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Google Is Attacking Enterprise from Every Angle

May 18, 2016, 10:57 PM UTC
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Google’s plans to be a big business technology giant involves everything from spreadsheets and laptops to data centers and computer chips. On Wednesday, the search giant revealed several new business-oriented technologies that it hopes will give it credibility with potential customers.

“We are serious about the enterprise,” said Google’s (GOOG) top cloud computing executive Diane Greene, as if to prove to naysayers that the search giant is a viable competitor to enterprise stalwarts like IBM (IBM) or Microsoft (MSFT).

Greene spoke at a press event during Google’s annual developer conference in Mountain View during which several Google executives explained the company’s work in various business technologies.

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For example, Google said it had developed it’s own custom microchip tailored for software services that are powered by machine-learning algorithms. Software services powered by machine learning can absorb and learn from large quantities of data in order to make decisions and operate more efficiently.

Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, said that the new microchip, called the Tensor Processing Unit, is built to handle a variety of machine learning tasks, but is not intended to replace more conventional computer chips like CPUs and GPUs. Instead, he said that the new chip, in conjunction with other chips, can be used for very specific kinds of machine learning techniques, although he didn’t elaborate further.

The new microchip is currently used to power Google’s voice recognition service for Android phones, Hölzle explained. The microchip is housed in a container that resembles a conventional hard drive device and can be plugged into Google’s data center racks whenever the company wants to get a boost of machine learning power.

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The microchip is built to work with Google’s recently released free TensorFlow software that Google said coders can use to build and imbue apps with machine learning capabilities, potentially giving coders the ability to create powerful software like Google’s image recognition services.

Google also said that it released several new so-called application program interfaces that give companies the ability to more easily sync data from other companies’ services like Salesforce (CRM) into Google’s own Slides presentation software. Developers can also use a new so-called Classroom API to create education software for teachers and students.

Hölzle also discussed a new update to Google’s Firebase service that developers can use to build mobile apps and better manage their apps’ data. He explained that the update allows coders to take advantage of Google’s cloud data analytics services better.

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Google executives also bragged about their recently released Chromebook laptop, built with the help of HP. The company did not give an update on sales of the device, but only to say that both businesses and government agencies seem to be interested. Hölzle boasted that the Chromebooks are “probably the most secure” laptops on the market.

With all of the announcements, it’s clear Google is trying to win businesses over from every angle.

The company’s cloud computing business is still behind technology giants like Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft, according to analysts. But Greene said cloud computing is “the biggest revolution in my lifetime,” and presents Google with an opportunity to capitalize in a trillion dollar IT industry.

“We’re going to be able support a huge portion of the IT industry with Google cloud,” Greene said.

Still, it’s easier said than done. Although Google has the technical chops, it doesn’t have the sales expertise in selling to corporate clients the way companies like IBM or Microsoft have.

That’s partly why Google hired Greene, a Silicon Valley veteran who co-founded the business technology company VMware (VMW). With Greene on board, Google is hoping that its technology in conjunction with a recognized business leader can make it a true enterprise competitor.

Time will tell.