Last week, Google Cloud Platform’s new CEO Thomas Kurian announced to attendees of the 2019 Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco that GCP would move aggressively to compete with other public cloud computing leaders starting with Azure and AWS. GCP will do so by hiring additional sales talent and grow revenue from enterprise customers by focusing more on individual industry segments, as well as amplify its outreach to channel partners.
It is interesting that the first public statements made by the new GCP CEO were made to signal an aggressive competitive posture. Google is widely recognized as technology leader, but in public cloud computing it has taken a distant backseat to AWS and Azure in terms of enterprise usage and revenue. A good assessment of why this has historically been the case and what GCP can do to transform itself into a contender can be found in Janakiram MSV’s recent Forbes.com post entitled “5 Things Thomas Kurian Must Do To Transform Google Cloud Business.”
But Kurian is not the first with a strategy that targets the competition. Late last year, AWS began a full-fledged campaign to syphon business away from Microsoft Azure. The strategy includes Azure to AWS migration services, price incentives and AWS partner programs. Targeted enterprise audiences include Cloud Managers and Architects, SQL Server DBAs, and .NET application developers. A SQL Server upgrade tool will automate the upgrade of SQL Server 2008 to 2016. AWS will also be supporting SQL Server and .NET for its CloudWatch Application Insights service. VMware Cloud for AWS will support the migration and hybridization of SQL server workloads from on premises to AWS. But perhaps the most aggressive tactic is the introduction of an Azure to AWS Migration Tool that automates the export of VMs from Azure into AWS using VM Import/Export (VMIE).
It is often the case that public cloud computing is characterized as a costlier environment to run applications as opposed to the on premises data center. One of the ways the likes of AWS, Azure and GCP have of combating that objection is to point to all of the services available in the cloud that would be difficult if not impossible to duplicate on premises. Indeed, we could look across all three of these providers and see a new service offered every week. So, it’s not just the breadth of services but the pace of new offerings that define the value of the public cloud to the enterprise user.
I believe that we are now entering a period of increased competition among CSPs which will result in benefits to enterprise users. Chief among them will be competition based on price. In a conversation I had with a cloud architect of a large insurance and financial services firm I interviewed as part of a research project, the architect was focused on a corporate mandate to move all IT to the cloud. “We’re getting out of the data center business.” Up to the time we had the conversation, the single CSP on the receiving end was Microsoft Azure. However, his group had begun proof of concept exercises and price negotiations with AWS. They realized that single sourcing was not a good strategy from both a services delivery and cost perspective.
Strong competition among vendors has always been good for enterprise IT. We are about to see it manifested in the public cloud marketplace.