I get asked this question a lot, in a competitive and fast moving cloud world. Some of what I share below are my own views, some is what I hear from customers, some is from other market sources (analysts, Twitter, investors, etc). Obviously, I’d like to hear from LinkedIn too, 😉 Perhaps I should write “Agree??” at the end, which always seems to get engagement…
Upfront note on bias: I work at a Google Cloud partner, albeit I’m trying to be fair as I write this.
I’ll also say that I firmly believe that cloud is not a zero sum game, and that in Western markets we’ll have three large and successful cloud vendors who will continue to grow and dominate over the coming decade. Hint: none of those three is Oracle or IBM.
Final note: We can debate the merits, or otherwise, of multi-cloud another time. For many larger companies it’s an inescapable reality, even if perhaps not the desired “easy life” choice.
Come on then, why would I choose Google?
I’ll open with a point not linked to technology, but with a looming climate disaster sloooowly starting to become something that businesses care about and – crucially – factor into their purchasing decisions, Google is the best positioned here. There’s a lot of greenwashing in the market of course, and all big vendors are evolving, but Google is unquestionably leading the space in my view with the boldest commitments, the best track record, and the biggest investment in new technologies and ways of working. Take a read here, if interested in more detail, but the “carbon free by 2030” pledge is something we need to see from many more companies.
Microsoft have also taken a strong stance of late here, and I’d expect under Satya that this will continue.
There are different views on this, but it’s hard to argue with the likes of RedMonk who’ve identified this as a core strength of GCP – and an attack point against AWS. Amazon’s almost mythical ‘two pizza teams’ do create an astonishing release frequency that hasn’t slowed down even as the company has grown revenues significantly. But can also create a disjointed experience, reminiscent of a ‘bag of spanners’ with uniformity in style, interface, etc sacrificed in favour of time to market. Now, AWS has many more users of their platform, which helps in terms of documentation if you need to find something on Stackoverflow, etc, but Google’s UI and APIs are generally a more pleasant place to be.
Azure is perhaps somewhere in between – often favoured by those of a heavy Microsoft background due to its familiar look and feel – and ease of integration with existing interfaces that a Microsoft heavy team will know and love, especially those preferring a GUI.
Strength in Data.
You were expecting this one first, right? Not sure if there’s anyone on the planet who doesn’t recognise Google’s leadership here. By “data”, I don’t just mean the ease, speed and price of BigQuery, but surrounding ML services that are easy to use, deploy and scale. Equally, I’d call out Spanner as an incredible offering from a distributed technology perspective – who else has the high quality global infrastructure to deliver this globally consistent, atomic clock driven, system? (P.S. Did you see the significant price cut this week?)
It would be hard to say anyone does ‘data’ better than Google, and it’s often their entry point into an organisation with GCP.
Worth noting that all the main vendors have a credible offering here, of course.
The most open cloud.
Under Thomas Kurian, Google has embraced that they aren’t the leader in terms of cloud market share. As part of their aggressive enterprise growth strategy, Google are working hard on technology solutions that make hybrid (multi) cloud work well at scale. I’ve written before on this topic – e.g. around Anthos – but ever evolving solutions like BigQuery Omni and Google’s gigantic commitments to opensource show they mean business here. That opensource point is worth highlighting with very familiar names like Android, Go, Kubernetes, Chromium, Tensorflow, etc. It resonates well in a world where trust in big corporations is often low. Perhaps ask MongoDB which big vendor they prefer to interact with.
Easy to undersell this one, but I think it’s a big part of why many organisations look to Google – that they want to be “like” Google in how they approach problems, collaborate and move fast. Things like Workspace play well here of course, but also visions of creating ‘Star Wars’ style tech solutions to solve complex problems in a modern environment, whilst employing the best talent. I think this is part of the dream that companies like Deutsche Bank have been buying into.
They’re not competing with your business.
Genuinely, this is a point that comes up a lot. It mainly applies to Amazon, and it’s mainly around retail/eCommerce – plus some parts of the financial services industry. Amazon themselves would argue that the likes of Netflix haven’t done too badly on their platform, which of course competes with Prime, but there are more organisations than you might think that raise this point.
Microsoft is generally in a good spot here also as a pure technology company.
There are of course other factors that play into it – Googlers might cite things like prices that automatically reduce the more you use the service, or industry ‘vertical’ aligned solutions, or even Google’s leading K8s offering, but I suspect they’re often not the major drivers.
But why wouldn’t you choose Google?
I said I’d try and be fair, so I’ll try to do just that here.
Not the market leader.
It’s fair to say you won’t ‘get fired for choosing AWS’, and this shouldn’t be underestimated as a major reason for people choosing any platform really. Why does Salesforce get so much business? Partly it’s a good product, but partly it’s the market leader and everyone knows that. Easy choice. (We use it).
AWS is both very large (north of $13Bn of revenues per quarter) and very profitable – contributing a significant billion dollar sum back to the group each quarter. Kudos to Amazon for their early leadership here and continued execution. Azure is also larger in revenue terms than GCP and is definitely profitable – although direct comparisons are a bit more tricky as Microsoft includes other software items, not just those akin to Workspace, in their numbers.
Being the largest in a market does also bring with it other related benefits, such as service maturity and breadth of customer feedback being received – which AWS are good at acting on, definitely. There’s also more AWS-experienced talent in the market – although it’s pretty easy to convert across to GCP, and there are plenty of guides on this.
However, I do think the market leader position is the biggest factor against Google at this point – even with their *very* fast growth. There aren’t many $4Bn/quarter businesses growing close to 50% YoY.
AWS ‘got here first’.
I hear this a lot when talking to our existing clients, mainly people who’ve been Workspace clients for years, and we’re talking to them now about GCP. In some cases, they started their journey back in 2014 when AWS was really the main credible option for IaaS. Unpicking all the time spent learning cloud skills in AWS and building complex systems is a challenging ask, and often there’s not a compelling business reason to do so.
Microsoft were a bit earlier to market also with Azure (but not that much), although our typical client base is more aligned to Google so we see relatively little Azure footprint.
Google might ‘end of life’ the service.
We do it hear it sometimes, although almost never from any decision makers, more from influencers in the tech community. In reality, this is not going to happen and I usually reply with a John McEnroe quote about how serious they are…. Whilst it’s entirely possible for small and underused consumer facing services, it’s not for enterprise offerings that Google is betting its future on, and investing billions per quarter. Whilst it’s a fun jibe, it’s not grounded in reality. I suspect in fact many people are jealous of how Google do manage to stop services which aren’t of a net benefit to their business, when their own companies often do the opposite and double down on things that will never work.
Google aren’t ready to sell to the Enterprise.
Again, I’d argue this isn’t grounded in reality – at least not in 2021. I’d suggest it was some time back in the pre-Kurian years, and it takes time to shake this reputation off. Nowadays, I see Google putting together advanced and compelling commercial deals – and you can see that in the client names they’re quoting in their annual reports, and the sheer volume of sales folks they’re hiring.
Microsoft tend to score highly here in terms of market perception, with many decades of enterprise selling behind them – and AWS have learned rapidly in recent years in this space, and undeniably do a good job.