Ukraine showers hyperscalers with peace prizes

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle are recognized for help moving Ukrainian government data to the cloud

The government of Ukraine is acknowledging the assistance rendered by leading hyperscalers to move its data and workflows to cloud infrastructure, to help the government continue operations despite Russia invasion. In the past month, Ukraine government officials have recognized Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Microsoft and Oracle for their efforts to move Ukraine government data and workloads to the cloud and away from Russian threats.

The “Distinction of the World” award was created by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to identify those businesses and world leaders who have supported Ukraine since its invasion by the Russian Federation. What with a war to fight, however, Zelenskyy has delegated the distribution of the awards themselves to Ukrainian Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov.

Google was the first out of the gate to receive Ukraine’s Peace Prize — that happened last month, with less fanfare. Microsoft has also been recognized by the country’s officials for its efforts with Azure. Oracle and AWS’s efforts were acknowledged this week, against the backdrop of this week’s Ukraine Recovery Conference happening in the Swiss city of Lugano, which concluded Thursday.

On Wednesday, Minister Fedorov presented the award to AWS said AWS is working with Ukraine on post-reconstruction solutions, with the goal to digitize Ukraine’s public administration sector and judicial system.

“Amazon AWS literally saved our digital infrastructure — state registries and critical databases migrated to AWS cloud environment,” stated Minister Fedorov rather unequivocally, in a tweet.

Ukrainian media reports (via Russian news agency Interfax) that Oracle was the latest high-tech firm to be recognized by Ukraine; they got their peace price on Thursday, at the end of the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

“Oracle supported Ukraine by helping transfer a number of registers and critical databases to a safe location and backing them up. Owing to this, our state managed to continue functioning in wartime mode. The company provided Ukraine with services worth over $3 million for free,” it said.

A proud history of IT innovation

Singling out big tech companies for the award is consistent with Ukraine’s long embrace of high technology. Ukraine was already a hotbed of technical innovation under Soviet rule, when the republic’s Academy of Science churned out tens of thousands of engineers, mathematicians and physicists dedicated to the Soviet cause. Following the nation’s independence in 1991 its high-tech sector took off like a rocket, opening up IT services and outsourcing to Europe, the United States and abroad.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a boom of IT business to major Ukrainian cities like Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and Dnipro. Ukraine saw its home-grown IT industry exports growing by 20.4 percent in 2021 and passing $5 billion, with Ukrainian IT firms reporting 40-50% growth. All that stopped hard in February, when Russia once again invaded the country.

Hyperscalers aren’t the only foreign tech lending Ukraine a hand. Elon Musk said in March that his SpaceX business had sent “thousands” of Starlink terminals to Ukraine to help keep citizens and businesses online despite Russian efforts to sabotage critical Ukrainian information infrastructure. In April, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said that 5,000 Starlink terminals were delivered to Ukraine as part of a $15 million hardware and software procurement. Current estimates place the number of Starlink terminals in Ukraine north of 10,000.

Starlink, still in early testing, provides users with non-terrestrial Internet access through a network of tiny orbiting micro-satellites. Ukrainian Minister Fedorov, who maintains a very active Twitter presence, said in a tweet this past May that Starlink provided about 150,000 people in his country with access and called the company’s continued support “crucial.”