What should Google Cloud do to succeed in the enterprise space?

Google Cloud has now emerged as the 3rd contender in the hyper scale public cloud space. The number one is still Amazon AWS that started off the trend followed by Microsoft Azure that followed up with Satya Nadella’s aggressive push towards cloud that managed to creep into a lot of enterprise accounts.

However, Google has been in the cloud space for almost as long as the others. They have used it internally and really know how to run large scale data centers. Google has struggled to make a strong mark in the enterprise space. They are still the world’s best and for some people the only search engine and they are extremely good at what they do. However, all of this is touching the end consumers and does not really affect the enterprises that really care about what’s in (or moving out) of their datacenter.

I have been playing around with Google Cloud for a while now and I really think that they are getting there (and in some cases better) than what AWS can offer. However, winning the enterprise space will really skyrocket Google cloud, not just to drive incremental revenue for Google but also to speed up the innovation within Google Cloud. Only with user feedback will you be able to make something ‘enterprise grade’ and build all the bells and whistles that an enterprise needs.

Here are 5 things that I think Google should be going to compete effectively in this space and aggressively take on AWS and Azure to establish itself as a key leader in the public cloud spectrum:

  1. Adopt a Channel Friendly Strategy: In the enterprise space it is all about the channels (at least currently). Channels are very skeptical of public cloud vendors primarily because they believe it to be a direct threat for their current Value added business. Every channel partner wants to drive incremental revenue and margin and this is where Microsoft is playing to the tune. If Google can adopt a Channel Friendly strategy, start offering stronger rebates, enable the channels with training and certification as well as offer assurance that Google will not directly ‘poach’ the customers, then the channel will embrace Google Cloud. Google Cloud should also show on how the Channels can drive incremental revenue with services, management capabilities and helping customers to transform to cloud which will certainly be a value that the channel partners cannot refuse. Also embracing the Distributors in this game will be key for Google Cloud.
  2. Go aggressive on Pricing for a couple of years: This is a no brain-er. Public cloud wars are won based on pricing. There is really little loyalty especially when customers are experimenting with test and dev workloads. It would be critical to ensure that google adopts a pricing strategy that is better than AWS to begin with. Look for ways to drive incremental margins with value added services like AI, Google Machine Learning etc. This is the only way to provide a fundamental platform while at the same time ensuring the right levels of margins for Google.
  3. Drive a repatriation effort: There needs to be a strong repatriation effort for Google to drive along with key channel partners to help repatriate workloads from AWS and Azure to Google Cloud. Do not make this a battle of moving workloads from Enterprise data centers to Google Cloud. This is not a battle that Google needs to fight right now; AWS is already doing it. Instead, try to win over AWS and Azure customers with incentives, openness, right pricing, workload migration help and most importantly the ‘coolness’ Google brings to the table with technology.
  4. Talk about the ‘Hybrid’ story: Every enterprise customer is now talking of a Hybrid Cloud strategy. Enterprises are now a world where multi-cloud is a reality. Every customers wants to maintain control of their data and also maintain what’s in their datacenter. True, workloads will move to the cloud but the datacenters will continue to remain for atleast the next decade and workloads will continue to reside there. Playing to this tune can help Google penetrate this market very quickly. Ensuring that there is a Hybrid Strategy, and ensuring that workloads can easily move from datacenter to google cloud will be important for an enterprise. Google should not only touch the ‘Cloud Native’ space but also focus heavily in the traditional workloads. Leverage the channel partners mentioned before to do a lift and shift operation to move workload on the cloud. Use a strategy similar to AWS Snowmobile to help channel partners migrate the workloads (even though snowmobile is just for data, am sure Google can figure out a way for workloads too!). This will be a key winning strategy for Google Cloud.
  5. Make it easy to get out of Google Cloud: This sounds counter intuitive to the whole argument of getting customers to adopt Google Cloud but can in fact be the best defense. AWS is amazing but every customer I meet has always mentioned that they are Hotel California. You can check out but you will never leave. Azure to some extent is also very similar. By making Google cloud open and by providing tools and platforms for customers to easily repatriate their workload back to their data center as and when they need will be a very good strategy for Google to make sure that they get every enterprise customer to atleast try using Google Cloud for test and dev and eventually run production on their data center. Over a period of time they will slowly evolve and start moving the production workloads on Google Cloud, knowing very well that when they need to move it back to their data center, they can easily do so without any issues. Driving a strong ‘Anti-Lock-In’ message will go to the hearts of every enterprise customer and help Google penetrate the enterprise market.

I have deliberately not mentioned about acquisitions or partnerships because I think that while these could be good strategies for Google there are always pros and cons. Certainly there are companies out there that Google might consider buying but I am going with the assumption of ‘cheap’. Do what’s in your power first before you spend your hard earned dollars!

Let me know what you think of this article. Would love to get your feedback.