Picture three American muscle cars parked in the enterprise driveway. One, the largest vehicle, carries the badge ‘AWS’, the second ‘Microsoft Azure’, and the third ‘Google’. But closer inspection of the third car reveals a shiny new badge that says ‘Google Cloud Services Platform’.
As of today, these are the three leading options for organisations that want to start driving off premise and into the cloud – still a much bigger enterprise opportunity than many people realise after years of cloud hype and hybrid solutions, given that 95 percent of data still resides on premise.
The hood has been up on the Google car for a couple of years, but Google’s Cloud Next conference, which kicked off yesterday in San Francisco at a revamped Moscone Centre, slammed the bonnet shut and revved up the engine to launch the Google Cloud Services Platform as a new enterprise-focused suite.
The analogy may be clumsy, but it is how one Google customer, Target CIO Mike McNamara, said he sees the cloud technology landscape: three performance cars in a straight enterprise race into the cloud. And Target, of course, chose Google; indeed, McNarama’s presence onstage had a clear message for delegates: Google is enterprise ready.
In fact, McNamara was wrong: it’s a four-car race, with IBM also on the driveway, with its focus on enterprise-grade cognitive services. Canalys research from February this year gives Amazon a 32 percent share of the global cloud infrastructure market, Microsoft 14 percent, Google eight percent, and IBM four percent.
Google on premise
But for many organisations, the cloud isn’t always about going off premise or into public clouds; many enterprises choose hybrid solutions, as they mix legacy technologies with on-demand services, ramping them up or dialling them down to meet the peaks and troughs of the market: the key PR narrative of the past 10 years.
So the launch of Google’s Cloud Services Platform last night wasn’t the only headline: Google is also offering its services as an on-premise solution for the first time, via its open-source Kubernetes project. The Cloud Services Platform sees Google offering businesses an integrated set of cloud services that can either be deployed in Google’s cloud, or on premise with an offering called GKE On-Prem.
Among the drivers behind this mix-and-match approach will be AI and machine learning, which enterprise customers will be able to access as cloud services while managing their workloads on premise.
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene said that “security is the number one worry, and AI is the number one opportunity” for CIOs. (Watch highlights from Greene’s keynote presentation in the video at the foot of this page.)
But as the rise of dedicated on-premise AI hardware demonstrates, for many large organisations the future of applying AI and ML to massive data sets is more likely to be on premise than in the cloud, so Google is establishing a base in both environments for the first time.
Google enters the call centre market
Also in the packaged solutions mix is Google’s new Contact Center AI, revealing that Google is serious about entering the customer help desk and call centre space via its Duplex AI and Assistant solutions – to which Google is adding more workplace-centred functions.
Contact Center AI sees Google partnering with contact centre specialists, such as Genesys, to provide a solution that offers AI assistance to human agents – “human-centered AI,” in the words of Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist at Google Cloud AI.
The emphasis on people shows that Google is following the lead of Microsoft and IBM in positioning its AI offerings as complementary services – tools that augment human abilities rather than replace them.
- Read more: Google announces new ethical AI strategy
Google is also entering the HR and human capital management space with another enterprise cloud offering, Talent Solution, which uses deep learning to improve talent acquisition – a smart talent search, in effect.
Meanwhile, Google is adding new capabilities to its AutoML function, which uses machine learning to build ML models from custom datasets.
Internet of Business says
While Google’s core business remains driven by advertising revenues, cloud was the rising star in Alphabet’s Q2 financial results, published on Monday night – parallel to the rise of another Web services business, AWS, at Amazon.
That AI and ML will be the key for many organisations entering the cloud with hybrid solutions or ventures is clear, with the vast mass of data that is not yet in the cloud an obvious future revenue generator for Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and other enterprise cloud players.
But there remains a big problem, as well as a big opportunity: customers’ strong desire to rush into AI for the wrong reasons – tactically to save money, rather than as a long-term strategic bet to improve the user experience for their customers.
This mismatch between what vendors and researchers believe they are creating – cognitive services to augment and complement human abilities – and what many enterprises believe they are getting – a new form of outsourcing to enable them to slash costs and headcount – will provide the main tension in the enterprise technology market over the next 20 years.