Google gobbles up more big-name cloud customers

Google, saying the enterprise cloud is a natural extension of its mission, announced new customers and tools for the enterprise at its largest business conference to date.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Google came late to the enterprise party in the cloud, but the company is making up for lost time. Developers and the enterprises, which Google will need to attract more business away from Amazon and Microsoft, are taking notice -- as was evidenced here by big crowds and a standing-room only audience at the company’s Google Cloud Next conference.

At the kickoff keynote Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google Cloud, announced several new customers, including eBay, HSBC, Colgate-Palmolive and Verizon Communications.

Google defines cloud in transformational terms

Google, which claims more than 18 years of experience in technology innovation and computing advancement, is now closing about half of the deals it pursues in the enterprise, Greene said during a press conference after the keynote. The cloud is no longer just a place for surplus data or startups that can’t afford to manage their own data and applications, she said. “Cloud is just a transformational technology. It’s changing how people architect their information and use their data.”

Google’s leading executives were also on hand to share their vision for the enterprise and why Google is pursuing the cloud as its next growth engine. The company is making an “extraordinarily big bet” on Google Cloud, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. “In many ways, to me Google Cloud is a natural extension of our mission” to put the world’s information at everyone’s fingertips, he said.

[Related: Google Cloud leader lays out ambitious plans for the enterprise]

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, said Google has the money, means, resources and determination to bring its vision for the enterprise cloud to global scale. “We’re here for real,” he said. “This is an incredibly serious mission -- something I’ve wanted to do since I started at the company 17 years ago.”

Google showcases customer experiences

Businesses like Colgate-Palmolive, which has 38,000 employees in 223 countries, has generated significant value from moving to the G Suite, according to Mike Crowe, the company’s CIO. During the last few months, the consumer-packaged goods company has moved 28,000 employees to G Suite and at one point moved 20,000 employees in a weekend, he said.

“In just a little over three months we see that people are working differently,” Crowe said. Colgate-Palmolive’s G Suite users are quickly moving beyond email and calendar and embracing other Google apps in the portfolio. The company’s employees had more than 57,000 hours of video hangouts last month and 90 percent of its G Suite users are active on Google Drive, according to Crowe.

Verizon’s forthcoming G Suite deployment is on another level, however, making it a premier customer for Google’s enterprise business. The company is preparing to move more than 150,000 employees to G Suite during the coming weeks.

Alin D’Silva, vice president and CTO of digital workforce at Verizon, said there was a fair amount of resistance to going to the cloud, but those concerns were allayed during deep discussions between Google’s team and Verizon’s stakeholders in security, data management and the many processes that will be impacted by a change in services.

“If you’re mission is to go transform the company, you’ve got to have meaningful change, otherwise what’s the change?” D’Silva said.

Google partners with SAP, releases AI tools

Google Cloud also announced a new partnership with SAP to integrate its cloud services with SAP’s enterprise apps. Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning at Google Cloud, showcased new machine learning tools like the Video Intelligence API, which makes it easier to search and discover video content. She also announced the acquisition of Kaggle, an online service that hosts data science with hundreds of thousands of data scientists on the platform, general availability of the Cloud Machine Learning Engine and the Cloud Vision API 1.1 beta.

[Related: Google upgrades G Suite with tools for IT pros]

“The world is changing incredibly fast. Some say that we’re living in the fourth industrial revolution,” Li said. “I’ve witnessed my field growing from a lofty, academic pursuit to the biggest driver of this change… “The tools we use to build AI solutions are becoming more sophisticated in their functions and also easier to use.”

She argued that AI must now be democratized to make the technology available to the largest possible community of developers, enterprises and vendors. “We stand to witness a greater improvement in quality of life than at any other time in history… “There’s no shortage of examples of AI solving real-world problems.”

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