Google is going after a core part of Microsoft’s cloud business, aiming to expand Google Cloud Platform’s appeal to big companies that run the classic combination of Microsoft’s Windows Server and SQL Server.
Google Cloud Platform today announced pre-configured images for Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise and Windows Server Core on Google Compute Engine. The rollout includes support for high-availability, disaster-recovery and remote-management features used by big companies.
“GCP’s expanded support for SQL Server images and high availability are our latest efforts to improve Windows support on Compute Engine, and to build a cloud environment for enterprise Windows that leads the industry,” said Amruta Gulanikar, Google cloud platform product manager, in a post announcing the new features.
It’s the latest move by Google Cloud Platform to catch up to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. 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 its efforts to win over big businesses. Greene is also a board member of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
Google doesn’t break out its cloud results in its quarterly financial reports, but its cloud business “is on a terrific upswing,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai told analysts and investors on the company’s conference call last week.
“In 2016, we made huge strides building out our product offerings across all areas of Google Cloud Platform or GCP,” Pichai said. “We routinely hear from customers that we have now moved well beyond table stakes, and we have truly differentiated offerings in four key areas: data analytics and machine learning, security and privacy, tools for application development, and the ability to create connected business platforms, leveraging our recent acquisition of Apigee.”
Google acquired the API technology company Apigee for $625 million last year.
Pichai added, “Our product advancements across all of GCP, in addition to our increased focus on how we work with the enterprise customers, have enabled us to accelerate growth with new Fortune 2000 customers while also inspiring our current customers to substantially expand their use of GCP.”
Enterprise customers have emerged as a key competitive battleground among the major cloud providers, but they are traditionally Microsoft’s bread-and-butter. Many SQL Server installations still run on corporate servers, not in the cloud, which translates into a big opportunity to capture that database business as it moves to the cloud.
Microsoft gets to play both sides of the fence, because it also receives licensing fees for versions of Windows and SQL Server running in its rivals’ clouds. But the Redmond company is increasingly relying on its own cloud revenue. Microsoft’s commercial cloud run rate — a projection of the annual revenue from products including Office 365 and Azure — topped $14 billion in the company’s latest quarterly results, a new record.
Google generally trails Microsoft Azure and public cloud leader Amazon Web Services in market share.
AWS also supports running Windows Server, SQL Server and other Microsoft technologies in the cloud, so Google’s Windows enterprise ambitions are a swipe at Amazon’s cloud business, too.
Amazon reports earnings, including AWS results, on Thursday after the market closes. Amazon Web Services was responsible for making the tech giant profitable in the most recent quarter, in a sign of just how important the cloud market has become.