Today is a big day for what very well could be the next big business at Google: Enterprise cloud storage.
In San Francisco, the company is holding its first cloud user conference, a perch to show off its product and win more paying customers. Keynotes will come from new enterprise boss Diane Greene and Urs Hölzle, its veteran infrastructure honcho. Also on the slate is Nicholas Harteau, the engineering boss at Spotify, a recent Google customer. He will probably dote on the value of Google’s cloud.
That accolade — proof that Google can serve a decent-sized enterprise — is a key part of the search giant’s pitch as it catches up to Amazon and Microsoft, which are ahead in the gainful cloud market. Another part is how well Google has done serving itself.
“The wonderful thing is that Google, for 18 years, since it’s been founded, has been in the cloud. It has focused on its extremely large customers — search, ads, YouTube,” Greene told Re/code in January for an interview about Google’s enterprise business. “Much of what we’re working on is moving these over for the public.”
Greene has a two-fold challenge: Steering the enterprise market toward Google and steering Google, a company historically wary of selling to businesses, toward enterprise. Internally, she has an edict to do both. She’s amassed considerable influence inside the company in a short amount of time. She’s hiring prolifically. And her agenda includes potential, financially consequential acquisitions.
Her division has room to grow. Google had just four percent of the cloud services market last year, behind Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM, according to estimates from Synergy Research Group.
One of Greene’s first acts at Google, she told us, was visiting its notoriously large data centers. On Tuesday, Google announced it would be adding another twelve more of these in the next 18 months.
“On the really hard stuff, like efficient, scalable technologies and data centers and premium data centers, I think Google is leading,” she said in January. “And I think we’re able to offer the best price performance already, which is a really great thing for customers and partners.”
Another telling emphasis for Google comes from the final keynote speaker. That’s Jeff Dean, the revered researcher within Google’s mercenary machine learning division. Under CEO Sundar Pichai, Google is prioritizing the data processing technique across all of its products; it is, for Google, the primary ingredient in its competitive moat.
So machine learning would naturally be a big part of Google’s cloud strategy. The company has deployed the tools to improve the energy efficiency of its data centers. It’s likely Dean will detail the ways machine learning smarts can make Google’s cloud do things better than others. But it’s tough to tell, for now, if those smarts are enough of a selling point, or just good for Google.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.