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There are many interesting parts of this interview with a Former Director of GCP who worked with Thomas Kurian at Google and Oracle and who was also at Microsoft during the launch of Azure.
Microsoft pretty much gave away Azure in the early days:
Everybody has at least Windows and/or Microsoft Office and Teams now, and Satya leveraged the heck out of that. They said, if you're a Microsoft customer, it's easy to add Azure. During the early days we would add Azure credits and people would ask what the hell is this $20,000 worth of Azure? We would say, don't worry about it; we just took $20,000 off your SQL Server licensing and gave you $20,000 monthly credit. That's how we planted that seed, and now they're using it and consuming it. - Former VP at Google Cloud
Microsoft had the enterprise customer base, FCF generation, and a great leader in Satya to plant the seeds of Azure.
Compare this to Oracle…
Oracle who at that time was one of the largest database companies in the world, shifted onto the cloud. When I was at Oracle, I realized how late Larry Ellison's strategy was, because he is very arrogant. I think his hubris let him down thinking they will never get off Oracle. He even challenged AWS and said Amazon would never get off Oracle, but they did it within 18 months. They shifted their ecommerce database consisting of millions of customers with billions of SKUs, over to Redshift. Then they realized they needed to do something about it, but it was too late. - Former VP at Google Cloud
Historically, GCP’s go-to-market strategy was built around BigQuery:
Google's business model is about capturing data and turning it into a profitable ads business. 80% of Google revenue comes from the ad side like YouTube data. They already knew how to capture that data and use AI and ML. They took those learnings from the Google side and engineered them to the cloud. When I was at Google, our pitch was that we had best in class data analytics. BigQuery was our flagship we were trying to pitch, and we had the most advanced AI to wrap around those products. That was our differentiator…The differentiator was you have this huge data you need to consolidate into a data warehouse and we had the best-in-class tools and the most intuitive interfaces, plus we can leverage data on your ads business, because many customers were spending millions with us on ads. Why don't we leverage that data to give you more of a 360 view of your customer and partners? - Former VP at Google Cloud
GCP seems to have an advantage acquiring customers that have large GOOG ad budgets (mainly retailers that don't want to be on AWS) or companies with high volume and high velocity workloads which work best on BigQuery.
But could this also mean GCP is more at risk from SNOW and Databricks that offer just as good analytics services but across all clouds?
Maybe this is more of a two-horse race between AWS and Azure than it seems.
AMZN was first to market with the greatest market share and every large enterprise customer either uses Windows, Office, or now Teams. If GCP’s GTM leads with BigQuery focusing on those with high volume, real-time workloads and a large ads business, GCP’s terminal market share could be lower than expected.