Google Cloud Platform’s Enterprise Strategy

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In previous years, Google’s Cloud was one of many products competing for attention at the company’s flagship developer conference, Google I/O. This year, the GCP team created a new event, GCP Next, to be a dedicated event for all things cloud. Though launched under the same name as a series of one- day seminars the company held last year, GCP Next 2016 was relaunched as a new flagship event recently held in San Francisco.

In parallel with the main event, the GCP team organized a series of panel discussions for analysts. Beside the keynotes, the majority of my time was spent in those sessions and various hallway-track conversations.

GCP Next News

There were several news announcements at GCP Next. If you’ve missed those, it probably makes sense to get caught up, but I won’t do that here. Rather, Brandon Butler has a nice piece along those lines over at Network World: “10 big announcements from Google’s Cloud Conference.” Check out his article if you need an overview.

GCP Strategy

A recent report by Synergy Research estimates the market for cloud infrastructure services (including IaaS, PaaS and private & hybrid cloud) hit $23 billion in 2015, with Google garnering a 4% share of this market. With enterprises usage constituting a significant and growing portion of this revenue, it’s no surprise that Google’s key message at GCP Next was Enterprise, Enterprise, Enterprise. (Unfortunately, none of the GCP executives went Ballmer on us with this.)

I summed up the GCP team’s strategy in a couple of tweets from the event.

The GCP Next keynotes supported this strategy insofar as they did a great job highlighting–literally from the bottom of the stack to the top–all of the innovation Google has brought to their cloud. Some areas specifically highlighted include GCP’s underlying data center infrastructure and connectivity, security and operations in the Google cloud, the new StackDriver multi-cloud operations console, Kubernetes, and GCP’s data services and machine learning capabilities. (See tweets below.)

One critique of the GCP team’s strategy/operating thesis is that the markets that Google has come from behind to win have been consumer markets. To address the company’s lack of enterprise DNA, the company has brought in executives such as Diane Greene, the founder and former CEO of VMware who now runs GCP, and Brian Stevens, former Red Hat CTO who runs product. Still, in the keynotes and executive panels I attended, I found their ability to craft a compelling enterprise narrative and articulate a solid go-to-market strategy to be not as far along as I expected.

I’m a fan of what Google is doing in the cloud and would love to see them close the gap with AWS. Unfortunately, as tech markets tilt towards winner-takes-all, they have their work cut out for them and a closing window within which to get it done.

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