Google Cloud Hires Former Microsoft Vet As New AI VP

‘Our customers have asked for more assistance as they grow their businesses using Google’s AI tools, and Oliver’s passion for innovation and customer success aligns perfectly with our mission to empower customers with new AI solutions,’ says Google Cloud’s Adaire Fox-Martin about the hiring of Oliver Parker (pictured).

Google Cloud has hired a new artificial intelligence leader to drive its global AI go-to-market strategy, an executive who has over 18 years of experience at rival Microsoft.

Oliver Parker is Google Cloud’s new vice president of artificial intelligence, tasked with the company’s AI go-to-market strategy and leader of a newly formed global organization of sales and technical resources responsible for advancing Google Cloud’s AI portfolio across its customer base.

Parker previously worked at Microsoft for nearly two decades in various top executive sales leadership and general manager roles from 2000 until 2018, including general manager of Microsoft’s midmarket business, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He most recently served as senior vice president and general manager of Okta, responsible for the company's Americas business.

He joined Okta in 2022 after a four-year stint as vice president of Google Cloud’s sales organization. Parker built and led the team that was responsible for Google’s U.S. West Coast business across all customer segments.

[Related: Google Cloud: 5 AI Trends And Tips To Win GenAI Deals In 2024]

Microsoft and Google Cloud are fierce rivals in AI and cloud computing as both tech giants have poured billions of dollars into artificial intelligence innovation in 2023, specifically generative AI, with no plans on slowing down in 2024.

Adaire Fox-Martin, president of Google Cloud’s go-to-market, said she was thrilled to welcome Parker into the “pivotal AI leadership” role.

“Our customers have asked for more assistance as they grow their businesses using Google’s AI tools, and Oliver’s passion for innovation and customer success aligns perfectly with our mission to empower customers with new AI solutions,” said Fox-Martin in a statement to CRN.

Google Cloud Aligning Its AI Strategy

“It’s fantastic to see Google doubling down on AI leadership,” said Ben Kessler, president of 66degrees, a Chicago-based Google Cloud data and AI partner. “I know that Oliver has a strong track record at Google Cloud.”

Google said Parker’s hiring is part of the company’s strategy to focus on aligning its AI portfolio to its customers’ most critical needs. Last year, Google Cloud launched a new portfolio of GenAI products including Vertex AI, Model Garden, Duet AI and a new AI-powered collaborator, just to name a few.

Kessler said there are several reasons why Google Cloud will become one of the premier AI market leaders on a worldwide scale.

“Google’s DNA is AI. They have been doing AI longer, frankly, than anyone else out there. The history and legacy of a company built upon data engineers and built by engineers allows them to have years of experience and a front run on the market,” said Kessler. “A company built for engineers is going to have a leg up. It’s not just the history, it’s ultimately the DNA within the company. It’s an engineering company. That’s a tremendous way to have a huge leg up on the competition.”

Google’s ownership of AI products and large language models, such as with its Gemini and PaLM solutions, also enables the company to “differentiate” itself from the competition, Kessler said. In addition, Google Cloud’s growing partner ecosystem and channel strategy are a major AI advantage.

“The state of their partner ecosystem allows them to grow very quickly in AI,” said Kessler.

“The partner ecosystem in AWS and Microsoft is mature. The partner ecosystem is maturing in Google, but it is still forming. And [Google Cloud channel chief] Kevin [Ichhpurani] and [CEO Thomas] Kurian have the ability to shape that ecosystem for AI.”

Google Cloud’s AI Push

Google Cloud’s Ichhpurani recently told CRN that revenue growth and customer stickiness Google Cloud partners can achieve this year by winning generative AI deals is the biggest services opportunity the channel has ever witnessed.

“Transforming a company’s business using generative AI and analytics is a much higher-value service versus just lifting and shifting VMs because you’re significantly impacting the business,” said Ichhpurani, Google Cloud’s corporate vice president and head of global ecosystem and business development.

“If you can help a pharmaceutical company redo the way they do drug discovery, you’re talking about billions of dollars getting drugs to market faster,” he said. “You can help the insurance company rethink the way they do claims and cut out all the arduous paper processes. Or have a bank improve its anti-money-laundering process. We’re talking about billions of dollars of impact.”

By leveraging all of Google’s new GenAI offerings and capabilities, Google Cloud partners have the ability this year to grow customers’ top line while also making improvements to the bottom line with GenAI solutions.

“When you’re at the C-suite and you’re really impacting the business’ top line and making massive improvements in the bottom line—there’s a much bigger services opportunity,” said Ichhpurani. “So that’s what we’re very focused in on: building out that ecosystem.”