Google may not have caught up to Amazon in the cloud market, but that's OK, according to a Google executive. The company is heading in a slightly different direction with cloud computing that involves helping customers analyze their data.
"It's not about catching up to [Amazon]," said Brian Stevens, vice president of cloud platform at Google. "It's not just about lifting and shifting servers and such. It's not about doing exactly the same thing you've been doing. It's about doing things in a new cloud way."
That could change the way companies do business. It also could help Google become a cloud powerhouse.
Stevens, who spoke with Computerworld during Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference, said he wants the company's cloud offering to do more than simply enable enterprises to stop buying their own servers. It also should be about more than having someone else worry about storing data and maintaining hardware.
By using the cloud, he said, companies should be able to get more information out of their data.
"It comes down to data analytics," Stevens said. "Companies need to better understand their users. What do they want? What do they like? Once a company knows that, they can build campaigns around that."
Once an enterprise realizes that cloud computing can put its data to use, that's a game changer.
"If they choose to analyze their data, then they are overwhelmed and excited by the amount of analysis they can get out of their data," Steven said. "They first think they're just moving their Web presence and a few servers on the cloud, and then they realize they can integrate big data analytics."
Enabling customers to make sense of massive loads of data is what could set Google apart, the company contends.
"This strategy allows Google to have offerings that are different from what Amazon, and most other cloud providers, are pushing," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "If Google has analytic tools that are easy to use and useful to customers, then Google will have a real advantage over the rest of the pack."
It's not surprising that Google is focused on enabling cloud customers to analyze their data. Google needs to find a way to differentiate itself from AWS, which dominates the cloud market, and data analysis is at the core of the way Google generates revenue.
Google's business strategy is to analyze its user base so it can target ads to consumers or help their customers do that.
"Being able to do this is a significant strong point for Google, and using these capabilities to give them a leg up in the cloud market is the right thing to do," Olds said. "Think of it this way: Amazon is mostly giving people the machines to do what they want to in the cloud. Google is looking to give people the entire toolset to do what they want -- hardware, software and analytics."
It's not that AWS users can't do analytics on their own data. It's that Google is making analytics a focal point of its cloud strategy.
"When you ask companies what they want [to do in the cloud], they usually start with workload and scalability," Stevens said. "Then they realize they can take historical data and experiment with new models of analyzing that data. There's no end to the experimentation of what they can do with all this data. It's not just about cost of servers but adopting new models and that let's them change their business."
By using the cloud, companies may gain access to data they didn't know they had. That knowledge could change what products and services companies offer to customers, as well as how they offer them.