Google and Intel recently announced a strategic partnership that aims to accelerate cloud adoption in the enterprise segment. The deal brings together two companies that have been a bit late to the cloud race and aim to close the gap with the current leaders in their respective segments. Intel and Google will be working together on four thrust areas: Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Security and Kubernetes, an open source container system designed by Google.
“We’ve worked closely with Intel for years on datacenter processor technology, and are now expanding our collaboration to help enterprise customers move from legacy infrastructure to an open, secure and future-proof cloud. The alliance will focus on technology integrations and joint market education efforts.” – Google Blog
How Does the Google – Intel Partnership Address the Market Need?
The problem of shifting from their traditional IT architecture to completely embrace the cloud is an ongoing one for most enterprise-level companies. For starters, it’s an extremely complex process, and then there is always the fear of losing control over their data. If cloud companies cannot address this problem, a bulk of these enterprises are just going to sit outside the cloud. IBM, for example, certainly thinks that hybrid is the way to go due to this simple reason – the pain of complete transition into cloud is not worth the returns, especially if you are a big enterprise.
“You just can’t pick up and move every workload,” said Nan Boden, head of global alliances at the newly branded Google Cloud, in an interview. “You have to come up with an architecture that makes it practical for these companies to be able to take advantage of these new technologies in the cloud and new economics in the cloud.” – CNBC
Google seems to have realized this trend which, of course, is well known to all cloud players. What is different here is that Google intends to hit the heart of the problem – with companies that are sitting on the fence – and creating solutions to get them to jump off the wall into the cloud side. According to 451 Research, only 41% of all enterprise workloads are currently running in some type of cloud, and that number is expected to rise to 60% by 2018.
Even at that level there is considerable amount of market that is going to sit outside the cloud. As such, if they expect to increase the potential market size, it will be the collective responsibility of the top cloud players – Amazon, Microsoft and Google – to make sure that they address the key issue of shifting to the cloud.
In an interview I did earlier this year with Dr. Jim Comfort, IBM’s Chief Technology Officer for Cloud, this is what he said about IBM’s approach to helping enterprises move to cloud:
“So this is why we talk about… the reality of the world is there will be things that exist that were created in the enterprise world that they’ve lived in that have to co-exist with, be integrated with, share data with or be a part of the overall cloud solution. Even though there’s a lot of attention on the cloud side: the fast-moving, the new mobile application and so on, it still has to talk to, share data and integrate with the rest of what’s going on in an enterprise. That’s what hybrid means.
You can imagine, given those two centers of mass, it’s going to be some time. And we’re recognized by most analysts as the number one in hybrid, because we’re really looking at how do you stitch that together. If I’m looking at it from the existing estate, how do I modernize that estate, how do I expose APIs, make it discoverable. On the cloud side, how do I get the tools that make it easy to find the APIs, easily to integrate the APIs, do that securely, manage the lifecycle – since now your program, your composable services are really the life-cycle management of those APIs. That’s a massive set of things… I’m kind of flying through it… but that’s all about how do you make it easier to do the stitching that, by definition, is what’s going to be required going forward.”
Two Clear Cloud Strategies Emerge
In the final analysis, two distinct camps seem to be evolving (although there are overlaps): in the first camp are Amazon and Google, whose primary objective is to help companies move to the cloud no matter what their size; in the second camp are Microsoft and IBM, who recognize the need for hybrid. Though IBM is the camp leader, as it were, Microsoft has the tools and capability of creating hybrid models for their clients.
What about Oracle? What camp do they fit into? From my understanding of Oracle’s strategy, they want to take Amazon head on in the cloud infrastructure space. There are two reasons why that might actually be viable.
First, they are masters of M&A (mergers and acquisitions), so any gaps they currently have in their stack – compared to Amazon’s – can easily be filled with a few strategic partnerships or acquisitions. Second, most of the world’s biggest companies are already clients of their databases business, and that gives them huge leverage and a distinct advantage over Amazon. As such, Oracle can easily slip into hybrid, on-premise or public cloud mode depending on the client’s specific needs.
Google’s partnership with Intel will go a long way in reducing the distance between these companies and their respective competitors in cloud and data center technology. But they’re have to hit it hard and fast in order to make that happen. Google has three majors sitting above them in the cloud business, and Intel has the daunting NVIDIA to deal with on the data center front.
It’s not going to be an easy ride for either company, but their partnership should make the journey a little smoother and possibly a lot quicker.
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