If you asked most C-level information technology buyers about Google's enterprise cloud efforts they'd wonder out loud whether there was serious interest in them.
And why wouldn't a CXO wonder if Google's plan to challenge Amazon Web Services was a passing hobby? Almost a year ago, Google launched its initial cloud infrastructure efforts. The plan sounded pretty strong in May 2013. Then there was nothing, but radio silence.
I pretty much wrote off Google's enterprise cloud effort as another Google I/O launch and leave venture.
The last two weeks changed that equation. Rest assured that Google's cloud efforts are still behind Amazon Web Services and all the previous challenges remain, but the company is at least preparing to mount a challenge. To wit:
Last week, Google launched a bevy of new services and cut its pricing. Google also outlined sustain usage discounts, which could alter the cloud equation for some companies.
The entire infrastructure cloud market is racing to the bottom when it comes to price. AWS cut its prices a day after Google did. According to Rightscale AWS, Microsoft, Google and others simply trade price cuts. Eventually you may get to free. Google's spin on pricing though may open up a few eyes. Forrester analyst James Staten said:
Google’s new Sustained-use Discounts returns that value to customers without the hassle of forecasting or predicting your forward cloud use. It’s a simple and highly compelling value - if you use more, you get a bigger discount, automatically. Hard not to like this value as you can now use more without worrying if you will be hit by the shock bill so many cloud pioneers have faced.
Add it up and Google warrants consideration in an enterprise sandbox. AWS will still garner more wallet share, but Google---assuming it follows through in the months ahead with more enterprise cloud goodness---can be a player. Here's a look at RightScale's pricing bakeoff.
Like AWS' first efforts, enterprises are likely to try Google out in developer projects and then expand. Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz and team said in a research note:
(Google's) deep price cuts and simplification of the pricing structure were a direct hint that they are committed to challenging AWS on pricing and passing on any technology savings to the customer...We believe that AWS remains the leader in Cloud computing but its position would be challenged more often by big competitors such as Google and Microsoft.
The cloud dream here is obvious: If enterprises used AWS, Microsoft, Rackspace, Google and IBM's SoftLayer (or any other vendor ranging from Oracle to HP to Verizon) companies could just let a computing trading algorithm arbitrage pricing. That day is far off, but Google has made it worthwhile to play the cloud field.