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COLUMN: Google's Alpha Bet: Why Google Cloud Is The Real Deal

CRN's Steve Burke says Thomas Kurian has brought order to what was a less-than-partner-friendly approach to the cloud market by Google Cloud.

Anyone who doubts Google Cloud has what it takes to make the grade versus Amazon Web Services or Microsoft would be wise to consider the impact that CEO Thomas Kurian has had in just 14 months on the job.

That’s the big takeaway from CRN Senior Editor Donna Goodison’s compelling look at what she refers to as “The Kurian Effect” in our cover story this month.

Kurian—a 22-year Oracle veteran who was in no small part responsible for upping Oracle’s cloud game—has brought order to what was a less-than-partner-friendly approach to the cloud market by Google Cloud.

Cue the cavalry-to-the-rescue bugle charge. Kurian has brought breakthrough multi-cloud technology in the form of Anthos; a razor-sharp, real-world, vertical market focus; and an enterprise sales force and partner strategy to back it all up.

My bet is that when Kurian took the job, he made sure he had the green light to leverage the breadth and depth $162 billion Google parent Alphabet can bring to bear on the cloud opportunity. Kurian knows that no one on the planet can match the search engine analytics intellectual property that Google has amassed. And he’s going to use it to give a big business outcome advantage to Google partners and customers.

When asked for the top selling points for Google Cloud over AWS and Microsoft, he told Goodison that customers get access to the broad set of innovations from both Google and Alphabet. Case in point: Kohl’s, the $19 billion department store behemoth with 1,100 stores in the U.S.

“One of the areas that we’ve worked [with Kohl’s] across Google is using our analytics foundation and our marketing and advertising tools to help them be much more targeted in how they use our technology to reach customers with offers, with promotions, with new products,” Kurian told Goodison. “That’s a common thing we do with retailers. That’s a combination of our expertise in the cloud around data science, large-scale data and analytics, coupled with the reach that we have on the consumer side with our search and ads.”

That critical combination is a powerful weapon for partners. The challenge for Google will be making sure that data science and analytics intellectual property show up in the Google Cloud solutions partners are bringing to market.

The vertical market focus Google has put in place—retail, health care and life sciences, financial services, telecommunications, media and entertainment, manufacturing/industrial and public sector—is going to be a big plus for partners as they look to take advantage of Google’s data science/analytics expertise.

Google also has finally made channel investments that are starting to bear fruit. There was 300 percent growth in the number of Google Cloud-certified partners last year along with a 195 percent increase in partner-sourced revenue.

When Google moved to the Alphabet structure, then-CEO Larry Page pointed to each business prospering with strong leadership to deliver what he called an “alpha-bet”—with “alpha” being an investment return above benchmark. That’s the path Google Cloud is on now.

Tom Galizia, senior technology partner and lead commercial partner for the Alphabet/Google group at Deloitte Consulting, said Kurian is “playing chess, not checkers.” Galizia, in fact, expects Deloitte’s Alphabet/Google work to be its fastest-growing billion-dollar business.

Watch for Kurian’s leadership to result in many more checkmate moves and big sales gains for Google Cloud and its partners.

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