Google to outline what’s next for its cloud biz: Page 2 of 2
By Edwin Yapp March 9, 2017
What’s in store for Google
Google on its part started getting into the hyper-scale cloud game a little slower than the rest of the field. After making some headway last year, beginning with the hiring of former respected Silicon Valley executive Diane Greene (pic above), the search giant outlined at its inaugural conference last year why Google is ready for prime time in the cloud and why large enterprises can bank on it as their cloud provider.
Beginning by saying that Google is “dead serious” about the cloud business, Greene went on to tout Google’s strengths: “better value, reduced risks, and continued access to innovation.”
To bolster her assertions, Google had announced a series of customer wins in 2015. It followed up in 2016 with higher-profile customers including Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Spotify Ltd, Home Depot Inc and even Apple Inc, widely regarded as one of Google’s stiffest competitors.
Following the conference last year, CNBC reported in last August that it was apparently on the cusp of snaring a large financial-based customer in Paypal, but there has been no word about this development since. That same month, online note taking app Evernote Corp did sign on with Google Cloud though.
Arguably its largest snare to date is the recently announced US$2 billion deal (over five years) with social media giant Snapchat's parent Snap Inc.
Snapping up (pun intended) Snap is somewhat of a big deal, especially given that the social media giant just debuted successfully on the New York Stock Exchange.
Under Greene’s tutelage, Google Cloud has certainly made strides in convincing large companies that it certainly has the chops to be a reliable, scaled-out enterprise cloud provider.
Critics however argue that while snaring some of these big companies is a great PR coup for Google’s growth, they aren’t necessarily marquee enterprises, not the likes of how AWS has industry giant General Electric and financial player Capital One in its fold.
To be fair, Google certainly has the pedigree to build cloud products and services that can serve the enterprises but the fact remains that it takes time to not only build credibility but also to convince customers to move their workloads onto a public cloud infrastructure.
Industry watchers say one sector Google has some advantage in, or at the very least parity with AWS and Microsoft is artificial intelligence, deep machine learning and deep analytics. Cloud IaaS may be established science but these value added services on top of cloud are still relatively new, with AWS and Microsoft only getting into the game recently.
In this respect, Google has shown resolve having hired a leading AI scientist, Fei-Fei Li, the director of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab to drive its initiative. Li will be on hand to address the crowd at Next 2017.
New vs old
As I head out to the conference today (March 8), there are a few areas that I will personally be watching closely. The first will be what Google’s cloud product chief Greg DeMichillie told me last year.
During a pre-press briefing before GCP Next 2016, he had said that Google knows that its competitors have had the time-to-market advantage and a lot more name recognition.
“A lot of [enterprise] customers who want to use [our cloud] just want to know that we got all the right boxes ticked,” he said. “This year, we will spend our time showing the enterprises we are ready for them.”
DeMichillie told Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of Next 2016 that Google’s ongoing cloud awareness programmes not only comprise general marketing and advertising, but also being active in events like GCP Next 2016, which will have Asian and European chapters. The company will also participate in other independent industry events, he added.
My question then would be how have these efforts gone? Is it better off speaking to C-suite level executives about its cloud proposition?
Secondly, to follow up on what DeMichillie coyly argued that “it’s not about public cloud players competing with one another, but more about public cloud versus on-premises players.”
“People want to position it as us [Google] versus them [our competitors]. The truth is, all of us in the public cloud space only have a miniscule fraction of the total global IT spending potential.
“[So] it’s not about us versus another cloud, but about the public cloud as a whole, taking market share from the existing on-premises business,” he argued.
Again, how is this panning out? Are they taking more market share from old-school enterprise IT giants the likes of Oracle Corp and SAP SE, both of whom have also ramped up its cloud offerings?
These are but some of the questions I hope will be answered, and I certainly hope Google’s second stab at this year’s Next 17 will reveal this and much more of its quest shore up its cloud business.
Edwin Yapp reports from Google Next 2017 in San Francisco, at the invitation of Google Inc. All editorials are independent. He is contributing editor to Digital News Asia and Asean analyst at Tech Research Asia, an advisory firm that translates technology into business outcomes for executives in Asia Pacific.