Google cloud chief on tackling the enterprise

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Google's cloud leader discusses one of the biggest IT challenges related to enterprise cloud deployments and offers advice on how companies can identify the business functions that are best suited for the cloud.

SAN FRANCISCO — Google is looking to strategically tackle the enterprise cloud market by open sourcing some of its internal technologies, embracing a multiplatform design principle and setting what it thinks are reasonable expectations for what its customers should move into the public cloud. The company hopes to continue making strides in the crowded market, which Amazon dominates, by helping enterprises identify business processes that can rapidly transition to the cloud and deliver the fastest ROI.

Now that companies can store all the data they want in the cloud for as little as $0.01 per GB per month, figuring out what to do with it all is a significant challenge, according to Greg DeMichillie, Google Cloud Platform's (GCP) director of product management, who spoke with CIO.com at the GCP user conference last week. "It's the needle in the haystack," DeMichillie says. "Companies are drowning in data that they know, or that they suspect, there's value in ... but they don't know how to get the value out of it."

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The traditional methods for extracting value from this data are often manual, labor-intensive and wasteful, DeMichillie says, and customers frequently ask Google how the company can help them make better, faster business decisions based on data.

When startups, small-to-midsize businesses or large enterprises decide to invest in the public cloud, they must look at their entire IT portfolios to determine the specific pieces that they can immediately move to the cloud, according DeMichillie. "You don't replace a well-functioning application just because there's newer technology," he says. "You replace when the business need drives a need to modernize the application." 

Web serving technologies, data and analytics, archiving, storage, and developer tests tend to be the lowest hanging fruit for most companies, according to DeMichillie, because they're the easiest to move and deliver the quickest ROI. Businesses should try to shrink the footprint of legacy IT with the goal of moving all future development in the cloud, he says.

Google's purposeful multiplatform approach to enterprise cloud

Google's own products also benefit as the company open sources more of its technical infrastructure for GCP customers. For example, GCP shares a lot of underlying technology with Google for Work, including identity and access controls, users provisioning, and synchronizing with on-premise Microsoft Active Directory, according to DeMichillie.

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Many enterprise cloud customers use a mix of offerings from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM, GCP and other providers. "We have customers who are very multiplatform as a design principle," DeMichillie says. "They say, 'Look, I remember the '90s, I remember picking a vendor, then 10 years later being stuck.' We want to build not just on-ramps, but off-ramps."

"If you are deeply unhappy with Google, you should be able to move off of us," he says. "You should stay with us because you're happy, not because we've put a bunch of hooks into the system that make it impossible to leave."

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