Say what you will about the cloud market, but you have to acknowledge that we are still in the very early days from a pure market-size standpoint.
That means you could say that AWS has a huge marketshare lead, and you would be right. You could say it's mostly a two-horse race between Amazon and Microsoft at the moment, with Microsoft a distant second — all correct. You could say you can barely see Google in third or fourth place with single digit market share — and you're spot on once again.
But don't let that fool you. Google is a viable and dangerous competitor to AWS, maybe in some ways more so than Microsoft and certainly more than IBM. That's because Google was born in the cloud, has always had the cloud chops, but has never quite gotten it together to build a viable enterprise cloud business.
That all changed at the end of last year when the company brought in Diane Greene to run its cloud platform. At the same time, it consolidated its fragmented cloud components into a single division under Greene's leadership.
Greene is widely respected throughout the industry, having helped found VMware, one of the most important companies to emerge in the past 20 years. It's hard to understand now in an age when virtual machines themselves are being disrupted by containers, but VMware popularized the notion of VMs, giving IT a much more efficient and flexible way to allocate its resources. In some ways, it had a similar impact in its day that cloud computing is having today.
It completely changed the way we think of enterprise computing.
The GCPNext Conference
Now Greene has the challenge of turning around Google Cloud, no easy task even for someone as clearly capable as she is. But this week Google gathered its most loyal cloud users in San Francisco at the GCPNext16 event, and Google let it be known it wasn't quite ready to cede the market to AWS or Microsoft or anyone.
Google talked about a lot of things, some of it incomprehensible like Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt's long, rambling speech, but when the company spoke of what it wants to do, it was much clearer. It involves providing a secure, smart computing environment that hides the complexity and makes life simpler for customers, just as the cloud is supposed to do.
Google emphasized its strengths as engineers, as tool makers, as people who get the needs of IT and can provide a tool set to help them do their jobs better and more easily.
While Google announced a bunch of things this week, it was less about the individual solutions then a shift in mood and loud declaration that Google Cloud is still here and the competition better watch out because it's coming for them. If they weren't paying attention, they ignore the cloud giant at their own peril.
Photo Credit: Google Datacenter, courtesy of Google