Google is in a war for the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) space, and at the moment it's pulling a distant third. Pitted against market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the high enterprise adoption of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is making up the market share ground by using Big Data and machine learning to optimize data center performance.
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Diane Greene, Google's SVP and chief of all things cloud and enterprise computing, believes we've only just begun to see what the cloud can do.
"IT is over a trillion-dollar industry, and if all that is moving to the cloud that means there's huge opportunity, and we're still early on," said Greene. "Amazon started talking about their [AWS] revenues a few years ago and people went whoa, this is a big business."
Greene is one of the founders of VMware, and served as CEO of the cloud, data center, and virtualized software company from 1998-2008. During the Wired Business Conference today, Greene was asked how big a factor machine learning will be to the future of average businesses. In response, she pointed to how Google offers these kinds of tools to businesses as open-source with projects like TensorFlow and through features like image recognition, speech recognition and translation, and other machine-learning tools as-a-service within GCP.
Google SVP and Former VMware CEO Diane Greene
"Technologies like machine learning are changing every industry, and the enterprise is getting more aggressive at adapting to new ways of doing things," said Greene. "We use it in our data centers to reduce power consumption. We use data on weather, load, cooling, etc. and adjust the pumps to save significant percentages of power. Machine learning is making that kind of power savings possible, and I think it will be used in every industry to simply do things better."
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The Business Appeal of Public Clouds
In a cloud space where even a player like Samsung is positioning to move off AWS by buying container company Joyent, the question of what type of cloud infrastructure a business should invest in is more prevalent than ever. In the debate of public vs. private vs. hybrid clouds, Greene backed up her argument for public clouds by looking to security, scalability, and the sheer engineering power to innovate behind IaaS.
"The reality is that the cloud is suddenly evolving faster than anyone expected," said Greene. "People say they'll support hybrid clouds, but on-prem is going to be a shrinking industry going forward. Big public clouds are the most secure place to be."
Greene also said the shift to public clouds is more about organizational change than a culture change for businesses. Enterprises are dealing with a whole new model of doing business, and looking to companies like Google to figure out the quickest ways to adapt to changing markets and technology.
"Organizationally, it's a whole new game when you support a big enterprise customer," said Greene. "It's not the same old enterprise, because you're not selling a product and saying 'enjoy!' You're saying okay, let's work together. You put your products on this cloud and we'll help you run them really well, and as you come out with new products and we come out with new innovations, we'll work to optimize your business."
As far as catching up to and surpassing AWS and Azure, Greene said Google is actively partnering with enterprise companies and expanding its cloud ecosystem. Don't expect Google to pull a Microsoft and use big-budget acquisitions to expand its reach in the enterprise space, though.
"We were thinking of acquiring Oracle," said Greene. "I'm just kidding!"