Oracle insiders say there’s a ‘culture of fear’ in a key cloud unit, and executives are leaving

Oracle Executive Vice President Clay Magouyrk
Oracle Executive Vice President Clay Magouyrk.

Clay Magouyrk, a former Amazon software engineer who joined Oracle as an individual contributor in 2014, quickly impressed Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison and CEO Safra Catz with his ability to deliver results quickly.

That’s led to a rapid ascent through the ranks: Magouyrk was last year appointed to take over Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, the company’s best hope to take on Amazon in the cloud wars – a unit of over 10,000 employees that people close to the company say brings in about $1 billion a year in revenue.

But the reign of Magouyrk has raised questions about Oracle’s culture. Magouyrk’s leadership style was cited in a pair of lawsuits filed by former vice presidents against the company and an executive, including an allegation that he once told an executive that his actions were “f—ing stupid” in front of all of OCI’s senior leaders. One of the former vice presidents who sued Oracle died by suicide in April. Oracle is seeking to force both cases into private arbitration.

Oracle insiders who spoke with Insider said the comments alleged in the lawsuit were generally “tame” compared with others Magouyrk had made. One former employee said that Magouyrk was “abusive to people in large group settings. It was never, ‘Stay after the meeting and let’s have a conversation.’ If he was upset, he would insult you personally and professionally.”

“He’d drive grown men to tears, and then just be like, ‘Jesus f—ing Christ,'” that former employee said.

All told, a dozen current and former Oracle employees and executives said there was what one person described as a “culture of fear” at OCI, telling Insider that Magouyrk is known for trying to get results by “beating down” employees emotionally. One employee said they were told during the interview process that they were going to want a “fear buddy” to turn to when they inevitably thought they were going to get fired.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were concerned speaking out might negatively affect their careers. Oracle declined to comment on Magouyrk’s management style or OCI’s culture.

Click here to read about what insiders said is a “culture of fear” inside Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, the unit that’s Oracle’s best hope to compete with Amazon in the cloud wars.

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Google urged to halt cloud-computing project in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns

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Dakar Rally organizers stand in front of a screen displaying images of Saudi King Salman, right, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during a presentation in Dakar village, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

  • In December 2020, Google announced it would build a cloud-computing center in Saudi Arabia.
  • Critics fear that could allow Saudi authorities to more easily access user data.
  • Human rights groups are calling on Google to halt work on the project.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Silicon Valley tech giant could end up enabling one of the world’s worst human rights abusers to better spy on its citizens, human rights campaigners said Wednesday.

When Google announced last year that it had finalized an agreement to build a major new cloud-computing center in Saudi Arabia, the company said the move would allow businesses there to “confidently grow and scale their offerings in this market.”

The company opened the first such centers, known as Google Cloud regions, in 2020, starting with the US, Indonesia, and South Korea. It also announced plans to open them in Spain, France, Italy, and Qatar.

But in a statement, critics said that setting up shop in Saudi Arabia could end up bringing more than just faster data transfer speeds to its clients, including Saudi Aramco, a state-owned oil company.

“In a country where dissidents are arrested, jailed for their expression and tortured for their work – Google’s plan could give the Saudi authorities even greater powers to infiltrate networks and gain access to data on peaceful activists and any individual expressing a dissenting opinion in the Kingdom,” Rasha Abdul Rahim, director of Amnesty Tech, said in a press release.

The backlash underscores the difficulties Google faces in its aggressive pursuit of cloud computing, as the push into more markets risks tangling the company up in geopolitical quandaries.

The communique, signed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others, calls on Google to “immediately halt” work on the project until the company “can publicly demonstrate how it will mitigate adverse human rights impacts.”

The stated fear among campaigners is not that Google will directly assist Saudi authorities’ attempts to silence dissent, but that those authorities have shown no qualms about infiltrating technology companies – and demanding that they hand over user data. In at least one case, the Saudi government appears to have placed spies within a US social media company, Twitter, to obtain information it could not get through legal means.

The US State Department, in a 2020 human rights report, noted that Saudi authorities “frequently attempted to identify and detain anonymous or pseudonymous users and writers who made critical or controversial remarks.” The Saudi government “regularly surveilled websites, blogs, chat rooms, social media sites, emails, and text messages,” the report noted, and a counter-terrorism law grants authorities the right to circumvent legal protections to access someone’s “private communications.”

Saudi Arabia is also a world leader when it comes to beheading citizens it deems enemies of the kingdom. Its top officials also orchestrated the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, using spyware to keep tabs on the dissident and his friends, according to a lawsuit.

Campaigners want Google to come out and set “red lines” concerning requests from the Saudi government with which it will refuse to comply. It also wants Google to elaborate on the specifics of the independent human rights assessment the company said it conducted.

“We are saying they should not have any cloud region in Saudi Arabia, unless and until there has been a robust and thorough human rights due diligence process,” Michael Kleinman, director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley initiative, told Insider.

In 2018, after employee backlash over a cloud contract with the Department of Defense, Google published a set of principles around AI that included a commitment to not design or deploy AI that “contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”

But as Google races to catch Microsoft and Amazon in the cloud wars, deals with some governments risk backlash both inside and outside the company. Earlier this month, some Google employees called on the company to terminate contracts with the Israeli government due to the deadly attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com.

Have a tip about Google? Contact Hugh Langley securely using the encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram (+1-628-228-1836) or encrypted email (hslangley@protonmail.com

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A guide to cloud computing, the multibillion-dollar industry that powers your favorite apps

man using phone and several computer screen desktop laptop
Cloud computing transmits data to your computer via the internet, rather than letting you download it permanently.

  • Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services over the internet.
  • Cloud computing can include online data storage, writing apps, media streaming, and more.
  • Popular apps like Spotify, Netflix, and DropBox all run using cloud computing.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

You may have heard of “the cloud” countless times, but only have a general idea what it means. Cloud computing is the delivery of “on-demand” computing services – whether it’s storage, software, processing power, or other resources – over the internet. You typically pay as you go, billed only for the resources you use or the storage amount you’re subscribed to.

Though cloud computing isn’t an especially new innovation (it’s been around for decades), it’s become increasingly important to the most popular apps around today.

What to know about cloud computing

Types of cloud computing

The term “cloud computing” masks a lot of complexity. Where is the server? “In the cloud” – most users generally don’t need to know more than that.

The name obscures the fact that there are several different kinds of cloud computing architectures.

  • Public cloud: Perhaps the most common kind of cloud computing architecture, a public cloud is owned and operated by a third party and makes its resources available to customers, generally on a subscription basis. Every common commercial cloud service you know, from Dropbox to Microsoft Azure, is on a public cloud.
    Dropbox app
    Dropbox uses the cloud to store your data and back up your files.

  • Private cloud: The only difference between a public and private cloud is who owns and operates it. A private cloud is generally owned by a single business or organization and is used exclusively by that entity. It’s a private network that reserves all of its resources for the business, but is still accessed remotely rather than in data centers on site.
  • Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud combines public and private clouds in a way that data, software, and other resources can flow seamlessly between them. It allows for more flexibility, generally by letting public clouds meet shortfalls in computing requirements when the private cloud is fully saturated.

Types of cloud applications

Not only are there distinctions between the architecture of cloud services, but there are some key differences in the kind of applications that cloud computing is used for.

Cloud computing services tend to fall into one of three main categories, and you can read more about this in our guide to cloud applications.

  • Software as a service (SaaS): This is often the simplest kind of cloud computing platform to understand; with SaaS, the cloud computing operator offers software (running on the SaaS operator’s computing hardware) you can access remotely. Microsoft 365 is a common example of SaaS.
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The Microsoft 365 subscription service is a cloud-based SaaS platform.

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): In this case, a third party provides the computing hardware to run your software. For example, a software developer might rent space on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server instead of owning and maintaining a large server locally.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS): Slightly different from IaaS, PaaS includes the hardware, operating system, and middleware needed to host the software you want to run in the cloud. Google’s App Engine is an example of PaaS.

Common uses for cloud computing

While cloud computing was a novelty in years past, the proliferation of online services, web apps, broadband, massive commercial data centers, and other technologies have made cloud computing a core part of today’s technological landscape. Here are some of the most common applications for cloud computing today.

  • Data storage: It’s common today to rely on cloud storage for data storage, backup, and recovery solutions. Not only is data backed up to the cloud, but the cloud is commonly an extension of local storage as well.
  • Software-on-demand: Many businesses and individuals now rent software using SaaS rather than purchasing it outright – like Microsoft 365 and Google Docs.
  • Streaming audio and video: Services from Spotify to Netflix to HBO Max are all examples of streaming services that operate from the cloud. They’ve essentially replaced local media playback, making the cloud an integral part of most people’s daily life.
Netflix
When you watch something on Netflix, you’re accessing content from the cloud.

  • Analyzing business data: Many businesses now store their critical business data in the cloud. They then use cloud services to analyze that data for business intelligence solutions.

The advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing

While cloud computing has become a critical part of the modern computing landscape, it’s not without its disadvantages.

For example, despite the appeal of “renting” rather than “buying,” cloud computing isn’t necessarily cheaper. Long-term, it can be more cost-effective to own and operate your own computing resources, especially if you need those resources indefinitely. If the company hosting your cloud computing service of choice shuts down, you could lose all your data.

Additionally, there are security concerns. If a third party is hosting your data, it’s a potential risk vector for hackers and corporate espionage.

Companies may also want to own their own computing resources as a way to differentiate their capabilities. If you are using the same third-party services as the competition, for example, it’s difficult to offer capabilities that are better than, or even different than what they offer.

On the other hand, cloud computing is popular today because it still offers significant advantages over local computing. It’s less costly, at least in the short term, compared to owning your own servers.

It also allows for greater mobility and portability of your data – it’s already in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere. And it moves responsibility for factors like security and disaster recovery to a third party that theoretically has that expertise.

Here’s how much storage is available on your Google Drive, and how to upgrade to Google One for more storage spaceHow to manage your iCloud storage on a Mac computer and buy additional gigabytesA beginner’s guide to broadband internet, the most popular type of internet in the USA guide to proxy servers, the computer systems that relay information between users and networks, and how they can disguise users’ online presence

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The Pentagon may axe its $10 billion JEDI cloud-computing contract with Microsoft because of endless litigation from Amazon, a report says

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella next to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • The Pentagon may pull its $10 billion cloud-computing JEDI defense contract with Microsoft, the WSJ reported.
  • The contract has been swamped with litigation from Amazon since Microsoft was awarded it in 2019.
  • The contract was to store and manage sensitive military and defense data.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Officials at the Pentagon are reportedly considering ending the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract it has with Microsoft in light of endless litigation from Amazon, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In October 2019, the Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Microsoft its JEDI contract, valued at up to $10 billion, to store and manage sensitive military and defense data.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud arm of Amazon which sought the contract for itself, has challenged the decision ever since, alleging political intervention from former President Donald Trump.

“We are going to have to assess where we are in regards to the ongoing litigation and determine what the best path forward is for the department,” deputy Pentagon press secretary Jamal Brown told the Associated Press on Monday.

A Pentagon report to Congress on January 28 said another AWS win in court could delay the implementation of the JEDI program for even longer, per the Journal.

Read more: Someone pretending to be a Microsoft employee filed a fake complaint about the $10 billion JEDI cloud deal Amazon claims it deserves

“The prospect of such a lengthy litigation process might bring the future of the JEDI Cloud procurement into question,” the report said.

AWS first filed a protest against Microsoft’s victory in the battle for the contract in November 2019. The company alleged that President Donald Trump improperly influenced the Pentagon to stop the contract being awarded to Amazon because of his feud with its CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

Trump had previously accused Bezos of letting the Post publish what he considered to be unfavorable coverage of his administration.

Last month, the Pentagon tried to dismiss Amazon’s challenge of the contract award, but it failed.

JEDI contract should involve more companies

Lawmakers and government-contracting experts told the Journal that the JEDI contract should be pulled because having a single company, such as Microsoft, controlling the program was an insufficient and outdated model.

They told the Journal the DoD should include multiple companies in the contract, which would reduce the chance of legal battles from excluded companies.

Microsoft said in a statement to the Journal: “We agree with the US [government] that prolonged litigation is harmful and has delayed getting this technology to our military service members who need it.

“We stand ready to support the Defense Department to deliver on JEDI and other mission critical DoD projects.”

Amazon did not comment for the Journal’s report.

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Amazon names Adam Selipsky the incoming CEO of its $40 billion cloud business

Adam Selipsky Tableau CEO
Adam Selipsky is the incoming CEO of Amazon’s cloud business.

Amazon named Adam Selipsky, a former executive and the CEO of Tableau Software, as the incoming head of its cloud business.

The current Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy will replace Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO later this year. Selipsky left Amazon in 2016 after 11 years to become CEO of Tableau, now owned by Salesforce.

Jassy announced Selipsky’s hiring in an email to employees on Tuesday. Selipsky will return to Amazon on May 17 and begin the transition before Jassy official takes over as Amazon CEO in the third quarter of the year.

AWS generates over $40 billion in annual revenue, and the de facto leader in cloud computing, with over 30% of market share.

Selipsky had long been rumored as a possible candidate to replace Jassy as AWS CEO. “He and Andy [Jassy] are tight,” one AWS insider told Insider last month.

In naming Selipsky, Amazon passed over several internal candidates including infrastructure boss Peter DeSantis, sales and marketing chief Matt Garman, and head of utility computing services Charlie Bell.

Got a tip? Email Ashley Stewart at astewart@insider.com.

Read Andy Jassy’s email to employees announcing the change:

“I want to share that Adam Selipsky will be the next CEO of AWS.

Adam is not a new face to AWS. Back in 2005, Adam was one of the first VPs we hired in AWS, and ran AWS’s Sales, Marketing, and Support for 11 years (as well as some other areas like our AWS Platform services for a spell). Adam then became the CEO of Tableau in 2016, and ran Tableau for the last 4.5 years. Tableau experienced significant success during Adam’s time as CEO-the value of the company quadrupled in just a few years, Tableau transitioned through a fundamental business model change from perpetual licenses to subscription licensing, and the company was eventually acquired by Salesforce in 2019 in one of the largest software acquisitions in history. Following the acquisition, Adam remained the CEO of Tableau and was a member of Salesforce’s Executive Leadership Team.

Adam brings strong judgment, customer obsession, team building, demand generation, and CEO experience to an already very strong AWS leadership team. And, having been in such a senior role at AWS for 11 years, he knows our culture and business well.

With a $51B revenue run rate that’s growing 28% YoY (these were the Q4 2020 numbers we last publicly shared), it’s easy to forget that AWS is still in the very early stages of what’s possible. Less than 5% of the global IT spend is in the cloud at this point. That’s going to substantially change in the coming years. We have a lot more to invent for customers, and we have a very strong leadership team and group of builders to go make it happen. Am excited for what lies ahead.

Andy

P.S. Adam will return to AWS on May 17. We will spend the subsequent several weeks transitioning together before making the change sometime in Q3.”

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