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Google Cloud Exec: Many Companies Interested in Moving to the Cloud, But It’s Still Early Days

Alphabet is seeing a growing number of companies looking to shift to cloud storage of their data, but we’re still in the very early days of companies across all industries actually shifting to the cloud, according to Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud at Alphabet.

A growing number of the company’s customers are saying ‘We just want to move everything to the cloud,’ she said Feb. 14 at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. The number is “astounding,” she said, adding “I actually didn’t expect that so soon.”

One explanation is that people are realizing their data will be more secure when stored in the cloud, she said. Moving all that data to the cloud, however, takes a lot of training and certification for customers and partners, she said. Although “the cloud is on everybody’s mind,” she later pointed out that while “a lot of companies are dabbling in” the cloud, “we are just at the very early stages of people really moving” all their data there.

As part of the company’s data management solutions, Alphabet just introduced the first “worldwide distributed transaction platform,” Spanner, she told the conference, saying the platform keeps “transactions in order” when they are “spread across data centers.” Spanner provides users with better availability to and scalability of their data, she said.

Alphabet had already been using Spanner internally, but it’s only now expanded the platform’s availability to other organizations as another cloud computing service.
“Everybody is just seeing an amazing increase in the amount of data they’re getting” due to the large number of devices that people are using, Greene told the conference.

Therefore, “Spanner’s coming at a time that it’s going to have really high value to the enterprise” sector, she said.

Earlier in the day at the conference, Julia White, corporate VP for Microsoft Azure cloud marketing, said there’s a been growth in the number of conversations and planning around the cloud. But she said: “I don’t think we’ve hit mainstream in actual cloud adoption from an infrastructure and platform perspective.” It would be nice if cloud adoption started moving faster, she conceded, but stressed that we shouldn’t expect a drastic shift to happen overnight

Alphabet has “ramped up our engineering investment across the board, but really the heavy lifting in the past 16 months has been around how we go meet our customers in the market,” Greene also told the conference.

The company is, meanwhile, “democratizing” machine learning, so “every company anywhere can use it,” she said, telling the conference: “A company that isn’t using machine learning is … already at a disadvantage.”

“At the end of the day, everybody is going to use machine learning,” she predicted, noting it is “quite a hot market” now. Some Google Cloud customers are using it already, she said, citing Airbus as one example. That company has used machine learning for processing satellite images and it saved Airbus a lot of money, she said. Alphabet is able to be competitive in machine learning because of its large research program that will “keep us out ahead,” she went on to say.

Also at the conference Feb. 14, Apple CFO Luca Maestri said the company’s service business is “doing very well and we’ve been growing it for several quarters now” at a rate of about 20%. He said the Apple App Store is “doing incredibly well,” adding: “The quality and the quantity of content continues to improve all the time.”

On the music front, he said: “I think it’s important to keep in mind we are by far the largest player in digital music. When you combine our download model with our streaming service, which comes from the Beats acquisition and is getting a lot of traction — the combination of these two businesses – we’re clearly … number one in music. We’ve got a long association with music. It’s one of the most important use cases for customers on our devices. And so we really want to provide the best possible offering on the music side and we think we’re actually doing that.”

Apple continues to come out on top when it comes to music service satisfaction surveys and the company also keeps improving the service from a user interface standpoint, he said. Apple has learned from the music business that what it offers in terms of exclusive content does “make a difference” in transactions and conversion rates from free trials to paid memberships, he said.

Video is a large business for Apple today because it’s a very large distributor of video content, he went on to say. But when it comes to original video content, Apple lags behind rivals including Netflix and Amazon. “Obviously it’s something that we’re looking into,” he said of original video content. For now, “it’s a matter of experimenting a bit” with the creation of TV shows and see how Apple does with its initial programs, he said.