google Cloud retail services, and plans to migrate 70% of its apps into Google Anthos.

Retailers need cloud services that create value for their brands among its customers, Gaffney said, but uptime and scalability is also a major consideration during peak selling times.

“The big rush of business used to be Black Friday, last year was the Cyber Five [Thanksgiving until the following Monday], and now seems like the months of November and December,” Gaffney said in a session with Kurian. “Folks who have been doing this a long time know that we all used to provision a lot of gear that lay idle other than during that period.”

Ulta Beauty, which operates 1,124 stores, chose the Google Cloud Platform for its Ulta Rewards loyalty program hosting and customer data handling, said Michelle Pacynski, vice president of digital innovation at Ulta. The program has 33.9 million members and drives 95% of Ulta’s sales, she added.

Ulta chose Google in part for its data, analytics and personalization platform, Pacynski said. But data ownership also weighed heavily in the decision.

“We looked at the usual subjects, who you would think we would look at,” Pacynski said. “Ultimately for us, we wanted to own our data, we wanted to have power over our data. We evaluated everybody and looked at how we could remain more autonomous with our data.”

Google Cloud retail taking on Azure, AWS

Google’s charge into the retail space started last year with the introduction of retail-specific services to manage customer loyalty, store operations, inventory and product lifecycle management. At NRF 2020, Google added search, AI and hosting services to that stack. It’s part of Google’s bigger push into verticals, Tharp said.

Really, where we see the future of cloud capabilities is in industry-specific solutions.
Carrie TharpRetail and consumer vice president, Google Cloud

“[Google] Cloud started as an infrastructure-as-a-service play,” Tharp said. “Really, where we see the future of cloud capabilities is in industry-specific solutions — having a deep understanding of the industry and building products specific to that. We’re constructing our entire organization around these industry-specific solutions.”

Tharp and some industry experts at NRF said that some retailers harbor resentment toward Amazon as a competitor and are looking for cloud partners other than AWS for future projects. But that is changing, as stores realize that offering Amazon-like speed of delivery and customer service in general is a more important business priority than beating Amazon.

Still, there’s enough anti-Amazon sentiment among retailers that Google has an opportunity to expand its foothold, said Sheryl Kingstone, 451 Research analyst.

“We’re seeing Google Cloud Platform pop up as one of the strategic vendors retailers are looking for in their digital transformations,” Kingstone said. “Azure is up there, and AWS is the 800-pound gorilla. But in the retail space, there’s that opportunity of stealing away someone who is very concerned about being on AWS.”

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