Clouds over LatAm: The digital giants jostle for position

As Google announces it expects to triple its "customer workforce" we look at what's happening in Latin America's Cloud scene.

"The use of technology is for the development of a country. This is not right or left, it is not politics." - Iván Duque Márquez, President of Colombia, 2019

Clouds are gathering across the economies of Latin America: and for once, this is not a conventional prognostication of gloom for the region. These clouds are digital ones, and LatAm, like the rest of the world, is seeing a huge expansion in their use as businesses, government agencies and other organisations transition their computing activities more and more out of house and into the remote machinery of the world's cloud giants.

Those giants are more present in Latin America each day. President Márquez, making the remark above, was speaking at an event hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) earlier this year in Bogotá. AWS has committed to launch an Edge location in the city by the end of 2019, its first South American network access point outside Brazil. It already counts Colombia's chamber-of-commerce confederation Confecamaras and the country's National University as customers and is looking to acquire more.

"With the use of AWS services, the university has achieved tangible benefits in the areas of security deployment and application management not previously seen in traditional IT models," according to Gustavo Adolfo Pérez Pérez, the school's Director of Information Technology and Communication.

Azure, Microsoft's cloud arm, has for its part been operating seriously in Latin America since 2013, when it rolled out its region in Brazil. It benefits from the fact that its parent company has been a global player for decades: Microsoft as a whole has 4,000 employees in the region. Apart from its Azure data centre, it also has a technology centre in Brazil and another in Mexico.

Then there's Google, often seen as something of an underdog among the big three players in traditional or pure cloud services. These are generally grouped under the headings of Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service, IaaS and PaaS. (Other major firms such as Oracle, Salesforce and IBM are also very active in these areas, but analysts typically class them more as Software-as-a-Service operations with their own UX at the user end.) In IaaS/PaaS cloud revenues for 2018, AWS made more than $25bn; Azure $11bn; and Google Cloud Platform $8bn. These figures are somewhat arbitrary as all three companies do huge amounts of other online business, much of which could easily be classified as ‘cloud', but nonetheless the general AWS-Azure-Google ranking is probably about right.

Google arrives … but it's always been here

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