What Google’s Deal With Marketo Means for Its Cloud Wars With Amazon and Microsoft

August 24, 2017, 4:47 PM UTC

Google Cloud has a substantial new business customer. Marketo, which sells business software used by corporate marketing professionals to target and reach prospective buyers, is moving from its own data centers to Google’s cloud.

Marketo CEO Steve Lucas tells Fortune that engineers from both companies are working on the project, with new customers expected to move to Google’s infrastructure starting in the first quarter of 2018. Existing customers will be migrated later in the first half of the year. Google (GOOG) announced the news in a blog post on Thursday.

This is a key symbolic win for the search giant as it hopes to show that Google Cloud, which claims such consumer-focused customers as Snap Inc (SNAP), can also be home to more mainstream (and typically older) businesses.

As for why Marketo chose Google over Amazon (AMZN) or Microsoft (MSFT) clouds, Lucas made it sound like a no brainer: “There is a very obvious affinity between Google and marketers. Google is one of the top three to five companies for chief marketing officers, full stop.”

Marketo, he says, is in the top ten, and that’s powerful combination for professional marketers who pay close attention to Google’s advertising and Internet search businesses and related technologies. Google’s much-vaunted AI capabilities, combined with Marketo’s software, could help marketers automate the creation of campaigns in a very efficient and accurate way.

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What this move also means is that Marketo customers—like GE Healthcare (GE), Panasonic, and CA Technologies—will still use Marketo software, but it will be running from Google cloud data centers. Ideally, the transition will go unnoticed by them.

Lucas says most of the 10 to 20 petabytes of data will be moved over the Google network, although there may also be some use of secure shipment of physical disks. “It won’t exactly be like transferring a donor organ, but it will be close,” he explains. (For a point of reference, one petabyte of storage is roughly equivalent to 240,000 DVDs.)

Over the past year, a raft of major business software providers including companies like Salesforce have moved all or some of their technology from their own data centers to a public cloud. Most selected either industry leader Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, which ranks second in the public cloud market.

Marketo and Google will also work to integrate Google Apps with Marketo’s marketing software. Thus, this is a sort of two-pronged attack on Microsoft’s (MSFT) cloud and desktop application business.

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