Can Google Challenge Microsoft And Amazon For Cloud Supremacy? – Forbes

The Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

Photo credit: Pixabay.

The Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

Market research firm Gartner projects that by 2020, cloud computing will be a $383 billion market. This year, it is expected to grow by 18 percent and it is no wonder cloud players are aggressively making their moves to claim bigger slices of the burgeoning industry.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is currently the public cloud market leader with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform at second and third, respectively. According to a study by the Synergy Research Group, AWS maintained its hold of 40 percent of the market despite displaying no year-on-year growth. Combined, the next top players, Microsoft, Google, and IBM combine for 23 percent showing a 5 percent growth over the year.

Google faces a demanding task overtaking Microsoft for the second spot, more so catching up to Amazon. But it is not just the top contenders Google has to compete against. The rest of the pack is comprised of veteran IT infrastructure providers and agile startups are keen to compete. Enterprise computing mainstays IBM and Oracle are also shoring up their cloud capacities despite trailing Google.

Premium turnkey providers are also vying for niche markets. Companies such as CloudShare combine infrastructure and platforms-as-a-service to provide easy-to-manage and automated cloud services.

“There’s no doubt that the cloud has hit Main Street by now, with organizations ready for services like CloudShare to make their cloud consumption simpler, more visible, and easily controlled,” said CEO Zvi Guterman, the company’s CEO, in his year-end address.

Indeed, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for cloud computing and it is interesting to see how the web giants take on all comers.

The battle for cloud dominance

For a company known to be on the cutting edge of technology, it may come off as a surprise to some people how Google now finds itself lagging behind in cloud computing. But Google knows it has to compete. As GCP chief Diane Greene pointed out in her address in the recent Google Cloud Next event, “[Cloud is] the biggest thing going on in IT right now.”

AWS had the advantage of being the first major player in the market, launching AWS in 2006. It gained immediate traction with the development community and it expanded to offer a variety of cloud solutions. What AWS did was to disrupt the traditional data center market and proved that computing resources can be offered as-a-service.

Microsoft entered the cloud game a bit later, launching Azure in 2010. What helped Microsoft was their presence in enterprise computing. For many of their existing customers, it was simply a matter of converting them from traditional server customers to Azure users.

As for Google, their cloud service was launched in late 2011 making it the youngest among the top three. However, it was only in 2015 that Google consolidated its cloud presence as a business unit, appointing Greene, a former VMWare founder to head GCP.

For Amazon and Microsoft, their cloud divisions are emerging to be their new moneymakers. AWS is the Amazon’s most profitable division with a gross of $12.2 billion and a profit of $3 billion with a margin larger than its online retail business. Azure also displayed a similar impact on Microsoft’s earning, posting a 93 percent revenue growth year-on-year.

Google has yet to release GCP’s revenue figures but a report released at the end of Q3 2016 by Deutsche Bank estimates that GCP has a revenue run-rate of $750 million. Google as a company still makes most of its money from search and advertising.

Making a splash in enterprise

The big money in cloud computing is still in large enterprise IT. Unfortunately for Google, it has a relatively short history of serving enterprise clients Some have raised concerns regarding Google’s capability to nurture and support enterprise clients.

To address this, Google is working on its customer-facing units. Google hired hotel and casino veteran Tariq Shaukat to lead GCP’s sales and professional services. Shaukat worked for Ceasar Entertainment as chief commercial officer and for McKinsey before that. He is expected to bring in expertise to engage the enterprise market.

Google also launched its new support plans with tiers based on how quickly an enterprise needs a response. Commonly, quicker support if reserved for big spenders. However, spend does not necessarily reflect an enterprise’s need for support. They almost always have capable engineers to resolve issues. This new support plans give an opportunity even for startups to pay for quicker support and not be required to spend for unnecessary resources just to get the level of support they need.

Leveraging Google technologies

Google also outlined its plan to make its cloud services more attractive to enterprise adopters, showcasing their developments in infrastructure, machine learning, and security.

Google is set to invest $30 billion in additional infrastructure with facilities in the Middle East, Singapore, and Oceania expected to go live within the year. Just recently, Google also put $14 million in funding for Avere Systems, a company specializing on increasing data center performance. Speed and capacity are crucial for enterprises that seek to shift their infrastructure to the cloud. Transferring terabytes of data require resilient facilities.

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