Laid Back Google Gives Way to Aggressive Alphabet in Cloud Computing

Alphabet rallies behind Google Cloud strategy

To say that 2016 set the tone for the cloud computing industry would be an understatement. Any growth in 2017 – and we’re going to see a lot of it – will be solely the result of decisions made in 2016 and, to a lesser extent, 2015. But for Google, now a member of the Alphabet family, it was a year of being shaken up by the reality of what was going on around them.

Right through 2016, Alphabet watched as competitors sped past them to the $10 billion-a-year mark in annual cloud revenue run rates. IBM broke records, AWS saw stellar quarters and Microsoft kept delivering triple-digit growth numbers almost consistently. Even Oracle piped up prematurely and flat out challenged segment leader AWS to a duel.

But Alphabet is real dark horse in the picture. Years of hands-on experience with cloud environments, but no real cloud business to speak of. That’s where the ad-revenue-heavy technology company stood at the end of 2015, the only saving grace being the appointment of Diane Greene as head of their cloud business.

Alphabet and the Datacenter Dazzle

Much has been done in the year just passed, and Alphabet was apparently well prepared for the three-day Google Cloud Next conference held between March 10 and March 12. They quickly shot off a salvo of new features, increased capabilities and a shocker of an investment announcement in datacenters.

The shocker came early on, with Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt unveiling Google’s plans for datacenter expansion. Schmidt raised a lot of eyebrows when he told the crowd that the company had invested $30 billion in datacenters.

It’s not really a surprise when you consider the position they’re in. As the world’s number one search engine company, Google’s own requirement for infrastructure is an ever-expanding one; now, with their Cloud platform in the mix, their investment is only going to keep trudging northward.

Urs Hölzle, Google senior vice president for technical infrastructure, made the announcement that Google will be adding three more regions to Google Cloud Platform. The new datacenters, to be located in the Netherlands, Canada and California, are expected to be operational by the end of 2018, taking the Google Cloud datacenter footprint to 17 regions.

Cloud Pricing Made More Competitive

If you’re a cloud customer, you will undoubtedly have seen price cuts coming your way. All the top providers are now in “price war mode” in a bid to attract more customers into their fold.

Google made a huge splash during the event, knocking off 57% costs for users who are ready for a one- or three-year commitment. The committed-use discounts are based on the amount of CPU and RAM purchased.

Google Compute Engine prices came down by between 4.9% and 8%, depending on the region. Google also took a page out of Amazon’s book and made its free tier available for 12 months instead of the the previous 60 days. The only problem is, the free $300 worth of credit stays the same; customers merely have more time in which to use it up. You can review the terms of Google Cloud’s free tier here

In comparison, Amazon’s free tier program offers a pre-defined limit for each service over a 12-month period, allowing users to test as many services as possible.

The G Suite Clean Up

G Suite also went through a transformation, while Hangouts received a new identity as a serious player in the enterprise collaboration SaaS market. We’ve covered the several new additions and changes to G Suite in earlier articles – here. Suffice it to say that Google is leaving no stone unturned in its pursuit of SaaS market share in this tough segment where it once held third position in its earlier avatar of Google Apps for Work.

Tiered-Role based Engineering Support Program

The new support plans charge customers based on the number of users, instead of a variable percentage of total spend on the platform. According to Google, the flat per-user-per-month charges make support costs more transparent and predictable to its users. Check Google Cloud Support program details can be found here.

The sheer number of initiatives that have come tumbling out of Alphabet’s highly talented cloud teams is an extremely positive sign. It’s almost reminiscent of Amazon, which has committed to launching 1000 new services this year. Almost.

Alphabet has a long way to go before it can be compared with Amazon Web Services in the cloud infrastructure space. Google or IBM were the rightful heirs to first place in cloud computing, but Bezos, Jassy and a crack team of cloud experts ended up showing them the way.

Though we’ve said in the past that Google was late to the cloud race, it’s renewed vigor as Alphabet is evidence that things are finally taking shape and solidifying within one of the most highly valued companies in the world.

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