As Kurian takes over at Google Cloud Platform, here are the big questions

Thomas Kurian brings strategy and sales knowhow to Google Cloud Platform. Here's a look at the moving parts and open questions to address.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Thomas Kurian will take the reins of Google Cloud Platform from Diane Greene and enterprise buyers have more than enough to watch and ponder. Simply put, Kurian is going to bring a cultural change to GCP and it's worth watching how the strategy changes over time.

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On Friday, Google announced that Kurian would take over for Greene. Analysts were positive on the news. Jefferies analyst Brett Thill said Kurian can propel Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to its next phase of growth.

Thill said:

We believe Thomas Kurian, recently President of Product Development at Oracle, is the right hire to take Google Cloud to the next level, with a top reputation in providing strategic technology to large enterprises. We believe he is one of the top tech executives in Silicon Valley.

But questions remain. GCP is in a good position, but Kurian will have his challenges. Here's a look at some of the key questions enterprise tech buyers need to consider.

Does GCP have a go-to-market issue? Kurian knows product, but he also knows how to woo CIOs, target verticals and cross-sell. While Greene brought CIO cred to GCP and built a large organization focused on large enterprises over three years she wasn't a master pitchwoman. Kurian will be more glossy and likely to hone GCP's go-to-market strategy and recruit a sales army. Google's engineering is second-to-none, but the company's cloud unit has historically struggled to put together a coherent narrative and sales strategy.

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Will Kurian push for more mergers and acquisitions for GCP? Kurian is a strong strategist and Google has the market cap to drive cloud acquisitions that can resonate with CIOs. ServiceNow and Nutanix would be potential choices.

Will GCP make a move on AWS and Microsoft Azure? GCP is clearly in the big three public cloud provider conversation, but it hasn't exactly taken share from AWS or Azure or slowed their growth. It's telling that GCP chatter on Google's recent conference calls has minimized.

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Can GCP develop its hybrid cloud game more? GCP has made some inroads on its hybrid cloud strategy for enterprises, but it is competing with the following:

Does Kurian's Oracle experience apply to GCP? Kurian reportedly butted heads with Oracle CTO Larry Ellison on cloud strategy. Based on the public cloud standings, Kurian is jumping from a primarily SaaS player (Oracle) with broader ambitions for infrastructure to GCP, which is No. 3. It remains to see if Kurian's jump in the cloud standings can help GCP move up.

How many Oracle execs will be brought over to GCP? To say that Oracle and Google have vastly different cultures would be a massive understatement. Kurian is likely to bring trusted lieutenants over to GCP and those moves will lead to cultural upheaval. The big question is whether the reshuffling will impact operations and customer facing functions.

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Can Kurian's knowledge of the database business provide an opening for GCP? It's open season on Oracle's core database business, but the software vendor remains strong. Kurian has inside knowledge of Oracle and that can lead to openings for Google to attack the database and applications market.

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