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Why Google hasn't taken off in the cloud yet

Brandon Butler | Jan. 14, 2016
And what the new head of Google’s cloud is going to do about it.

Google has not failed in the cloud. Gartner Vice President and distinguished analyst Lydia Leong, who sizes up the market each year in her Magic Quadrant report, says Google has had “qualified success” in IaaS. It’s been much more successful than a whole host of others (VMware, Verizon, Hewlett Packard, to name a few). But, Google is “not coming anywhere close to Azure. And Azure is nowhere close to touching Amazon,” Leong says. In her estimation, Google is orders of magnitude away from AWS. But, she says it’s pointed in the right direction.

Synergy Research Group – which tracks cloud provider market share and revenue – estimates that in the third quarter of 2015, AWS had 39% market share in the IaaS industry, with Microsoft at 11% and Google at 6%.

Google obstacles

So, why hasn’t Google taken off in the cloud? Let’s start with one of the company’s main marketing messages, that it gives customers access to the same internal services Google uses to power its own massive applications. In other words, you too can “run like Google.”

Gartner’s Leong says there have been a couple of issues with that campaign. First, there aren’t many other companies that really do have the enormous data and infrastructure needs that Google does. Those that do – like Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo – build their own clouds. So, Google could do more to convince organizations about the value of “running like Google.”

Second, Leong says Google’s internal platform was not designed to be a set of composeable web services; it was built for Google. AWS, on the other hand, built its cloud from scratch to sell it as a service.

“Externalizing it in a way customers can consume has been difficult,” Leong says of Google’s undoubtedly impressive infrastructure.

Google has also suffered from targeting bleeding-edge customers, yet having less in terms of breadth of IaaS services to offer, she says. “I’ve never felt that Google did not understand the enterprise,” Leong says. “But they’ve never seemed to have the institutional will to go after it in depth.”

Google officials acknowledge that AWS had a first-mover advantage in selling IaaS cloud services, but Google for Work Vice President Carl Schachter says his company has caught up. While Google does not release revenue figures, Cloud Platform is the fastest growing enterprise product in the company’s history, he claims.

The Google cloud plan

How will new cloud chief Greene accelerate that even further? For one, Google is increasing its sales force to sell to enterprises, Schachter says.

Diane Greene to do list cloud

Merely bringing on Greene is powerful, too, even if she hasn’t made any moves yet. John Treadway, senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, asserts: “She has enterprise DNA.”

 

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