Google’s Thomas Kurian: ‘We’re The Most Open Cloud’ For AI

As Google battles AWS and Microsoft in the AI arms race, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian says his company offers the ‘most open cloud when it comes to AI.’

Google Cloud is the most open cloud platform for businesses seeking to implement and leverage AI and generative AI, said CEO Thomas Kurian.

“Importantly, we’re the most open cloud when it comes to AI,” said Kurian as part of CRN’s 2024 CEO Outlook project. “Google Cloud is the only major cloud provider offering both first-party AI models and third-party AI models on equal footing, which is an incredible differentiator when our partners speak with customers.”

Kurian said Google Cloud is not “all in or dependent” on any particular model but committed to offering a broad choice.

“For instance, our Model Garden on Vertex AI offers 130-plus foundation models today,” said Google Cloud’s CEO. “The choice of models and depth of capabilities on Google Cloud will continue to grow.”

[Related: AWS Vs. Microsoft Vs. Google Cloud Earnings Q4 2023 Face-Off]

Irfan Khan, CEO of Google Cloud AI partner Cloudsufi, said Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is “very flexible, open and sustainable.”

“When we go to our customers, their services are highly scalable, very automated and the flexibility allows business to scale,” Khan said. He added that there are customers in various industries seeking Cloudsufi and Google Cloud’s AI solutions in 2024, including health-care, education and government customers.

“They love services like BigQuery for data warehousing, which is an AI platform for machine learning. It’s a pretty powerful concept to do it. It’s enabling businesses to analyze big data, sophisticated models, etc. There’s much more curation in Google’s models coming in right now,” said Khan.

The AI Race Between Google, AWS And Microsoft

In 2023, the three largest cloud computing companies on the planet—Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft—each poured millions into building new AI products and forming partnerships with AI companies such as OpenAI and Anthropic.

All three companies now offer generative AI solutions, such as large language models (LLMs) and AI collaboration tools and chatbots. For example, Google just launched its new AI LLM Gemini that looks to eventually power many of Google Cloud’s most popular products and services.

In terms of global cloud market share, AWS ranks No. 1 with 31 percent share of the worldwide cloud infrastructure services market as of fourth-quarter 2023. Microsoft ranks No. 2 at 23 percent share, followed by Google at 11 percent share.

Google Cloud’s CEO told CRN that channel partners will lead the way in the company’s AI and GenAI push in 2024 and beyond.

“Google Cloud partners are now seeing AI infused into virtually every customer engagement,” said Kurian. “We’re committed to providing our partners with the right resources, tools, support and incentives to meet this opportunity and build their own thriving AI businesses.”

To support Google Cloud partners, the company is increasing incentives and financial rewards around AI.

“For instance, we are substantially increasing our incentives for partners across both Google Workspace and GCP, and increasing rewards for partners who drive more workload adoption and accelerate adoption of key products like AI,” Kurian said.

Kurian’s Top Priority In 2024

In terms of Google Cloud’s top priority in 2024, Kurian said its all about generative AI.

“My top priority of 2024 is: ensuring all organizations can build, use and successfully adopt generative AI to fuel their digital transformations,” he said.

In fourth-quarter 2023, Google Cloud generated $9.2 billion in total revenue, representing an increase of 26 percent year over year. The company now has an annual run rate of nearly $37 billion.

For the first time in its history, Google Cloud generated a profit in 2023. In fourth-quarter 2023, the company captured operating income of $864 million, up significantly from an operating loss of $186 million year over year.