“This week, our tech reporting team is exploring cloud computing — the big business of providing computing power and data storage that companies need, but which happens out of sight, as if it’s ‘in the cloud,'” Elise Hu reports for NPR. “It’s a timely topic, since there’s a price war going on as tech titans aim to control the cloud market. Amazon Web Services, an arm of the e-commerce giant, is the reigning king of large-scale cloud services. If you’ve ever watched streaming TV on Netflix, clicked on a Pinterest pin, or listened to music on Spotify, you’ve used Amazon Web Services, or AWS.”
“A decade ago, startups and other Internet companies had to set up their own data centers and computing backbones, which meant a serious capital investment up front and fairly fixed computing resources,” Hu reports. “Now, cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services or its competitors — Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure — provide that infrastructure by letting companies rent it out at a low cost. Think of it as the difference between generating your own power at home or just getting electricity from a grid.”
“Google recently slashed prices for its cloud services by 80 percent, starting a price war that the companies find themselves in now,” Hu reports. “Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others are competing to dominate the cloud. The winner or winners will have a lot of control over the Internet. Their choices affect issues like data privacy, and as virtual landlords, their terms and prices could control who gets to build what on the Internet, and for how much”
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