Which tech giant will become master of the cloud?

It's a race between Google and Amazon

Master of the cloud.
(Image credit: iStock)

By now most people are aware that the cloud is a bunch of computers that, while not literally in the sky, might as well be. Indeed, most people think of the cloud as simply the ability to store your files and run services through the internet. But those who really care about technology know that it's more than that: the giant server farms run by the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple also provide countless services to companies as well as individuals. And they're in a race to become master of the cloud.

But before we get into that, let's talk about how the cloud works. The most famous analogy comes from cloud pioneer and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. When electricity first appeared, a manufacturing company had to build its own power plant to run it. Utilities came along and allowed these same companies to buy electricity by the meter. It made sense for everyone, Bezos pointed out, since if you're a manufacturing company, you shouldn't be in the electricity business, and it shouldn't have to be your job to do it. Let an electricity company do it, and it'll do so much better. It's the same with companies and computing. Large companies need armies of IT staffers and large server farms to run databases and other software they need to do their job. But they're not in the software business, and they shouldn't be. That's the cloud: Instead of having to build your own power plant to run your factory — instead of having to build your own computer infrastructure to, say, sell insurance, or cars, or whatever — you just plug into the grid.

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Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry is a writer and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His writing has appeared at Forbes, The Atlantic, First Things, Commentary Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Federalist, Quartz, and other places. He lives in Paris with his beloved wife and daughter.