Yesterday, a colleague and I piled into a bus at Google I/O and were ferried with others to the Googleplex, where Diane Greene and five members of her team awaited to tell us about Google's goals for enterprise cloud, its progress, Google Apps, the TensorFlow hardware supporting its cloud effort, and in particular TPU ASIC (designed to support voice and speech recognition, text recognition and image matching) -- and anything else that we could think of.
A few things became apparent:
- Google is finally dead serious about delivering a full suite of enterprise cloud solutions.
- It has a set of smart execs in place who understand the technology and the needs of enterprise customers.
- Because it supports the cloud effort and will likely be sold to some enterprises as part of cloud solutions, Google Apps for Work is also being given direct emphasis with productivity and functionality enhancement and refinement.
The jury is still out on whether Google can figure out how to support the enterprise in two to three hours instead of two to three weeks. That's something Google is just going to have to invest in. What it has doesn't scale.
Google should also revisit issues like software licensing (Microsoft is offering valuable discounts on things like data center servers), concurrent usage limits, storage and so forth. Because many of the Google enterprise apps were built as consumer products first, they're light on management tools and administrative features, a Microsoft strength.
Finally, Google needs to have a better handle on customer pain points. For example, it rolled out the Postini anti-spam server tool under the Google label and unilaterally required all users to have a Google account to sign in to Postini. That wreaked havoc at companies where either they didn't have Gmail or not all employees had Gmail. Telling employees to use their personal Gmail accounts is not a viable solution for most CIOs.
So Google has a long upward climb ahead. It's not the No. 1 or No. 2 cloud company. It needs to develop an enterprise support system, probably with clean-sheet thinking. But it finally seems to have religion on developing and selling products to the enterprise. A sleeping giant awakens -- and hopefully that will mean more choice for IT.
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