Google Cloud's Thomas Kurian takes multi-cloud strategy with Anthos


Back at his old company Oracle, the now-Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian butted heads with Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison over a key cloud strategy, Bloomberg previously reported.

Essentially, Kurian wanted Oracle’s software to run on rival clouds like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, while Ellison wanted it to stay locked in to Oracle’s own cloud, the report said. Oracle declined to comment on this story.

But now that Kurian is the new boss of Google Cloud, he seems to be taking the chance to run the playbook that he couldn’t at his previous employer.

The biggest announcement from Google Cloud Next, its annual conference, was Anthos— a software-based cloud platform that lets allows customers to manage their infrastructure across Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and their own data centers. In other words, Google is supporting its rivals in a real way.

“It allows [customers] to secure and manage across multiple clouds in a single, consistent way,” Kurian said onstage on Tuesday.

Read: Google Cloud is beating Amazon to the punch with Anthos, a new hybrid cloud offering

This announcement is a nod from Google that the industry is headed in this direction, says Gartner senior director and analyst Sanjeev Mohan. Although Google Cloud started to take a multiple cloud strategy under previous CEO Diane Greene, Kurian is showing a strong follow-up, Mohan says.

“I really like the openness that they are showing in this,” Mohan told Business Insider. “I think he’s bringing the whole focus on embracing multi-cloud, embracing open source and embracing partners while focused on the end user solutions.”

“How do you convert those leads into dollars?”

According to the RightScale State of the Cloud Report, 84% of companies are taking a strategy of using multiple clouds, suggesting that Google is on the right path here.

But what’s significant about Google Cloud’s new approach is that its product makes it easy for customers to run their software and services across different cloud environments. Normally, it’s tricky and time-consuming for developers to write and deploy these cross-cloud integrations.

With Anthos, though, Google is promising that developers will just have to set up their applications once, and they will work whether it’s running on Google Cloud, an on-premise data center, or another cloud.

“If you’re a developer, you get to avoid the pain of rewriting your code just to deploy to another cloud,” Jennifer Linn, Google’s director of product management for Anthos, said on stage at the Next conference.

Eric Brewer, VP of Infrastructure and fellow at Google, says Google is still an engineering-focused company at heart, which guided the development of Anthos — but acknowledges that this technology could lead into more opportunity for the company. Kurian has said that he plans on growing the company’s sales team rapidly; the rise of Anthos arms those salespeople with a solution to an actual problem that they’re having.

“We have tons of leads,” Brewer told Business Insider. “How do you convert those leads into dollars? That’s where Thomas Kurian has direct experience and credibility…I think we’ve known for a while we need a bigger sales team and more customers support. How do you grow those, and what’s the right rate? As an observer, those are all important.”

It’s not just cloud where Google is extending a friendly hand to other companies. Google Cloud announced partnerships with seven open source software based companies, with a new scheme that includes revenue-sharing and mutual customer support services.

What’s more, Google Cloud is embracing some key Microsoft services. On Wednesday, Google Cloud announced that customers will be able to run two Microsoft services on its cloud: the database server Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Active Directory, which lets helps manage users and devices on a network.

Read:Yet another head of cloud leaves SAP as CEO Bill McDermott pursues the cloud strategy that Oracle refuses to try

Daniel Ives, managing director at Wedbush Securities, says that Google taking a multi-cloud strategy puts it in a good position, but there’s more work to be done to prove that it’s serious about following through.

“I think it’s more emphasis on partnerships and the multi-cloud approach,” Ives told Business Insider. “That continues to be a big focus for Kurian. They need to talk the talk in this industry as they go against enterprise demons. He’s trying to hit a tone. It’s a pivotal time to be successful in this cloud arms race.”

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