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Google turned to Microsoft this week to open its cloud platform to a much wider audience.
The company has expanded its Windows support on Google Cloud Platform through Microsoft License Mobility, the addition of Windows Server 2008 R2 to Google Compute Engine and free availability of the Chrome remote desktop app for Windows users in the platform. The move puts the platform on the same footing as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace and other public cloud vendors already included in the licensing program.
"It's a sign that they're getting serious about having an actual user base," said Carl Brooks, an analyst with 451 Research, LLC, based in New York. "There's only so far that dealing with Linux nerds can get you for actual adoption of your platform," Brooks said.
Customers can now move existing on-premises SQL Server, SharePoint and Exchange Server licenses to Google with no licensing fees, while Windows Server 2008 capabilities are in beta. Google is also working on support for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2.
While the additional support isn't a surprise, it's crucial for Google going forward, said James Staten, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass. "It helps like having water in your pool helps," Staten said.
Because Windows can be used in other major cloud platforms, Google's added support won't do much to attract customers, Staten said. It does, however, remove an objection that would force potential customers to go elsewhere, he added.
These types of compatibilities are important for providers competing for enterprise customers in a multi-cloud environment, Google said, adding that while the same capabilities exist through AWS and Microsoft, customers may be better served to use Windows on Google Cloud Platform because of the speed and price.
IndependenceIT Corp., a provider of desktop as a service software, based in Allentown, Penn., is testing its software suite with Windows in the Google platform. IndependenceIT also has partnerships with Azure and other public cloud vendors, but CEO Seth Bostock sees potential benefits through Google's price point on steady state instances.
Google Compute Engine customers receive sustained-use discounts on machine-type pricing when an application is used for at least 25% of a given month. These savings are incremental based on usage and max out at a 30% net discount if an application is used the entire month.
Using Google could also allow the company to expand its geographic footprint and connect with the growing number of customers using Google Apps for Work as the company looks to bridge the Google and Microsoft ecosystems, Bostock said.
"It's going to help a tremendous amount by having more options and flexibility in terms of the places and partners we can integrate with and leverage our software," Bostock said.
Cuts both ways
On the surface it may seem unwise to let Azure rivals use Windows from Microsoft's perspective, but these types of moves help push Microsoft's recent narrative, Staten said.
"It's more of a validation that Microsoft is open," Staten said. "That's a message they've been trying to get out there for years."
And while the news is good for Microsoft, it also shows that all the major cloud vendors rely on a standard set of server technologies and the true competition is at the service delivery level, Brooks said.
"Everybody in this business is in bed together," Brooks said. "Amazon is probably the largest reseller of Windows licenses and Google could quickly give them a run for their money."
Trevor Jones is the news writer for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at email@example.com.