In September, Google announced that it was rebranding its cloud business geared towards enterprises, which is now known simply as Google Cloud. The company also renamed Google Apps for Work as G Suite, which includes Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, etc. More importantly, Google announced it will be bringing a data cloud region to Mumbai in 2017.
Google says it has over 2 million paid users globally on G Suite and is planning to make significant investments in its cloud enterprise business in India. Google’s Rick Harshman, who is the Managing Director for Google Cloud Platform in JAPAC (Japan and Asia Pacific Region), spoke to the IndianExpress.com about the future of cloud and the upcoming data region in Mumbai. Here are edited excerpts of the interaction.
On where the Google Cloud business stands, investments done so far
“Google has always been a cloud-level company, before cloud was a common word. We have seven consumer-based services that have a billion-plus users, the eighth is actually Google Cloud platform where we have over a billion people end users running applications, workloads on our platform.
We’ve got well over 2 million paid users now globally on G Suite, many of them are here in India. G Suite has I think a very good recall in the market, especially here in India.
The investments that we are making in cloud really falls under the following camps. One is infrastructure. In the last year alone we have invested $9.9 billion in our infrastructure and a lot of that has been in Asia. We just launched our second region in Asia which is in Japan, that was in November. We also pre-announced an additional three regions, one of which will be here in Mumbai. That will be important because there are millions of businesses here… that have a requirement for local infrastructure.”
Cloud region in Mumbai and how it works
“A region is in a geographic location and it is made up of multiple zones. In India, we pre-announced there will three zones consisting multiple data-centres. You have to have multiple data centres if you want to create highly available, fall-tolerant applications. That’s a huge differentiator vis-a-vis running the infrastructure in a premise facility. If you have some type of incident whether it is a flood or a power disconnection, or whatever else, then you will end up being offline. So you have to have multiple locations, that’s what we mean by region and then zones.
Mumbai will be the region, and there will be three zones. That’s not necessarily meaning though they there will three data centres. It could be more than that. It’s already being worked on and the zones will go live sometime in 2017.”
Google’s investment in training people for cloud business
“India’s been one of fastest growing markets. On the cloud side, we have clients like InShorts, DBCorp to a division of Mahindra. We’re continuing to see a wide-range of adoption. That’s also another investment we are making is ground training; so in September we announced our training and certification program.
So if you think about upscaling in a market like India, what are the skills that people need as they evolve into their careers. I think it’s not too big a statement to say that cloud will be front and centre, and for people to have those cloud-specific skills… is going to be important. For you to be able to have certifications around Google Cloud is also going to be a differentiator. We will be providing Google-led training and will work with Indian partners to provide training. We have a pretty large goal on the number of people that we look to train and enable over the next few years.”
On Google’s machine-learning APIs for Cloud segment
“When you think of our machine learning capabilities; in our case it is already a restful API and we’ve already created the model. So if you (as a business) want to take advantage of the speech API or the vision API or natural language or translate, all of those are already pre-built. Now if you have your own machine learning staff on site, you can use your own data, you can create your own models using the technology that we developed called TensorFlow.
So you have two options: You can use the managed machine-learning services or you can create your own model with TensorFlow. That ecosystem, that flexibility is something that we’re hearing is what customers want.
On the key differentiator for Google Cloud
“We are making a lot of investments to bring engineering-to-engineering relationships with companies, which I think is a big differentiator. We also launched in September something called the Advanced Solution Lab. If you’re a company and this is specific to machine learning; if you have identified business problems that you’re trying to solve, and you believe that machine learning can help address those business problems, we’ll work with you, with Google engineers.
Come to Mountain View if you’re a company, you can dedicate whatever pre-determined amount of time, you can send your team and your team will work with Google engineers to address those specific business problems.”
On challenges to the Cloud business and future growth
“Cloud is so nascent here, but it is growing extremely fast. Cloud adoption is just 5 per cent of IT spend across the board globally. If you believe analysts, by 2020, public cloud will be 85 to 100 billion dollars globally. In India public cloud is expected to grow by 30 per cent. So there’s fast growing market.
If you are medium-sized or a large enterprise in India, you will be running thousands of applications. Companies want to have options in cloud, they are already thinking about how do I have a multi-cloud strategy; it’s not am I going to go cloud, it’s how am I going to go cloud and who are the partners I want to work with. I think Google will be one of those, but I’m not naive enough to think we’ll be the only ones available.”