Hello Interconnected Readers:
I have not written a bilingual news source summary and commentary in a while -- my apologies. Interconnected, as a newsletter and product, will be going through some changes, which we will announce later this week. I’m also going through some professional changes. (If you are a subscriber, you already know what those changes are! More reasons to subscribe perhaps?)
As for today, the news stories I choose to highlight and share thoughts on are around the latest development in the cloud industry and open source, which are two of the most popular topics of Interconnected (see our Cloud Industry and Open Source tags).
[If you’d like to skip ahead to the six news stories and commentaries from last week – three from English language sources, three from Chinese language sources -- here are this issue’s items:
- “Time’s TikToking away for Alibaba Cloud’s relationship with ByteDance” (English Source: Verdict)
- “Pentagon Weighs Ending JEDI Cloud Project Amid Amazon Court Fight” (English Source: Wall Street Journal)
- “Shoppers already love Chinese brands — they just don't know it yet” (English Source: Protocol)
- “HarmonyOS 2.0 released, Huawei’s homemade OS lands in some smartphones on the phone, here’s the good and bad” (Chinese Source: GitHub Daily)
- “Hillhouse Capital’s Zhang Lei: Invested nearly 50 billion in carbon neutrality startups; Aim to be entrepreneurs' Sancho Panza” (Chinese Source: China-Venture)
- “Tencent Cloud reveals its own cloud-native intelligent data lake landscape; Competition in data lake products heats up again” (Chinese Source: CSDN)]
Before you read on, please check out last week's deep dive post: "Morris Chang, Global Semiconductor Competition, Make “Making Stuff” Cool"
“Time’s TikToking away for Alibaba Cloud’s relationship with ByteDance” (English Source: Verdict)
My Thoughts: The two big news items that came out of Alibaba’s most recent earnings report are: 1. The company suffered its first ever quarterly loss as a public company, primarily due to the antitrust penalty; 2. Its cloud division lost a significant customer during Q1 2021. All rumors point to this customer being ByteDance’s TikTok. In the long run, I think AliCloud will do just fine, especially considering the less newsy but equally important revelation that the division reached adjusted-EBITA profitability in Q4 2020. Reaching the economies of scale necessary to make a profit in the cloud is no easy feat; the only other hypercloud that’s profitable is AWS. Most people focus on Alibaba’s e-commerce businesses, but in my mind, AliCloud will be its main profitability driver in the next 10 years.
“Pentagon Weighs Ending JEDI Cloud Project Amid Amazon Court Fight” (English Source: Wall Street Journal)
My Thoughts: Speaking of cloud, the largest cloud contract ever may be no more. I’m talking about the US Department of Defense’s JEDI contract, worth $10 billion over the next 10 years. I’ve written about the ongoing legal and political conflict between AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, and the US government around JEDI last year in “AWS vs Azure: Return of the JEDI?”, when Trump was still president. With Biden now president, the new leadership may start from scratch. The design of the contract being winner-take-all has always been problematic, especially as the multi-cloud architecture becomes more widely adopted and popular among large enterprises. The US military is as large of an enterprise as it gets.
“Shoppers already love Chinese brands — they just don't know it yet” (English Source: Protocol)
My Thoughts: Even though China’s manufacturing quality and sophistication have improved by leaps and bounds, “Made in China” the label still conveys cheap, not premium quality. Thus, Chinese brands that are selling directly to consumers globally are constantly looking for ways to get around this hurdle, especially as this reputation no longer captures much of reality. This article reveals an interesting approach -- certain cities in China apparently convey more brand value than the country itself. “Made in China” may not sell well, but “Made in Shenzhen” or “Made in Hangzhou” may.
“HarmonyOS 2.0 released, Huawei’s homemade OS lands in some smartphones on the phone, here’s the good and bad” (Chinese Source: GitHub Daily)
My thoughts: Huawei’s homegrown mobile operating system, HarmonyOS, is slowly but surely making its way into people’s hands, currently in the public beta phase. For readers who’ve never heard of this OS, Huawei began developing it five years ago, but the R&D accelerated in 2019 when Google’s compliance with US sanctions cut off Huawei's access to the Android ecosystem. So what are users saying about their experience using HarmonyOS so far? Apparently, it has a slick transition between Huawei’s phone and tablet display that instantly turns the phone into a remote control...but it might freeze when you play “Honors of King”.
“Hillhouse Capital’s Zhang Lei: Invested nearly 50 billion in carbon neutrality startups; Aim to be entrepreneurs' Sancho Panza” (Chinese Source: China-Venture)
My thoughts: Zhang Lei is one of the most influential investors in China that few in the West has heard of. Rui Ma of Tech Buzz China has done some great tweet threads on Zhang Lei’s investment philosophy, based on his book (in Chinese) called “Value”. This article which contains an interview with Zhang also contains some interesting revelations -- Hillhouse has been pouring money into climate change startups and Zhang likes to use Don Quixote’s loyal squire as a metaphor for his firm.
“Tencent Cloud reveals its own cloud-native intelligent data lake landscape; Competition in data lake products heats up again” (Chinese Source: CSDN)
My thoughts: In and of itself, Tencent Cloud announcing its own native data lake services is not that interesting. Owning “data density” is the key to the success of any cloud platform. The two services announced -- Data Lake Formation and Data Lake Compute -- is an exact representation of that strategy, where the former helps customers load data into Tencent’s cloud while the latter helps the customers manage, maintain, and analyze that data to derive value. The more interesting element is how much Tencent Cloud is leveraging existing open source projects to build its data lake services, namely Apache Iceberg -- an example of open source technology accelerating large scale product development. Embracing open source will be a big strategic direction for Tencent Cloud going forward.
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有一段时间没有写中英文双语新闻的摘要和评论了 -- 很抱歉。《互联》这个博客加产品即将有些改动，会在本周晚些时候“官宣”细节。我也在工作上有了些变化。（如果您是订阅者，那已经知道这些变动是什么了！也许是个新的理由订阅此博客？）
- “阿里云与字节跳动的关系随着时间疏远”（英文来源: Verdict）
- “五角大楼因亚马逊的法庭斗争考虑终止JEDI云项目”（英文来源: 华尔街日报）
- “购物者已经爱上了中国品牌 -- 只是他们还不知道而已”（英文来源: Protocol)
- “鸿蒙 2.0 开始推送，华为 OS 首次登陆手机，亮点槽点都在这里” (中文来源: GitHub Daily）
- “高瓴张磊：出手近500亿投向碳中和，要做创业者的桑丘潘沙” (中文来源: 投中网）
- “腾讯云首次披露云原生智能数据湖全景图，数据湖之争再起波澜” (中文来源: CSDN）】
我的想法: 阿里巴巴最近的财报中的两大新闻是：1. 公司上市后首次出现季度亏损，主要是由于反垄断的处罚；2. 其云计算部门在2021年第一季度失去一个重要客户。所有传言都指向这个客户是字节跳动的TikTok。从长远来看，我认为阿里云还是会很成功，尤其考虑到该部门在2020年第四季度达到经调整后EBITA转正。在云计算领域达到盈利所需的规模经济并非易事；唯一实现盈利的超大云平台就是AWS。大多数人关注阿里的各种电商业务，但在我看来，阿里云将是其未来10年最主要的盈利“骨干”。
我的想法: 说到云，有史以来最大的云合同可能即将消失。我说的是美国国防部的JEDI项目，10年价值100亿美元。我去年在《AWS vs Azure：JEDI重来？》一文中写到过AWS、微软、甲骨文和美国政府之间围绕JEDI的各种法律和政治冲突，当时特朗普是总统。现在拜登上台后，新的领导层可能会从头开始。这个项目“赢家通吃”这一点一直是个问题，尤其是当多云（multi-cloud）架构在大型企业中得到广泛的采用和普及。要知道没有什么企业是比美军更大的了。
“购物者已经爱上了中国品牌 -- 只是他们还不知道而已”（英文来源: Protocol)
我的想法：尽管中国的制造质量和先进程度已有了飞跃性的提高，"中国制造" 这个标签的效应仍然是便宜，廉价，质量低。因此，想出海的中国品牌一直在不断寻找各种方法来绕过这一障碍，尤其是在这种偏见已经不怎么反映现实的时候。这篇文章写到了一种挺有意思的方法 -- 中国的某些城市的声誉显然比整个国家的品牌价值要高。"中国制造" 可能卖得不好，但 "深圳制造" 或 "杭州制造" 可能会卖得很好。
“鸿蒙 2.0 开始推送，华为 OS 首次登陆手机，亮点槽点都在这里” (中文来源: GitHubDaily）
“高瓴张磊：出手近500亿投向碳中和，要做创业者的桑丘潘沙” (中文来源: 投中网）
我的想法: 张磊是中国最有影响力的投资人之一，但很少西方人听说过他。Tech Buzz China的马睿根据张磊的《价值》一书，写了一些很棒的关于他的投资理念的推文。这篇文章包含了对张磊的一套采访，也有些有趣的信息 -- 高瓴向气候变化初创公司投入了重金，而张磊喜欢用唐吉诃德的忠诚侍从来比喻他的投资公司。
“腾讯云首次披露云原生智能数据湖全景图，数据湖之争再起波澜” (中文来源: CSDN）
我的想法: 就其本身而言，腾讯云宣布自己的云原生数据湖服务并没什么。拥有 "数据密度" 是任何云平台成功的要素。宣布的两项服务 -- Data Lake Formation 和 Data Lake Compute -- 就是这一战略套路的体现，前者帮助客户将数据载到腾讯云中，而后者帮助客户管理、维护和分析这些数据以获得价值。更值得一提的是，腾讯云利用了现有的开源项目来搭建这套数据湖服务，即Apache Iceberg。这也是开源技术加速大规模产品开发的一个好例子。拥抱开源将是腾讯云未来的一个重要战略方向。