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Why rivals Microsoft, Google, and IBM are teaming up on a big cloud project

May 6, 2021, 5:57 PM UTC

Cloud rivals Microsoft, Google, and IBM have teamed up on a project to help companies better defend against hackers and other cybersecurity problems.

The initiative, announced Thursday, involves tracking and recording attempts by hackers to infiltrate corporate systems. Because each cloud-computing vendor records security incidents differently, companies can have a hard time getting the full picture about the latest cybersecurity attacks, explained Daniel Conroy, chief technology officer for the digital unit of aerospace giant Raytheon, which is also part of the project.

Many companies use multiple cloud services for their various IT projects, which could include operating internal and external apps. Such businesses therefore must create their own software to interpret the alerts that cloud providers send them, Conroy said.

“As much as we would like them to be all on Azure, they won’t,” said Ann Johnson, a Microsoft corporate vice president of security.

Johnson said the security project is “not completely altruistic,” considering that it’s also intended to help businesses feel safer about adopting cloud-computing services. Microsoft, along with other cloud providers, wants to make it easy for clients to move to the cloud, she said.

The project, called the Cloud Security Notification Framework Decorator, was detailed during an online conference hosted by ONUG, the Open Networking User Group consortium of enterprise technology managers. The technology that emerges from the initiative is eventually to be released for free in an open-source model.

Other than Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Raytheon, members of the project included Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, Cisco, and FedEx. Amazon, the leader in cloud computing, is conspicuously absent from the group as is Chinese cloud giant Alibaba and database titan Oracle.

However, Johnson left the door open to more companies joining in the future.

“I expect that some of those companies will want to come in as they see the success,” Johnson said.

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