Elon Musk cuts Twitter’s cloud infrastructure budget


Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why reports that Elon Musk wants to drastically cut Twitter’s infrastructure spending could damage the company as much as anything he’s done, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky on hiring priorities and tao computer science.

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Let’s get one thing straight from the start: Twitter has always been one of the most obvious examples of one of the lesser-known aspects of the tech industry, which is that the hardware and software that powers some of the networks in largest and most influential line in the world. services are often linked by a series of daily miracles and common sense. But the wrecking ball Elon Musk sent on Twitter this week could easily upset that delicate balance and end the company faster than any ad boycott.

According to Reuters, this week Musk asked Twitter engineers to cut $1 billion of the company’s annual technology infrastructure budget by Monday, before laying off thousands of employees on Friday. Given that Twitter reported $1.8 billion as its revenue-generating cost for its 2021 fiscal year — infrastructure costs are a significant portion of that number, but not the only contributor — if that number is accurate, we’re talking huge discounts.

We know a bit more about Twitter’s current infrastructure strategy.

  • Like many companies born in the mid-2000s before cloud computing really matured, Twitter initially ran on self-managed data centers.
  • Unlike many companies born during this era, Twitter was notoriously unreliable in its early days, regularly falling during sporting events and Apple keynotes and spawning the infamous “missed whale”.
  • However, Twitter engineers were able to find unique ways to address these reliability issues, leading to the birth of now widely used concepts like the service mesh.
  • Although the company still operates its own data centers, in 2018 it moved much of its data infrastructure to Google Cloud, and in 2020 it signed a multi-year deal with AWS to run real-time tweet delays on the cloud leader’s servers.

You don’t just break a multi-year IT infrastructure agreement with AWS, especially over a weekend.

Musk’s operational challenges are clear: He must cut costs to pay off the billion dollars in annual debt he imposed on the company by taking it private.

  • But as we learned from Mudge’s whistleblower report, Twitter’s infrastructure was already creaky and lacked some of the backup and recovery options that are considered table stakes for businesses running internet services this kind.
  • This means that any interruption to Rube Goldberg’s machine that let the tweets flow could simply render Twitter unusable for long periods of time.

If the report is accurate, Twitter’s almost halving of infrastructure costs overnight will immediately affect the stability and reliability of the service.

  • I mean, it’s not rocket science.

—Tom Krazit (E-mail | Twitter)

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Selipsky’s “very conservative” AWS

AWS is cutting hiring for new positions at the cloud provider, according to CEO Adam Selipsky.

“AWS has hired a lot to drive innovation and work with customers over the past few years,” Selipsky told Protocol in an interview Friday. “We have grown considerably. We have, I think, a strong set of resources. We will certainly slow down our growth…in terms of hiring.

The news follows an announcement this week from Beth Galetti, senior vice president of people and technology experience at parent company Amazon, that the retail and tech giant will temporarily halt services. additional new hires for its corporate staff due to an “unusual macroeconomic environment” but will cause it to continue hiring in “targeted locations”.

Galetti said Amazon wants to balance hiring and investing while being “thoughtful” about the economy.

“With the economy in an uncertain place and in light of the number of people we have hired over the past few years, [Amazon CEO Andy Jassy] and the S team decided this week to take a break from additional new hires to our corporate workforce,” Galetti said in a message shared with employees on Wednesday and made public on Thursday. “We had already done this in a few of our businesses in recent weeks and have added our other businesses to this approach.”

“Throughout Amazon, we’re going to be very conservative in the immediate future about the resources we ship,” Selipsky said. “AWS will also be very careful about the new resources that we will embark. We are always concerned about the long-term health of the business. And if there is anything we need to do to serve customers or develop an important capability, we will take a long-term view.

We’ll have more on Protocol’s in-depth interview with Selipsky in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

— Donna Goodison (E-mail | Twitter)

An invitation to reflect on planetary calculation

What future for computing? How will technology stacks affect the geopolitical order in the years to come? Is the earth gradually developing its own intelligent consciousness?

If these are the kinds of questions that excite and inspire you, a computer philosophy project launched by the Berggruen Institute – which will pay to bring together philosophers, designers, technologists and other techno-thinkers in Los Angeles, Mexico and Seoul to reflect them — is looking for program participants.

“The goal is really to change theoretical and practical philosophical discourse around computation that will reorient computation toward a more productive relationship with planetary futures,” said Benjamin Bratton, a professor at the University of California, San Diego and director of the program. me last month. “Computation is a necessary part of this equation,” he said.

Take climate change. Bratton said: “The very idea of ​​climate change is itself the result of a calculation on a planetary scale. Without sensors, simulations and supercomputing models, the very idea of ​​climate change, at least in its scientific granularity, cannot exist.

The Antikythera program, named after the Antikythera mechanism – the world’s first known computer – is accepting applications until November 11.

-Kate Kaye (E-mail | Twitter)

Around the company

Microsoft said the percentage of cyberattacks by nation-state groups targeting critical infrastructure reached 40% in the 12 months ending June 2022, doubling year-on-year, driven by Russia-linked attacks on Ukraine and espionage against the United States and other Ukrainian allies.

Alibaba Cloud will use its in-house developed Arm server chips to power 20% of its instances by 2025, the company said this week.

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Thanks for reading – see you Monday!


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