Google’s cloud computing business may have a hit $10 billion annual revenue run rate with the fourth-quarter 2019 earnings, but is it on course to topple Amazon in the enterprise cloud war? With Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc’s showing worst fourth-quarter revenue growth since 2015, the company will need to aggressively pursue more growth opportunities and strengthen its capabilities within this vertical if it wants to have a fighting chance.
A marked shift from typical financial disclosures, the company published its Q4 results on a minute basis, including fresh data on Google Search, YouTube and Cloud. The growth in cloud, which has been up 53% year-over-year, was driven by Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and brought in $2.6 billion, up from $1.7 billion in the year before.
By comparison, Amazon Web Services (AWS) brought in nearly $10 billion in sales in its quarterly results, hitting a $40 billion annual run rate, which is four times the projection for Google.
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What is missing in Google’s strategy that has helped AWS to sustain its dominance in the cloud market?
Investment in the partner ecosystem
AWS’s strategic partnerships are said to have benefited the company in its quarterly results. This is one of the reasons why Google urgently requires rewriting its enterprise narrative to on-board more services and partners. This will ultimately lead to better traction of its cloud business in India. The company, however, has been making some strides in this space, especially after it hired Oracle veteran, Thomas Kurien, last year as Google Cloud CEO.
Under his direction, the company bought Elastifile — a cloud storage solutions startup, and also acquired data analytics company Looker the same year. More recently, Google also acquired no-code app-development vendor AppSheet and entered into a strategic partnership with IBM, to widen its portfolio of services.
Google’s most notable partnership, especially from an Indian standpoint, has to be with Bharti Airtel that enables India’s third-largest telecom operator to offer G Suite to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in India. With nearly half a billion people in India coming online last decade and small businesses increasingly using digital tools, it could be a smart move to widen its footprint in this market. Interestingly, AWS was a cloud services provider for Airtel in the past but is no longer in partnership with the company.
AWS has a sound footing across customers on the back of its portfolio strength. In contrast, Google’s product strategy has consistently lacked an enterprise-focused customer-support. There has been some development since Kurien took over the reins in 2018 to infuse a deep sense of empathy in the company for customers’ problems. This cultural shift in the fabric of Google’s business has led to more-specialised solutions, without compromising on the company’s unmatched technology stack.
Concurrently, Google has been upping its ante to bolster its sales and support teams. While AWS also continues to expand its teams, with massive operations in North America, which has been growing at breakneck speed; Google’s blitzkrieg of new hires in its go-to-market teams will help the company sell to more prospective clients.
Strengthening Data Centres
AWS has been aggressively investing in data centres, and the tech giant continues to boost its spending on cloud infrastructure. The company recently bought 100 acres of land in Virginia, which is already home to its largest data centre hub worldwide. But Google isn’t far behind.
The company had apportioned a part of a $13 billion investment on data centres in 2019. More importantly, it officially entered the enterprise data centre market last year with its hybrid-cloud platform Anthos. It was a step ahead of AWS, whose outposts landed in data centres only in December 2019.
The aggregation of these strategic moves will take Google Cloud into a higher gear, especially in the brutally competitive cloud computing business. By revamping, and thereby recreating its business-optimisation solutions, the company could match its advanced capabilities in technology and possibly trounce AWS as the leader in the cloud market arena.