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Thomas Kurian Pumps Up Channel Partners With Google Cloud Enterprise Charge

'They’re going to grow their business, and they’re going to grow their team, but they’re going to scale into the enterprise and into industries through partners, which is music to our ears at Accenture,' says Ajit Thomas, managing director of ecosystem and ventures at Accenture.

Channel partners hailed Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian and his stepped-up efforts to take on rivals Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure as the No. 3 cloud platform seeks to stake its claim in the enterprise market.

Kurian, speaking at Google Cloud Next ’19 today in San Francisco in his first major address since taking over from former CEO Diane Greene in January, unveiled a new open-source partnership program and the general availability of its rebranded Google Cloud Services hybrid cloud platform – now known as Anthos – with capabilities that extend beyond customers’ on-premise data centers and Google Cloud to competitors’ third-party clouds, including those of rivals AWS and Microsoft Azure.

“It was a great coming out party for ‘TK,’” said Tony Safoian, CEO of North Hollywood, Calif.- based SADA Systems, a Google Premier Partner. “There was a lot of validation from big enterprise. I appreciated that all of the relationships he has through his history in the enterprise became quite apparent, and I think that’s precisely the edge that Google Cloud needs right now to sort of transform into this really big enterprise player in the space.”

Google Cloud needs the leadership provided by Kurian, a former 22-year Oracle executive responsible for the software giant's cloud transformation strategy, according to Safoian.

Kurian took the stage at Google Cloud Next ’19 following an introduction by Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

“At Google, nothing excites us more than solving a problem, except maybe solving a problem at scale,” Pichai said. “We always had the ambition to use technology to improve the lives of as many people as possible. And enterprise gives us the opportunity to approach this in a profound way, by directly working together with the companies, businesses and institutions that power our global economy and drive important changes in our society.”

Cloud is one of the largest areas of investment for Google as a company, Pichai said, and he pledged that Google is in the space for “the very long term.”

Kurian in February vowed to aggressively invest in Google Cloud’s sales organization and channel relationship to boost its growth.

“So when you came to Google Cloud Next this morning, you probably never thought you would see the ability to build a workload, run it in your data center and have that workload be movable to Google Cloud or any other public cloud provider with zero change – Anthos,” Kurian said during today’s Google Next ’19 keynote address.

“When you came to Google Cloud Next this morning, you probably did not expect to see all the innovations we’re introducing in infrastructure – the only cloud that allows you to run mission-critical workload like SAP on virtual environments,” Kurian said. “It gives you better security, better performance, better reliability and no risks.”

“When you came to Google Cloud Next this morning, you probably never thought that you could use the best-of-breed open-source technology as a developer, using Google Cloud credits, and then Google would share our success with these partners so that you could continue to innovate using these technologies,” Kurian said.

Kurian unveiled a slew of new Google Cloud enterprise customers across the healthcare, financial services, telecommunications, media and entertainment, retail, and manufacturing and industrial industries in addition to public sector and education customers. They included McKesson, Phillips, Viacom, JP Morgan to National Geographic, Sprint, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Bose, UPS, Samsung, the General Services Administration, Georgetown University and UNC Chapel Hill.

Enterprise is where the big deals are for cloud providers and channel partners, according to SADA Systems’ Safoian.

“It’s hard to get to $10 (billion) to $30 billion without very big contracts and big commitments,” he said. “But, also, that’s where the technology itself gets pushed to the limit. Nobody has bigger, more ambitious scale, magnitude, requirements as the enterprise – financial services, healthcare and these other areas put an immense load on the technology itself. That’s where the technology gets proven.”

Safoian called Anthos a “game-changer.”

“I don’t know how any other cloud provider could create this automation framework that combines on-premise, their own cloud and other clouds,” he said. “It’s almost like building a new operating system for multi-cloud. It’s sort of a dream for the engineering community, for app developers and for the enterprise. It’s the ultimate freedom, and they become the operating system for that.”

Kurian, in a very short time, has made a significant impact on the Google Cloud organization, message and focus, according to Ajit Thomas, managing director of ecosystem and ventures at Accenture, where he leads the Google Cloud business group. Accenture, a global systems integrator based in Dublin, Ireland, also is partnered with AWS and Microsoft Azure.

“They’re going to grow their business, and they’re going to grow their team, but they’re going to scale into the enterprise and into industries through partners, which is music to our ears at Accenture,” Thomas said. “We’re…generally very excited about him and the impact that he’s going to have on Google Cloud and their traction in the market. We’re seeing client demand pick up and increase as a result of the changes that he’s already making.”

Google has been more supportive of a multi-cloud, hybrid cloud strategy than some of its competition, and that’s a differentiator for the cloud provider, according to Thomas. And Anthos offers options to customers, he said.

“When you think about our client base and enterprise clients, they’re in various stages of their journey in terms of digital transformation and migration to the cloud, and what Anthos does is allow them to de-risk that journey,” he said. “They can now seamlessly move across hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures and do that in a way that means that they, at pretty much any point, can make different decisions on which cloud and which infrastructure approaches to take. And for the ones that historically have been more hesitant to make their journey and think of it as a monolithic move, this gives them the opportunity to break it up and have some options.”

Google Cloud’s SAP announcements open a lot of opportunities for enterprises to move very large workloads onto Google Cloud, Thomas said.

“It shows their investments and the speed at which they’re willing to move in this space,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve seen either of the other partners move at this pace.”

And Google Cloud’s open-source ecosystem in another indication that flexibility is a very strong differentiator, Thomas noted.

Meanwhile, John Peak, co-founder of Atlanta’s Candid Partners, a Google Cloud Partner, characterized Kurian’s showing as “respectable.”

“I wouldn’t say he was electric, but I think he got the job done,” Peak said. “I think that the multi-cloud messaging and the strategy around that are a good start. I wouldn’t call it game-changing, but if they continue down this path for a year of really internalizing and taking to heart that they need to support multi-cloud, it could be game-changing.”

And Google Cloud’s strategy of growing with the enterprise market is a good one in Peak’s view.

“It’s better than a lot of people believe,” he said. “I see from the market and talking to enterprise customers a lot more interest than I’m hearing from analysts. Retail – very, very interested. I’m seeing consumer packaged goods. I’m seeing financial services. I’ve noticed, in the past six months in particular, there is a heightened level of interest in GCP.”

GCP has matured over the past year to where it is viable for large enterprises, according to Peak.

“GCP was viable for certain workloads within the enterprise up until about a year ago, and now I think it’s become more…viable as an overall enterprise solution for a vast majority of workloads for certain companies,” he said. “That, to me, is what’s changed over the last year for these guys. “

As far as Google Cloud taking on AWS, “they’re still, to me, two years behind AWS,” Peak said, but he sees an opening.

“AWS is starting to get diminishing returns,” he said. “AWS has become so feature-rich, it’s actually becoming a pretty complex platform. They’re getting diminishing returns around the capabilities of their platform, because enterprises just don’t know how to use all of the features.”

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