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Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

How Google Cloud became enterprise-ready

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: an examination of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s approach toward making Google into an enterprise player, why Microsoft plays a unique role in the global cybersecurity market, and this week in enterprise tech moves.

Redefining the meaning of 'Googly'

Thomas Kurian’s 22 years of experience at Oracle might have been just what Google Cloud needed.

Kurian, who last served as Oracle’s product development president, perhaps didn’t fit the Googler profile when he became CEO of Google Cloud, the No. 3 cloud provider, in 2019. But his top-to-bottom overhaul of Alphabet’s cloud division has injected it with discipline and focus, and it’s landed it some much-needed enterprise cred.

  • Kurian set Google Cloud’s open hybrid and multicloud focus on infrastructure, data analytics, cybersecurity, collaboration and communication and industry-specific products and services.
  • Major corporations including Deutsche Bank, Ford Motor Company, Mayo Clinic, Univision and the U.S. Air Force have signed on as customers with Google Cloud since Kurian came onboard.
  • That customer buy-in is the best validation of Google Cloud’s newfound enterprise-readiness, Kurian told me during a recent interview.
  • “We've really, really transformed, and most of our largest customers have been super successful in adopting and using cloud through the work they've done with us,” he said.

Kurian’s reshaping of Google Cloud touched most aspects of the business.

  • He brought on new senior leadership, tripled the salesforce, sharpened the product focus, put new systems in place to handle enterprise customers and scaled Google Cloud’s global footprint.
  • “We had to build many functions that did not really exist before — whether that's a commercial legal team to negotiate contracts, a sales organization, customer service, etc.,” Kurian said.
  • Kurian also tackled the thorny issue of Google Cloud’s engineering culture. “We needed to add to it this focus on the customer and make a lot of our innovation be customer-driven,” he said.

The work is paying off for Google Cloud, whose annual revenue — which includes GCP and Google Workspace — has climbed approximately 230% under Kurian to $19.2 billion in 2021.

  • “We certainly view GCP as an enterprise-ready marketplace in cloud, or we would never be in the process of moving our workloads,” said Keith Silvestri, chief technology officer at KeyBank. “From a maturity perspective, from production support, from the investments they make in security, through how they're organized, absolutely.”
  • Although Google Cloud continues to operate at a loss – $931 million as of the end of March — parent company Alphabet has said it’s taking a long-term view with its cloud business.
  • Google Cloud’s biggest challenge now is expanding globally, according to Kurian.
  • “We want to expand to more countries, to more industries, and there's a lot of work going on to expand both our data center footprint around the world, as well as our sales, distribution and service organizations around the world,” he said.

Read our full report on Kurian’s turnaround of Google Cloud here.

— Donna Goodison (email | twitter)

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Tracking the cyber-spies

The disclosure this week that Russia has boosted its cyber-espionage against governments supportive of Ukraine is a big deal — not just because of the threat it points to, but also because of who disclosed it.

Microsoft released a report Wednesday saying it has tracked 128 network intrusions by Russia in total since the invasion of Ukraine — mainly against government agencies (49%) but also including IT enterprises (20%), critical infrastructure organizations (19%) and NGOs (12%). The U.S. has been the largest target of the Russian spying efforts, but 42 countries in all have been targeted, according to the company.

The disclosure is a reminder that while headline-grabbing cyber-retaliation by Russia has yet to manifest, that doesn't mean nothing is happening. Microsoft said that 29% of the Russian attacks it tracked were successful, and in a quarter of those breaches, Russia did manage to exfiltrate data.

The report also showcases the unique role that Microsoft — a cybersecurity powerhouse that has a view into customers around the globe — has assumed for itself, said Justin Fier, vice president of Tactical Risk and Response at Darktrace.

"We now have a big private sector organization that's putting out intel, or claims of espionage, that would typically come from the U.S. government itself," Fier said. If such information came out at all: "Espionage has typically not been something that you discuss out in the open," he noted.

But as defenders seek to weigh the cyberthreat level from Russia, such information is a major asset, Fier said. Microsoft has data that “probably some governments don't even have access to,” he said. "My hat's off to them for doing that.”


— Kyle Alspach (email | twitter)

Enterprise moves

Over the past week AMD, Microsoft and Google Cloud added new execs, a former Segment leader joined the VC world and more.

Mathew Hein was named chief strategy officer at AMD. Hein was previously at investment banking firm DBO Partners.

Shawn Bice joined Microsoft as corporate vice president of Cloud Security. Bice was formerly president of Products and Technology at Splunk and VP of Databases for AWS.

Stephen Orban is joining Google Cloud to develop strategies and programs for customers migrating to the provider. Orban was previously a VP at AWS, where he led the marketplace and ISV business.

Joe Morrissey joined a16z as general partner. Morrisey was previously chief revenue officer at Segment.

Asad Siddiqui joined Celigo as CIO. Siddiqui was formerly VP and global head of Enterprise Technology at Asana.

Rob Fletcher joined Paddle as chief customer officer. Fletcher was previously VP and general manager of Customer Outcomes for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at ServiceNow.

Astha Malik joined Braze as CMO. Malik was formerly the COO at VTEX and the global VP of strategy, planning and enablement at Zendesk.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Intel said it would delay the ground-breaking ceremony for its Ohio chipmaking campus because Congress has yet to pass the $52 billion Chips Act, a pretty transparent and laughably unrealistic threat to take its ball and go home.

The Broadcom-VMware deal may not be finalized until next year — if at all — now that European regulators plan to conduct a more extensive investigation than anticipated, according to the Financial Times.

Chinese chip designers might consider forking the RISC-V open-source standard to get around any future sanctions on chipmaking equipment and technology.

AWS announced CodeWhisperer, an AI-powered code-writing tool that sounds very similar to GitHub Copilot, which became generally available this week.

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