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Google’s secret weapon in cloud computing: people

David Needle | March 13, 2017
While the company touted technology and service at Google Cloud Next this week, customers had other reasons for switching

Other big-time customers, including eBay, Disney, Home Depot and HSBC, endorsed GCP at the conference.

Troy Toman, director of engineering at Planet Labs, said his firm went with GCP for "the whole package" of what it offers, including technology, more flexible pricing and "Google's willingness to come to us and listen to what we needed."

Planet Labs still has a major investment in AWS, but moved to GCP specifically to help manage and process the millions of images the company generates via thousands of satellites in orbit.

Analysts say Google can continue to make inroads, but won't displace Amazon anytime soon.

"Where Google is now with its focus on the enterprise is something I couldn't imagine two years ago," said Gartner analyst David Mitchell Smith. "There is a lot of greenfield opportunities to go after companies looking to move off legacy systems.

"Google is going to be third one in at some enterprises looking to add cloud services," Smith said. "And that's okay because it promotes competition. Enterprises want an exit strategy so that if one system fails, they have somewhere else to go. It's like an insurance policy. Most companies aren't 100% any one vendor."

McGrath said AWS is likely to remain the de facto provider of cloud services for the foreseeable future -- even after last week's well-publicized outage.

"Amazon's created an aura around themselves with a large partner ecosystem that keeps them top of mind. I think Google understands that, but also is getting enterprises to understand the advantages of a multi-cloud environment. You look at the recent AWS outage and Google is saying, 'We can be your security blanket so your entire company isn't down.'"

While customers no doubt appreciate Google's white-glove support efforts, the provider won't get anywhere without a solid technology underpinning. Case in point, when Anirban Kundu, the CTO of Evernote, was asked at a press briefing to give one reason why his company switched to GCP, he insisted on giving two: "Encryption at rest and the speed of development it offers."


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