Elon Musk cuts Twitter’s cloud infrastructure budget

Hello, and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why reports that Elon Musk wants to dramatically reduce Twitter’s infrastructure spending could damage the company as much as anything he’s done, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky on hiring priorities, and the Tao of computing.

Execution error

Let’s get one thing out of the way before: Twitter has always been one of the most obvious examples of one of the lesser-known aspects of the tech industry, that the hardware and software that drives some of the most important and influential online in the world. The services are often held together by a series of daily miracles and sheer gumption. But the wrecking ball that Elon Musk sent via Twitter this week could easily upset that delicate balance and bring the company to an end faster than any ad boycott could.

According to Reuters, Musk called on Twitter engineers this week to cut $1 billion from the company’s annual tech infrastructure budget until Monday, before laying off thousands of employees Friday. Given that Twitter reported $1.8 billion as its cost to generate revenue for its fiscal 2021 year – infrastructure costs are a strong part of that figure, but not the only contributor – if this number is correct, we are talking about huge cuts.

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

  • Like many companies that were born in the mid-2000s, before cloud computing really matured, Twitter initially ran on self-managed data centers.
  • Unlike many companies born around that time, Twitter was notoriously unreliable in those early days, routinely going down during sporting events and Apple keynotes, giving birth to the infamous “fail whale.”
  • However, Twitter engineers were able to come up with unique ways to solve these reliability problems, leading to the birth of now widely used concepts such as the service mesh.
  • While the company still operates its own data centers, it moved in 2018 a large part of its data infrastructure on Google Cloud, and in 2020 it signed a multiyear deal with AWS to run the actual real-time tweet timelines on the cloud leader’s servers.
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It doesn’t just break a multi-year computing infrastructure deal with AWS, especially over a weekend.

Musk’s operational challenges are clear: He needs to cut costs to service the $1 billion in annual debt payments he saddled the company with by taking it private.

  • But as we learned from Mudge’s whistleblower report, Twitter’s infrastructure was already crummy and lacked some of the backup and recovery options considered tableau for businesses operating Internet services of its kind.
  • That means any disruption of the Rube Goldberg machine let the tweets flow could easily render Twitter unusable for a long time.

If the report is accurate, cutting Twitter’s infrastructure costs almost in half overnight will impact the the stability and reliability of the service.

  • I mean, it’s not rocket science.

– Tom Krazit (Email | twitter)

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Selipsky’s “very conservative” AWS

AWS is ratcheting down its hiring for new positions at the cloud computing provider, according to CEO Adam Selipsky.

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

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The news follows word this week from Beth Galetti, senior vice president of people experience and technology at parent company Amazon, that the retail and tech giant is temporarily halting new incremental hires for its corporate employees due to “an unusual macroeconomic environment,” but will continue to hire in “targeted locations”.

Galetti said Amazon wants to balance its hiring and investments with “thinking” about the economy.

“With the economy in an uncertain place and in light of how many people we’ve hired over the last few years, [Amazon CEO Andy Jassy] and the S-Team decided this week to pause for new incremental hires in our corporate work,” Galetti said in a message shared with employees on Wednesday and made public on Thursday. “We already had this in some of our stores and have done in recent weeks and have added our other businesses to this approach.”

“About Amazon, we’re going to be very conservative just in the immediate future about the resources we bring on board,” Selipsky said. “AWS will also be very conservative about new resources we bring on board. We’re always concerned with the long-term health of the business. And if there’s something we need to do to serve customers or build an important capability, we’ll take a long-term view.

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

– Donna Goodison (Email | twitter)

An invitation to contemplate planetary calculus

What is the future of computing? How will tech stacks affect the geopolitical order in the coming years? Is the earth slowly 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 philosophers, designers, technologists and other techno thinkers in Los Angeles, Mexico City and Seoul to think about them – is looking Program participants.

“The goal is really to shift a theoretical and practical, philosophical discourse around calculus that reorients calculus toward a more productive relationship to planetary futures,” said Benjamin Bratton, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. , and director of the program. me last month. “Calculation is a necessary part of that equation,” he said.

Take climate change. Bratton said: “The whole idea of ​​climate change is itself a result of planetary-scale computing. Without the sensors and the simulations and the super-computer models, the whole idea of ​​climate change, at least in its scientific granularity, do not exist.

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

– Kate Kaye (Email | twitter)

Around the company

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

Alibaba Cloud will use its internally developed Arm server chips to achieve 20% of its instances until 2025, the company said this week.

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Thanks for reading – see you Monday!



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