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Google Cloud exec talks courting enterprises, competing with Amazon and Microsoft

Brandon Butler | March 9, 2017
Google kicks off NEXT user conference this week in San Francisco.

tariq shaukat
Credit: Google

Tariq Shaukat doesn’t have the typical background you’d expect from someone leading the sales and professional services division at Google’s Cloud. Before becoming president of customers, Shaukat was chief commercial officer for Caesar’s Entertainment, the vast hotel and casino chain. As Google is attempting to court enterprise clients, Shaukat is bringing a customer-centric view to the business. And by the way, he’s no tech novice: He’s got undergraduate and graduate degrees from MIT and another graduate degree from Stanford.

Analysts who track the IaaS cloud computing market give Google high marks for innovation and infrastructure backbone. But in last year’s Magic Quadrant, Gartner noted that Google was in the “rudimentary stages” of interacting with enterprise clients. The hiring of VMware co-founder Diane Greene in early 2016 was seen as a turning point for Google being serious about pursuing the enterprise market. Shaukat is continuing that work. In a market dominated by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, how will Google reach out to enterprise clients? That’s Shaukat’s job.

Let’s start with a level-set question: What are the most popular products that are under the umbrella of the Google Cloud?

Within Google Cloud, we have a couple broad categories of products. One is our G Suite, which we’ve seen a lot of traction with; this was formerly Google Apps for Work. We’ve seen a lot of interest in our collaboration suite, which includes email, Docs, Drive, Sheets and Slides. We’re also seeing a lot of uptake on the Hangouts product that’s baked into that.

On the Google Cloud Platform side, which is the other big area underneath Google Cloud, there are a couple of different types of customers and so the popularity of the products varies depending on the user. There’s a large number of customers really interested in Google App Engine, which is our product that allows you to create mobile or other types of apps and leave the operation of them to us, allowing you to focus on the customer-facing innovations. Google Compute Engine is our virtual machines as a service. We’re also seeing a lot of traction in our data analytics platform, which is everything from our ingest products like Cloud Pub/Sub to BigQuery and Spanner, which we announced recently. Machine learning is another area we’re seeing a lot of customer interest.

Is there overlap between the Google Cloud Platform IaaS and the G Suite SaaS? Do you offer any bundling incentives for customers to use both?

Yes to both. A lot of this is a question of relationships and who are you comfortable doing business with. We find a lot of G Suite customers reach out to us to talk about what they can be doing in GCP for storage or big data analytics, so there’s an increasing amount of synergy between the two.


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