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Google Cloud Next 19: Disruption to the public cloud market, or AWS as usual?

Thu 18 Apr 2019

Last week Google hosted its annual Cloud Next conference in San Francisco. Google used the opportunity to make an aggressive push against the reign of AWS and other cloud giants by outlining products and services that it hopes will catch the eye of enterprises and persuade them to make more use of its (relatively underused) public cloud.

But in fact, Google appears content, for now, for firms to stay on its rivals’ clouds. Why? Primarily because Google is offering a new tool to manage workloads, even if they reside on Azure or AWS. If it works as Google suggests, the company might just establish itself as the hybrid cloud company that can facilitate enterprise digital transformation, by offering insights and management over an enterprise’s hybrid portfolio.

Google also announced several open source integrations into the Google Cloud console and, by doing so, is clearly trying to differentiate itself from AWS, who has faced resistance in the open source community for its treatment of open source projects. 

But has anything, and will anything, change in the public cloud market? We asked well-respected cloud authorities Kevin Jackson and Ian Moyse for their thoughts on the announcements.

Ian Moyse, Cloud Industry Thought Leader & Cloud Sales Director at Natterbox:

“Google is clearly on the back foot of the big three chasing to be the underlying cloud platform of choice. Microsoft has the loyalty of much of its historic MS base and channel to leverage, and Amazon the might of its born in the cloud powerhouse, scale and speed, is now increasingly courting channels to market.

Focusing on areas that its similarly goliath competitors are not is a smart move. Open source advocates will likely not favour either Microsoft or AWS, the question being will Google be able to gain better traction than the wavering Openstack initiative that has been here before? Are the open source advocates holding enough of the purse strings to make an impact for Google? In the vertical cloud platform space, they may find themselves competing with a fourth player, Oracle who is loud and more than proud in its vocal view of its place in the cloud platform world and who has a successful history of courting the vertical market application players to bet on its platforms.

It is curious to see Google release a cloud workload management tool that encompasses both AWS and Azure as well as its own Google Compute, maybe like Rackspace and many others who have taken the can’t beat them, support them approach (a growing number of hosting firms have become resellers for Azure and AWS, having found they could not compete with the Goliaths’ commercial models and brand acceptance by clients). However, they will face competition here from a growing number of independent tools and likely face scepticism from any Azure or AWS houses not in bed with Google already!

It is highly unlikely Google will fail or back out of this space as it has done in many others, its recent closure of their failed social media platform as a case in point, but they certainly need to focus and find their niche as taking on AWS and Google head-on may feel like the battle they faced in the social world against the likes of Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. In my nearly 14 years in the cloud space engaging with end-user clients, cloud vendors and others in the cloud ecosystem I have rarely come across discussions of usage around Google Compute; Google Apps for sure and this is a contender against the mighty Office365, but in the platform space I continue to hear increasing conversations of cloud vendors re-platforming themselves to AWS or Azure and customers doing the same for their workloads.  Google whilst holding a healthy business in this space, may have to concede on remaining a top player, but never THE top player.”

Kevin Jackson, CEO and founder of GovCloud Network

“Google was born-in-the-cloud as an incredible search engine. Their ability to index, search and immediately present relevant data to the individual user placed them miles ahead of all competitors. Over the years, they have improved and expanded this capability into more and more consumer services. Now they are so entwined into everyday life, “Google” is now a verb, as in, “I’ll google that!” This made Google an extremely successful business-to-consumer (B2C) company. Now, as the competition in that market gets competitive, Google has now significantly enhanced its once sparse business-to-business (B2B) offering set.

Google-Next seemed to be the unveiling of the industry’s first global Hybrid IT Service Provider. In abandoning the proprietary cloud technology strategies followed by others, Google appears to be focused on delivering a hybrid IT management platform to the B2B community. By embracing and contributing to the open-source ecosystem in a manner that doesn’t kill pioneering spirits, the newly released Anthos tool seems to be vastly different than previous “open-source partnerships.

Using Anthos, Google’s enterprise customers should be able to consume a single managed service capable of managing and deploying workloads across any cloud computing environment (i.e., AWS, Azure, IBM). By abstracting the technical complexities of these environments and APIs, this service also addresses the complexities of cloud migration through a VM auto-migrate capability based on the Google Kubernetes Engine. Open source integrations into the Google Cloud console also makes the offering very attractive to companies increasingly worried about being permanently locked into a service provider’s platform. The approach also seems to be capable of delivering very advanced industry vertical solutions.

While I do admit to being disappointed by industry-changing announcements by many different vendors, I look forward to learning more about Google’s new B2B focused line-up. If played correctly, this could definitely threaten AWS’s current dominant B2B position.”


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