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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.

Another thing I’ve heard from the analyst community is that Google excels at certain use cases – particularly around big data, analytics, containers and machine learning. But other cloud platforms, say from Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, are perceived to be more well rounded, so customers end up using one of those vendors as a primary provider and using Google as a secondary provider for certain use cases. Do you see that playing out in the market, and if so, what does Google need to do to become a primary provider for most of its customers?

Well there’s no question that we’re proud of the strength that we’ve got in big data, analytics and machine learning and we really think it’s highly differentiated and compelling to customers.

As we talk to customers, the vast majority are telling us they’re going to be multi-cloud. They may engage in initial use cases with multiple providers, but it’s really up to us and our competitors to earn our keep and demonstrate that we’re able to deliver value in a range of different areas. So I don’t see as much of the distinction you’re calling out around primary and secondary; I think there are multiple providers and over time the race will be around who’s really able to demonstrate value and capabilities that are unique in different areas.

For us, one of our beachheads is absolutely data and analytics to start that journey, but I have not found many situations where that excludes us from other opportunities within a company.

What advice do you have for customers who may be interested in using some of these new technologies like advanced big data analytics, containers and machine learning, but they don’t know where to start, or they don’t feel like they have time because they struggle to just “keep the lights on” in IT?

That very much describes me in my last company: You have a certain set of skills and priorities that are almost always dominated by keeping the lights on and carving out the resources to do net new things is hard. So what we advise companies is to prioritize the use cases. You can try to do things in a big bang way if you’re really committed to it, but more often than not you really need to map out a journey over time. It’s important to have a path to go to the cloud – it doesn't have to be decades, it can even be years – but that will allow you to demonstrate proof points along the way.

Another important piece is to really automate and leverage tools that allow you to remove the operational burden of operating your IT environment. A lot of customers use Google App Engine because they’re saying, ‘we don’t have to deal with all the operational pieces that make this run, we just want it to work.’ One of the customers we’ll have on stage at NEXT will be talking about how they basically moved all their apps into App Engine and that freed up a huge number of technical resources that they’re now redeploying on machine learning, data analytics and refactoring apps that are harder to move. Having a very thoughtful migration journey that takes into account the skills and needs of the app is really important.


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