Google’s top executives will unveil their latest cloud initiatives Wednesday morning, making the case for big businesses to choose Google’s cloud over Microsoft Azure, public cloud leader Amazon Web Services and other competing cloud providers.
Yes, Google has been making this case for years now. But the company’s Google Cloud Next conference in Mountain View, Calif., comes at a critical juncture in the adoption of cloud technologies, as more and more corporate customers take their software development, apps and technology infrastructure beyond traditional in-house servers and data centers.
“No one questions whether Google has the technology to play in the cloud — they invented the paradigm of cloud computing,” said Seattle-based angel investor Charles Fitzgerald, a former Microsoft executive who follows the cloud industry closely. “The big questions are whether being a reliable provider for enterprises is a priority, given everything else Google is doing; and are they committed to doing all the mundane non-technical aspects that requires?”
The search giant’s cloud initiatives are led by Google senior vice president Diane Greene, co-founder and former CEO of VMware, who joined Google as an executive in late 2015 to bolster the company’s efforts to win over big businesses. Greene will be one of the featured speakers at the event on Wednesday morning, along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet.
Potential topics at the event include big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, software containers and orchestration; new hardware advances; and the buildout of Google’s global data center footprint for the public cloud. The timing could also be right for Google to detail its plans for Apigee, the API startup that it acquired last year for $625 million.
As noted by Barb Darrow at Fortune, we could also hear more about Meet, the Google video-conferencing app that quietly emerged last week. This is an increasingly competitive area among the big cloud companies, with Amazon’s new Chime service being the latest example.
The company will no doubt bring out some of its enterprise customers on stage to showcase new features. One possible candidate for stage time is Snap, the Snapchat parent, which has made a $2 billion bet on Google Cloud Platform, a deal disclosed as part of its recent IPO filing.
Last month, Google signaled one of its enterprise cloud ambitions, saying that it’s aiming to build “a cloud environment for enterprise Windows that leads the industry,” targeting a core part of the Redmond company’s business.
But attendees will also be watching for signs that Google is taking its cloud business to a new level.
“We are entering a truly critical phase in the evolution of cloud: Will a set of standard abstractions emerge that allow enterprises run applications in a multi-cloud universe, and in particular can the ‘runner up’ vendors crack Amazon’s dominance in the IaaS space?” said Craig McLuckie, who was a founder of the Kubernetes cloud orchestration technology inside Google and is now CEO of the Seattle-based Heptio cloud tech startup. He added, “New cloud services based on net new open source projects seems like a particularly fruitful path for Google and I will be watching with interest for new product offerings in that space.”
Google’s event comes a week after a major Amazon Web Services outage took down sites across the Internet — illustrating the benefits of companies having redundancy across cloud regions and even across multiple cloud providers. But that likely won’t translate into a huge benefit for Google, said David Linthicum, senior vice president at consultancy Cloud Technology Partners.
“The outage was just an event, and it made most of the AWS users understand that no cloud service is perfect. I doubt if it’s going to cause any migrations from AWS to Google or Microsoft for that matter,” he said. “These events have happened before, and they end up being non-events.”
Google is innovative and creative, and has one of the best machine-learning offerings in the cloud, Linthicum said. “That said, ML need to be surrounded by a feature rich platform, and Google has too many missing components. So, it’s one thing having a good feature, but enterprises are looking for good, and many.”
In addition, he said, Google needs to get better at the nuts-and-bolts of selling to big businesses, and further build up its enterprise salesforce.
Google Cloud Next starts at 9 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday, and it’s available to watch via livestream. Stay tuned to GeekWire for coverage.