Screenshot of graphic from a page about Google Cloud databases
Screenshot of graphic from a page about Google Cloud databases

Google Cloud Takes on AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, Snowflake in Databases: 5 Keys to Its Success

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The race is on for technology leadership in the database market, as AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, and Snowflake fight it out in an increasingly crowded field. 

Another leading player, Google Cloud, is showing strong momentum, as evidenced by its 54% revenue increase in Q2 to $4.62 billion. For the full details, see “Google Becomes World’s Hottest Cloud Vendor with Q2 Blowout.”

Google Cloud’s database and analytics technologies are helping to drive that breakneck growth. Andi Gutmans, GM and VP of engineering for databases at Google Cloud, says the cloud database market has reached a “tipping point” as businesses accelerate the transition away from traditional database management systems to a new class of cloud-native platforms. 

Gutmans is not alone in his bullish assessment — Gartner forecasts that 75% of all databases will be in the cloud by the end of next year. But Gutmans, who oversees development of Google Cloud’s Bigtable, Cloud SQL, Spanner, Firestore, and other database technologies, will have considerable influence over what happens next. Gutmans joined Google Cloud last year from AWS.  

>> Listen to the Cloud Database Report Podcast with Andi Gutmans <<

Google Cloud’s database development team has been exceptionally busy. Recent product advances, some of which are in preview mode, include: 

  • Analytics Hub, based on Google Cloud’s BigQuery data warehouse, for improved data sharing across an organization and with partners, with features such as self-service and data exchanges. Equifax is an early adopter. 
  • Datastream, which provides data synchronization and change data capture for database migrations, storage, and applications. Major League Baseball used Datastream to migrate from an Oracle database to Cloud SQL.   
  • Dataplex, an intelligent data fabric for data marts, data warehouses, and data lakes that provides secure access for data science work. Loblaw, a grocery and pharmacy chain, said it is interested in using Dataplex to improve data quality. 

The pace of innovation is sure to continue. Gutmans told me that Google Cloud is focused on three areas in the second half of the year: continued support for database migrations, including “the business model”; new enterprise capabilities in areas such as security, governance, and high availability; and making it easier for developers to build transformative applications. 

As one of the top three cloud providers in the Cloud Wars Top 10, Google Cloud faces intense competition in databases from AWS and Microsoft, as well as from a growing list of other established vendors and startups. But Google Cloud has some advantages — most notably, its breadth of special-purpose databases and wide support for open technologies in a hybrid cloud model. 

It’s vital that Google Cloud differentiate itself in the increasingly crowded database market. Based on my conversation with Gutmans, I see five areas where Google Cloud’s investment in database services could give it an advantage. 

Keys to Google Cloud’s database success
  • Purpose-built modernization. According to Gutmans, organizations are deploying cloud databases in pursuit of digital transformation strategies that provide new customer experiences, business agility, and efficiency. Google Cloud’s special-purpose databases help drive application modernization, and thus transformation, by matching workloads to capabilities and performance. For example, Bigtable is well suited for large scale, low-latency workloads such as personalization and fraud detection, while Spanner excels at data partitioning and distribution via a feature known as sharding. 
  • Low-fuss migration. Google Cloud has introduced new services to facilitate database migrations. Its Database Migration Service (in preview) supports migrations from MySQL or PostgreSQL databases, and soon Microsoft SQL Server, to Google’s Cloud SQL. Gutmans says it’s “super simple” to use. Not all database migrations are fast and easy, but Google Cloud’s tools can expedite the process for many of the most common scenarios. 
  • Integrated data clouds. A data cloud, conceptually at least, is an environment for all of a company’s data and users. Few businesses have all-encompassing data clouds, but Google is positioned to help build them. Gutmans says data clouds can simplify the “plumbing” of data movement through pre-integrated databases and related technologies. That way, for example, an organization’s analytics database, machine learning frameworks, and AI processes can all work seamlessly together, allowing customers to “just deliver business value.” 
  • Enterprise-class capabilities in the cloud. Google Cloud’s database platforms include Bigtable and BigQuery, which are used for heavy duty workloads. One proof point: in total, a whopping 10 exabytes of data run on Bigtable. Gutmans is focused on bolstering Google Cloud’s enterprise capabilities in areas such as security, governance, and high availability. For example, Bigtable recently joined Spanner and Firestore with service-level agreements that provide 99.999% availability. “These things are top of mind,” says Gutmans. 
  • Transformative developer experience. Google Cloud has more than 2.6 million developers certified on its platform, and Gutmans says it is “super critical” to provide a great experience to them. In the second quarter, Google Cloud offered a scaled down instance of its Spanner database for $65 per month, one-tenth the cost of the regular version. That made it easier for developers to get started with Spanner for projects like mobile app development. “We’re going to continue to invest heavily” in the developer experience, says Gutmans. 
Kurian’s cloud playbook

Google Cloud’s emphasis on providing a better developer experience is a page straight from Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s playbook. When I worked at Oracle a few years ago, that is exactly what Kurian did to drive adoption of Oracle Cloud among developers. 

Will Gutmans be successful in driving increased adoption of Google Cloud’s database technologies? Momentum is working in his favor, as evidenced by the company’s impressive Q2 growth rate.

For more on what’s next for Google Cloud in the fast-moving database market, listen to the Cloud Database Report Podcast with Andi Gutmans on Cloud Wars.

This news analysis is provided by the Cloud Database Report. As the pace of change in data management accelerates, business and IT decision makers are keenly aware that “big data” represents tremendous value if they are able to capitalize on it. Cloud databases are increasingly perceived as a faster, better, cheaper way to gain insights and drive innovation.

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