Google Steps Up Enterprise Cloud Push With First Sales Leader For North America

Kirsten Kliphouse is an industry veteran who’s been involved in channel outreach at Microsoft and Red Hat and will head a Google Cloud team that will work closely with partners.

Google's cloud division is looking to supercharge its push to win enterprise customers with the hire of its first sales leader dedicated to the North American business.

Kirsten Kliphouse, a longtime Microsoft veteran who last led North America commercial sales at Red Hat, will take charge of all sales on the continent as Google Cloud president for North America, the company said Thursday.

The team Kliphouse leads will work closely with channel partners and customers across the spectrum of sizes.

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Kliphouse can remedy a major misstep Google Cloud has made in years past, said Dj Das, founder and CEO of Third Eye Consulting, a Google partner based in San Francisco.

"They thought that if Google builds it, somehow all enterprises will start using it," Das said. "They have been proved wrong in their approach."

The key is understanding the delicate balance between products and consulting services when implementing cloud solutions.

"Everyone thinks that they go to the cloud, give the CC, click on some buttons and things happen. In real life, the picture is a lot different," he told CRN.

But Kliphouse, with her wealth of experience, can course-correct.

"She comes from a professional services background and understands what it means to work with enterprises, understand their needs, pain points and then stitch together a wholesome solution leveraging the best-of-breed technology," Das said. "It's refreshing to see Google waking up to this reality."

The decision to create the position, and fill it with someone of Kliphouse's pedigree, shows Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian has prioritized expanding Google's base of enterprise customers, said Tony Safoian, CEO of Los Angeles-based Google partner SADA Systems.

As a solution provider with regional focus on North America, SADA welcomes Kliphouse's expertise in sales as it looks to win deals in the enterprise and midmarket, he said.

"Kurian has made some bold moves with recent key hires and acquisitions," Safoian told CRN.

Earlier this week, Google entered an agreement to buy Elastifile, expanding Google Cloud’s enterprise file storage offerings. And in June, Google said it would spend $2.6 billion on Looker Data Sciences, a business analytics software vendor.

Some of the prominent hires since Kurian took over the cloud business at the start of the year include Robert Enslin, a 27-year SAP veteran who sat on the software giant's executive board. Enslin was brought on in April to lead all of Google Cloud's customer-facing operations.

A month before that, in March, Kurian brought in his former employee, Amit Zavery, who took over as the top executive at Oracle's cloud division after Kurian's departure. Zavery now leads the Apigee team at Google Cloud.

Kliphouse worked on some startups before her year and a half as a senior vice president at Red Hat, where her job involved working with partners on implementing open-source solutions.

Her tenure at Microsoft started in 1991. Over 25 years at the software giant, she rose to vice president of enterprise sales and partners. Before that, she led Microsoft's global customer support organization.

Kliphouse will focus her sales team's efforts on the full market, from large enterprises to SMBs. Google said she will also be involved in customer adoption of G Suite and other cloud services.