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Google Cloud Platform puts enterprise bonafides on display

Google Cloud Platform enterprise customers were on full display last week as the tech giant tried to counter the notion that it's failing in that market.

NEW YORK -- With the narrative about public cloud becoming a two-way race between Amazon and Microsoft, Google is going on the offensive to dispel the perception that its public cloud isn't enterprise-ready.

Google cloud executives and a handful of enterprise customers took to the stage of the Hammerstein Ballroom here last week to make their pitch to developers and IT pros. They cited the increased openness of Google Cloud Platform and leaned on the reputation of Google's internal tools to sell the crowd on the value of the tech giant's cloud offerings.

Skinder-Strauss Associates, a legal services firm in New Providence, N.J., is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) customer, but the presentation was good enough that the company may turn to Google because of its depth of services and its "really striking" push to be more open, said Rajesh Ramamoorthy, director of IT.

"In the past I couldn't understand where they were coming from, so I came because I wanted to get an idea," Ramamoorthy said. "I'm really impressed."

The Google Next event included tracks for developers and IT decision makers and attracted several hundred people. It was the first time Google held an event of this size to promote its cloud platform, and it was the first of five roadshows scheduled for this month, with plans to hold another 15 soon.

Public cloud -- no competition

Amazon, with expected revenue this year of more than $6 billion, is the clear market leader in public cloud, with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform as the closest competitors in the "hyper-scale" class of cloud providers. But Google has been featured less prominently in those conversations of late, with Gartner's Magic Quadrant and the Forrester Wave report listing only AWS and Azure as infrastructure as a service vendors that are leaders in public cloud in the most recent version of the respective reports.

Google still falls short of meeting the needs of ISVs and enterprise developers, primarily because of its history of so many operations veering off in different directions, said Albert Pang, president of Apps Run the World, an IT market research company in Dublin, Calif., who attended the event.

"Enterprise IT is still a fairly new thing to them, especially when it comes to building out a robust ecosystem for enterprise ISVs," Pang said.

The latest generation of ISVs relies on open source technologies and ubiquitous cloud services from AWS and Azure, so Google must do better at cloud integration, he said.

"It will take another five years before [Google Cloud Platform] can clearly define its cloud platform strategy," Pang said. "My biggest concern is that the window of opportunity may be closing in a fairly compressed timeframe given the momentum of AWS and Microsoft Azure."

Google executives interviewed during a press event here rejected the notion that the company has to play catch up with AWS, saying they're trying to build a more open platform for customers that use services from multiple cloud vendors.

"I'm not interested in creating some sort of competitive impression," said Carl Schachter, vice president of global markets. "I love the fact that Amazon is successful."

Schachter said he is aware of the criticism towards Google's platform, including a lack of enterprise customers.

My biggest concern is that the window of opportunity may be closing in a fairly compressed timeframe given the momentum of AWS and Microsoft Azure.
Albert Pangpresident of Apps Run the World

"We're not oblivious to the knocks that are out there, but consider the source of those knocks and invite those who are interested to see for themselves," Schachter said. "We're proud to say after examination, a lot of those knocks have been proven false."

The event is another way Google hoped to belie those assertions. The list of speakers included representatives from SunGard Financial Systems, JDA Software Group, Inc., and Avaya, Inc. And during the keynotes a list of more than 50 household name customers -- Coca-Cola, General Mills and Best Buy, among them -- were put on the screen to further counter the perception about its customer base.

Representatives from JDA and SunGard said the lack of widespread enterprise adoption was something they took into consideration when they shopped for cloud services. But after scrutinizing Google's platform, they came away convinced it offered the right services for their needs.

"We had conversations with customers using it from our own installed base, and that also helped," said John Sarvari, JDA group vice president of technology, who cited the platform as a service offerings as a differentiator from the competition. "We could see through those conversations and our own experience on [Google's cloud] that it's ready and it's coming."

Security in public cloud is always a big concern, but addressing those issues is built into the DNA of cloud platforms like Google's, said Neil Palmer, CTO of SunGard's Consulting Services, which is building a prototype for the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission on top of Google Cloud Bigtable capable of processing 10 billion events per hour.

"[Google is] way more secure than anything we could put together in our own data center," Palmer said. "I'm not calling Bob from networking at four in the morning when the alarms go off."

Executives talked about the cost of Google's cloud compared to the competition, a common refrain from Google, and how the company continues to take steps in that area, including its recent addition of preemptive VMs. But there was also a major focus on ease of use and how the platform includes externalized versions of many of its own tools that help turn Google into the tech behemoth it is today.

Google launched the open source Kubernetes project for containers last year and open sourced its own internal cloud analytics tool PerfKit this year, but there was also talk about how the future of Google Cloud Platform is inexorably linked to that of the larger company.

"As much as we're externalizing a lot of the services  -- Dataflow and BigQuery -- we also really believe the future architecture that [the Technical Infrastructure team] is building is cloud, and that even our existing Gmail and other services will ultimately run in Cloud Platform," said Brian Stevens, vice president of product management.

About the author:
Trevor Jones is the news writer for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at [email protected].

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