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Modern Computing Alliance aims to drive next-gen cloud apps

Google and other big tech firms want to revolutionize cloud apps, but Microsoft and Amazon are absent

Google cloud logo near a suspended catwalk

A handful of large tech players, including Google, Dell, and Intel, have created the Modern Computing Alliance, a working group that’ll develop better ways for applications to work together in the cloud and across endpoint devices. Box, Citrix, Imprivata, Okta, RingCentral, Slack, VMware, and Zoom also joined the group.

The initial rhetoric coming out of the Modern Computing Alliance is high level and has no firm roadmaps. However, a blog post by John Solomon, VP of Chrome OS, said it’ll focus on building cloud-first computing solutions to create integrated, secure experiences across any device. That means building progressive web applications (PWAs) that are faster than legacy ones.

A PWA works equally well on mobile and desktop browsers and is typically more like a native application than a traditional web app. They can be built and distributed quickly.

The Alliance's official mission statement is "To drive ‘silicon-to-cloud’ innovation for the benefit of enterprise customers—fueling a differentiated modern computing platform and providing additional choice for integrated business solutions."

The initiative will be crucial as companies move to the cloud in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Solomon hinted at such, arguing that 2020 "pushed the accelerator" on cloud adoption. 

"We kicked off these efforts because of direct customer feedback: help us accelerate our move to the cloud, provide us a better integrated choice, and prepare us for the uncertainty of the future," Solomon said.

The Alliance will focus on four areas: performance, security and identity, remote work, and health care. On the performance side, it’ll improve video and audio by integrating PWAs more closely with hardware. On the security side, it’ll create smarter permissions structures for cloud data security.

The initiative will focus on improving remote working and collaboration by building out more telemetry on users and devices, recording it locally, and sending it to the cloud so the IT department can use it for analytics.

Health care is the only vertical sector called out in Solomon's blog. "Healthcare providers need a better ROI on technology in order to improve patient outcomes and reduce IT costs," he said.

Just as notable as who's on Alliance's impressive membership list is who isn't. There's no mention of other cloud giants, including Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, and Oracle. 

Among browser vendors, Apple and Mozilla are as conspicuous in their absence as Microsoft. There's also no Facebook, which has been busy pushing its workplace collaboration solutions.

Google seems to be pushing the initiative, as the search giant hosts the Alliance website on its Chrome Enterprise domain, a separate member of the Google Workspace operation.

The Alliance has a Modern Computing IT Council to help get clients' IT departments on board. They will help shape a concrete roadmap that’ll hopefully shake out in 2021.

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