If you’re familiar with the enterprise world, you’re probably aware of the existence of a concept known as IaaS, or infrastructure as a service. For the uninitiated, this means that all the trappings of business IT, being hosting, storage, backend and other features, depending on the provider, are all maintained by the IaaS seller and used by the buyer. This is extremely useful for smaller companies like startups, or companies that are hitting financial rough patches, so long as their needs don’t exceed the IaaS products they can get from the companies that are on the serving end. In the IaaS world, there are three main players. Amazon Web Services is seen as the balanced option or “starter pack” that most novice companies go to, though they do have a number of big-ticket customers. Microsoft’s own cloud solutions enjoy a fairly massive following because of their reputation for professionalism, stability and great customer service. Google’s cloud services come in third, being seen by most as highly extendable, easy to work with and adaptable to growth. Specifically, according to analytics firm Synergy Research Group, AWS has a whopping 39 percent stranglehold on the market, Microsoft has 11 percent and Google has a fairly paltry 6 percent of the IaaS market. Clearly, they have their work cut out for them here.
Google’s “street cred”, being a bit of a grassroots company themselves, has attracted tons of hip startups, but their big enterprise adoption rate is a bit lacking, much like Amazon’s was around this time last year. They don’t have the traction of the other two members of the top three club, though, and although the main reason is that the cloud itself has a lot of maturing to do and Google hasn’t used a lot of its “growth time” yet, there are a few fixable reasons and Google is looking to address them.
Google’s Cloud VP and former Red Hat CTO, Brian Stevens, will have the help of VMware co-founder Diane Greene, with Google having laid down $380 million and acquired her startup, “BeBop”. Green estimates that the cloud is still far from mature, with only 5 percent of total potential cloud apps moved over at this time, not counting new developments that are made for the cloud in the coming years. He says of his division, “We’re investing to be a major player in the cloud,”. Google For Work VP Carl Schachter says the company has caught sufficient momentum to undo Amazon’s first-to-the-market advantage.
Greene, meanwhile, has a laundry list of goals to grow Google’s IaaS chops and become a viable rival to the top 2. By improving core features and integration with existing apps and systems, as well as upping the focus on security and exclusive features, Greene is hoping to make Google’s IaaS more appealing to a crowd beyond the code monkeys and entrepreneurs that frequent the service. From there, she’s hoping to build out a healthy partner network to do most of the legwork for her, while scoring big deals by appealing to big wigs and getting Google’s IaaS success stories out there. She’s hoping that, should all of this go off without a hitch, the resulting big data and enterprise traffic might just boost Google’s IaaS beyond Microsoft, their leader by 5 percent of the total market. A commitment to keeping pricing competitive certainly won’t hurt, but growing the variety, quality and reputation of services offered is first on that list. Given her pedigree, just bringing Greene on board was a step in this direction on Google’s part.
Aside from the to-do list below, there are a number of issues keeping Google’s cloud mojo from flowing properly at the moment. Their primary marketing push is that they’re essentially selling the same type of system they use for internal applications. Obviously, this won’t appeal to everybody looking for an IaaS partner. Google’s IaaS platform, as such, was built for them, rather than as a product for others to “build to suit”, so to speak. That being the case, those not looking to run things the way Google does have some adapting and tweaking to do. Another side effect of this is that the razor’s edge market that Google courts most of the time sees their service as just a bit less appealing. Fixing these issues will likely require not only some tweaks and improvements to core services, but a complete overhaul of public opinion regarding Google and perhaps IaaS in general. If anybody can pull this off, of course, it would be the dream team of Greene and Stevens, but only time will tell if they can pull the company out of its IaaS rut.