Cloud computing can mean many things to many people, but one of the foundations of the technology is having computing work completed remotely from whatever terminal is being used to access the service. If you use Gmail rules and the Gmail application on your smartphone or tablet, this is one very simple example of cloud computing. The Google Photos search is another example, as the search function is performed by Google's cloud system and farms of servers hosted somewhere else on the planet. For businesses as well as individuals, there are many advantages in using a cloud computing service. One is the potential access to more powerful computing technology but only as and when it is needed, rather than having to buy or lease the equipment and maintain it 24/7. Another is that cloud computing is inherantly dispersed from your main office or manufacturing plant as the work is completed off site and merely piped into and out of the server.
In the sector today, there are currently many businesses offering cloud services. The number is dwindling as these companies look to consolidate, but the leader is universally considered to be Amazon. Microsoft is positioned in the number two spot with Google making inroads, having invested a considerable amount of time and effort into new facilities and technologies. Despite this investment, Google is still seen as playing catch up with the bigger two businesses. Google is considered to be in the number three spot but the reality is that we cannot be certain: many of Google's core services rely on cloud computing and the business has been making a push into the technology. We've recently seen Google hire Diane Greene into the cloud business to help push it forward and in the very recent earnings call, Google's Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai, explained that Google's cloud platform now runs four million applications.
Four million sounds an impressive number, but unfortunately it is difficult to put this into context: four million applications is not the same as four million customers. Sundar did not discuss the revenue generated by the cloud platform or the revenue "run rate" (this is a figure based on projected revenue across the next twelve months). Sundar also explained that the cloud business "is already getting significant traction. It's a strongly growing business for us." Google is making the cloud technology a major investment area as we head into 2016, but one potential stumbling block is how committed Google is to offering cloud computing. A Google trait is dropping support for a business that it is no longer interested in, as we have seen the company do again and again. Enterprise customers do not want to invest into the Google cloud platform to find in a few years that Google is not interested and closing the unit down.