Last week, Google announced details of Always Free, a free tier of Google Cloud Platform services that allow users to obtain familiarity with the Google Cloud Platform’s suite of offerings. The free tier of services allows users to take advantage of 15 Google Cloud Platform services that include Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine, Google Cloud Datastore, Google Cloud Functions, Google Stackdriver, Google BigQuery Public Datasets and Google Container Engine. In the case of Google Compute Engine, users have access to one 1 f1-micro instance each month, with the additional constraint that they can run a maximum of 8 cores of virtual CPUs concurrently as noted below, by the Google Cloud Platform:
You can have no more than 8 cores (or Virtual CPUs) running at the same time. For example, you can launch eight n1-standard-1 machines, or two n1-standard-4 machines, but you can’t launch a n1-standard-16machine. For more information about the types of virtual machines available and the number of cores they use, see Machine type pricing.
The availability of Google Cloud Platform is limited to U.S. regions and a 30 GB-months HDD and a 5 GB-months snapshot. As part of its Always Free tier, Google also elaborated details of a $300 credit that customers can apply to the usage of Google Cloud Platform products to further augment their ability to experiment with the capabilities of GCP services. The $300 credit applies to all Google Cloud Platform products and spans a duration of 12 months.
Announced by Sam Ramji, VP of Product Development at Google Cloud at the Google Cloud Next conference on Friday March 10, the Always Free Tier and the $300 credit represent an important sales and marketing initiative designed to lure new customers intro trying the features and functionality of the Google Cloud Platform. As enterprises increasingly leverage a multi-cloud strategy characterized by the use of multiple public clouds in an effort to minimize threats posed by vendor lock-in and the effects of cloud outages, Google Cloud Platform’s Always Free tier promises to increase its market share in a field dominated by Amazon Web Services but that additionally includes Microsoft Azure, Oracle and IBM. Meanwhile, Google’s ability to onboard new customers via its Always Free tier raises the obvious question around its ability to retain those customers in collaboration with an aggressive sales and customer satisfaction team capable of eliciting and responding to the needs of its growing customer base.
Google has acquired Qwiklabs, the company behind an educational platform geared toward helping users understand cloud computing and how to write cloud-native applications. Launched in 2012, Qwiklabs has focused on helping users obtain training for Amazon Web Services, but Google plans to adapt it to facilitate the delivery of education related to the Google Cloud Platform and its associated G-Suite of applications. Google’s acquisition of Qwiklabs underscores the heterogeneity of products and services surrounding the cloud computing revolution and illustrates the urgency of the tech industry’s need for quality training and educational products specific to cloud computing and big data. Expect educational platforms related to cloud computing to proliferate as cloud adoption continues to skyrocket and fuel a need for educational materials that can facilitate the training of end users used on the rapidly evolving space of cloud technologies and platforms. Qwiklabs claims that over 500,000 users have received 5 million hours of training on its platform thus far. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Amazon reported earnings per share of 52 cents on Thursday, missing the earnings target of 78 eps predicted by analysts by a margin that, in combination with other data points from the earnings report, subsequently sent the stock plummeting by 5% in trading on Friday. For the quarter ending September 30, 2016, the company reported revenue of $32.71 billion that slightly exceeded Wall Street estimates of $32.69 billion. Meanwhile, Amazon’s revenue guidance for the fourth quarter between $42 billion and $45.5 billion leaned toward the lower side of the spectrum of Wall Street’s expectation of $44.58 billion. To make matters even more worrisome for investors, Amazon projected operating income of between zero and $1.25 billion for the fourth quarter, whereas Wall Street had projected $1.62 billion. On a positive note, the company’s cloud services business unit, Amazon Web Services, claimed revenue of $3.23 billion, an increase of 55% in comparison to the $2.08 billion from the third quarter of last year that surpassed Wall Street’s expectation of $3.17 billion. Amazon explained its less than stellar earnings report by noting its heavy investments in original video content for Amazon Prime as well as fulfillment centers. Nevertheless, Amazon’s earnings per share miss and third quarter results more generally raised eyebrows in both the technology and investor community after a year of impressive growth and the preservation of its lead in the cloud computing space despite intensified competition. Axcient CEO Justin Moore remarked on Amazon’s recent earnings miss as follows:
Despite the Q3 EPS miss, over the longer-term, Amazon will continue to be a dominant force in both e-commerce and enterprise infrastructure – an incredible feat given that the customer sets are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Amazon has been very clear that it will continue to focus on growth and not profitability. Investors have signed up for this approach for years so the blip in the stock will be tempered. Bezos has Amazon ‘primed’ for a dominant push to 2020 – and beyond. AWS and Prime continue to be Amazon’s primary growth and revenue drivers as the Seattle company broadens its lead in online commerce and cloud-computing services. The only real question for Amazon comes down to two factors: 1) its ability to appease investors appetite for ongoing record growth and 2) can it continue to maintain its lead over Microsoft, Google and Oracle who are equally committed to winning the cloud and have the benefit of being second mover which can be a benefit in these situation as infrastructure ages out and size and scale become inhibitors to innovation and performance. Expect to see all leverage M&A to acquire their way to technical leadership and hold an edge over the competition. That said, while there is plenty of startup talent to be bought at a premium, I don’t see Amazon losing this race anytime soon.
Here, Moore opines that Amazon’s ability to manage investor expectations and shake off the “second mover” advantage had by competitors such as Microsoft, Google and Oracle will determine whether it can continue the dominance in “e-commerce and enterprise infrastructure” that it has delivered, to date. Moore also notes that second movers stand to benefit from their ability to outpace the “size and scale” of their competitors with enhanced agility and innovation. Herein lies the stakes of Bezos’s gamble on innovation and investment in Amazon’s infrastructure: if Amazon can, indeed, afford to innovate on the rapidly expanding scale of its business and cloud operations with the agility of its competitors by re-investing resources acquired through its meteoric growth to date, Amazon stands poised to radically reconfigure the technology landscape over the next ten years in ways analogous to the disruption that Amazon Web Services brought to the cloud computing landscape. But in the event that the size and complexity of Amazon’s infrastructure mitigates against its ability to continue to deliver innovation, the chances of competitors such as Oracle and Google catching up to it, at least on the cloud services front, increase dramatically. According to Amazon’s CFO, Brian Olsavsky, Amazon built 18 new fulfillment centers in the third quarter while investing heavily in video content to enable Amazon Prime’s video services offerings to compete with Netflix. With respect to Amazon Web Services, however, one obvious question investors may have following last week’s earnings report concerns how Amazon intends to invest in AWS in response to Google’s rebranding of its cloud-based products and services coupled with Google’s aggressive emphasis on professional services for the enterprise.
Google today announced details of Jamboard, a “cloud-first” approach to the whiteboard marked by a 55 inch, 4 K touchscreen that allows team members to interact with another via an Android or iOS mobile device. Team members can observe “jam sessions” using a laptop or desktop but require mobile apps to contribute directly to the conversation. Users participating in a jam can submit Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and photos as well as add text and create digital sticky notes during the process of interacting with the Jamboard. Intended to spark collaboration and creativity, Google’s Jamboard competes with digital whiteboards such as Microsoft’s Surface Hub and the Hitachi FX-79E1 but differentiates by foregrounding the rebranded G-suite of cloud-based products and services as the foundation for all work. The results of jam sessions are saved to Google Drive to underscore the value of the G-suite for enterprise collaboration and communication.
Google has announced a rebranding and restructuration of select products from its portfolio under the rubric “Google Cloud”. Google Cloud encompasses the Google Cloud Platform, Google’s productivity apps such as Gmail and Google Docs as well as its suite of machine learning tools and mapping applications. All Android devices and Chromebooks are now part of the Google Cloud as well. Importantly, the Google Cloud brand also features services that propel the digital transformation of enterprises by providing consultative and engineering support and professional services to help organizations transform their digital persona in collaboration with Google’s suite of cloud and machine learning products. The restructuration of a multitude of Google’s products under the Google Cloud umbrella, in conjunction with its foregrounding of service offerings geared toward digital transformation, marks a significant first step with respect to Google’s rebranding as a cloud product and service geared toward the digital needs of the contemporary enterprise. With the unveiling of the new Google Cloud brand, Google squarely positions itself as a partner of companies actively engaged in digital transformation and extends the tentacles of its products and services deeper into the enterprise.
On September 8, Google announced its intent to acquire Apigee, a company that specializes in application programming interface (API) management. APIs are used to connect data from different applications, systems and databases to one another, thereby enhancing the ability of applications to share data and collaborate. Walgreens, for example, uses Apigee to empower developers to build apps using Walgreen APIs marked by the ability to use mobile apps to order photographs at the store of their choosing or submit prescription refills. Google’s acquisition of Apigee expands its ability to integrate APIs into the Google Cloud Platform, thereby enabling the Google Cloud Platform to integrate with a greater variety of applications and infrastructures. For starters, Google’s acquisition of Apigee positions the Google Cloud Platform to seamlessly integrate with Apigee’s impressive roster of customers including AT&T, Burberry and First Data, in addition to Walgreens. The acquisition of Apigee underscores Google’s commitment to building a developer-friendly cloud computing platform that empowers developers to create APIs either for new apps or to enrich existing the capability of existing apps. By giving developers freedom with respect to their choice of a development framework, in addition to an API marked by a battle-tested degree of security and stability, Apigee stands to augment the ease with which Google Cloud Platform and its constituent portfolio of products can integrate with the broader app development and infrastructure ecosystem. In a blog post, Diane Greene, the head of Google’s Cloud Business, noted that Google Cloud Platform plans to deepen its integration with Kubernetes in a further indication that Google plans to augment its efforts to court developers by enriching their experience with, and range of options associated with the Google Cloud Platform. Google will acquire Apigee for $625M or $17.40/share.