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October 20, 2016updated 25 Oct 2016 12:56pm

Cloud wars: Google finds its voice in fight against AWS for enterprise cloud market

GCP has failed to gain traction in the market, can Google solve this?

By James Nunns

Google’s big problem when it comes to cloud computing has never been its technological know-how, it has instead always been the ability to appeal to large enterprises.

According to some of the leading tech research and analyst firms, Google is the third largest public cloud, but it trails Microsoft’s Azure public cloud by a large amount, and Amazon Web Services by an even greater amount.

Typically this wouldn’t be a surprise, ‘tech company isn’t the biggest in the market’ doesn’t make for a headline, but for Google, the subsidiary of Alphabet, this is a surprise.

That’s because Google has been at the forefront of developing a lot of the technologies that are now taking the tech industry by storm – Hadoop and containers, to name just two technologies, both came from internal whitepapers that the company published.

On the security front the company has produced 160 academic research papers and has discovered and/or fixed over 700 common vulnerabilities and exposures, including Heartbleed.

Of course quantity doesn’t always equal quality, but the point is that Google has always set about being the technology leader and this just hasn’t translated into enterprise cloud success.

With the appointment of Diane Greene in November 2015, Google set about changing its inability to convert technical intelligence to enterprise contracts.

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Under Green the company has set about acquiring numerous companies that expand its enterprise credentials, such as DeepMind and Apigee. The company has also rebranded its portfolio and been far more vocal about signing up customers such as Ocado, Walt Disney, Spotify, and Home Depot.

Citi made an appearance to say how it is using GCP.

Citi made an appearance to say how it is using GCP.

The customers highlight the mix of start-ups and big name enterprises that Google needs in order to surpass AWS.

The messaging has become a lot more aggressive and forward when it comes to talking about competitors, or at least when talking about AWS.

At GCP NEXT World Tour, attended by CBR, the company displayed its new found enterprise drive, first by assuring the keynote audience that it definitely means business. Brian Stevens, VP, Products, GCP, said: “Cloud is big enough and important enough in Google now that it influences where we put our data centres.”

According to Stevens the company is aiming to set up a new cloud region every month. With ambitious goals like this it becomes clear that Google certainly means business.

While playing up its own credentials, Google frequently took shots at Amazon Web Services, not once mentioning Microsoft Azure, but frequently talking about how it has clearer, simpler pricing than the market leader, as well as more consistent and predictable performance.

Although Stevens admitted that many of the first adopters of cloud went to AWS he said: “many still come to us for some of the features they don’t have.” Google also spent a large amount of time comparing Google Big Query to Amazon Redshift.

The company backed up pricing claims with customer quotes, with one saying: “GCP’s pricing model is better in almost every respect than AWS’s.”

Google also launched a new cloud storage archive service that it is calling Coldline. The service will match AWS on price at $0.007 per gigabyte of storage and will offer data retrieval within milliseconds.

This is the fourth storage offering, adding to; Nearline, Regional, and Multi-Regional. Stevens said: “Storage in Google Cloud Platform is doubling every six month. It’s an easy on-ramp to the cloud and many find that, once it’s there, they start performing analytics on the data.”

Google introduced Coldline archival storage.

Google introduced Coldline archival storage.

While playing up its capabilities and revealing new services to take on AWS, Google looked at its analytics and machine learning capabilities, often bordering on hyperbole by describing some things as “magic”. The reality is that the technology is often impressive, but magic it is not.

However, the company certainly believes that the work it is doing to accelerate things like deep learning will be the technologies that businesses use in the future.

Miles Ward, global head of solutions architecture, GCP, said: “If it happens like this for us, it will happen for you.” Referring to the advances it has made with things like its Vision API, and learning APIs.

Ward, when bringing the keynote to an end, said: “We are invested in your success as a partner,” which is something that many tech companies say, but it is intended to make Google more personable, more approachable, and easier for an enterprise to work with.

Taking shots at the market leader is often easy to do and has been done frequently. Competition is fun and often these comments can be entertaining, but Google needs to be careful not to appear as operating a ‘he who shouts loudest wins’ campaign.

The company has a lot of strengths but its messaging for enterprise cloud hasn’t gained the kind of traction that it may have expected, but the right acquisitions and the assurance that it can be the right cloud choice for enterprises might just give it the boost to mount a challenge.

Google isn’t the only company trying to find its image.

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