Google senior vice president Diane Greene this weekend said she thinks the Google Cloud Platform could surpass market leader Amazon Web Services by 2022. Her remarks came at a Forbes conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
"I think we have a pretty good shot at being number one in five years," Greene said at the event. "I actually think we have a huge advantage in our data centers, in our infrastructure, availability, security, and how we automate things. We just haven't packaged it up perfectly yet."
That's five years to accomplish considerable work. While it's difficult to gauge relative cloud size given all the claims and counterclaims, it's generally accepted that Amazon (amzn) Web Services still leads the pack by a wide margin.
Two years ago, Gartner (it) analysts said AWS ran ten times the cloud computing capacity as the next 12 to 14 cloud providers combined. While Gartner did not break out that estimate again last year, asked if that ratio held true, an analyst said it likely remained the same.
At the same time, everyone expects the competition to get hotter. Microsoft and Google (googl) both have lots of financial resources to spend on the pricey data center infrastructures needed to run those shared servers and storage devices.
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Microsoft is banking that tens of thousands of business customers that already run Windows and Office in-house will naturally gravitate to Azure. Of the big three, Microsoft has the best hybrid cloud story—meaning that companies can keep running some applications on-premises and the rest in Azure data centers run by Microsoft.
Neither AWS or Google have a comparable on-premises story—yet. Still, Google wins high marks even among AWS and Azure fans for its artificial intelligence capabilities and data analytics products, like BigQuery, which let users crunch numbers. Some industry followers say its backing of Kubernetes—an arguably easier way to manage lots of software containers—will help it appeal to more corporate users. Containers are a modern way to package up software so it can run anywhere, in someone else's cloud or in a company's own data center.
"Google has a huge product gaps for enterprise customers that will take two to three years to bridge," says Sateesh Narahari, vice president of products for ManagedMethods, a cloud security company. Google can, he said, fight hard using machine learning and artificial intelligence investments to remain competitive, but AWS won't be sitting idly by during that time.
In addition, the rub on Google is that while it offers some very advanced and useful technology, bit doesn't seem to know how to sell it to outside businesses that don't run at Google's scale.
While people see her as the face of Google's enterprise cloud push, she reminded attendees that she is hardly the only expert there. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman Google parent company Alphabet, has lots of experience building and selling technology to big companies. In former lives Schmidt was an executive at Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle (orcl)) and CEO of Novell, a company that long dominated the market for corporate networking software.
Schmidt, she noted, "is an old enterprise guy."