By Prarthana Mitra
Former Oracle executive Thomas Kurian will replace Diane Greene as the new CEO of Google Cloud starting January 2019. In a blog post on Friday, Greene said that Kurian will join on November 26 and eventually head Google’s cloud division which now has Fortune 1000 enterprises as its customers.
“We’ve built a strong business together — set up by integrating sales, marketing, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Google Apps/G Suite into what is now called Google Cloud,” she noted, harkening back to a time when Google Cloud had only two significant customers and a bunch of start-ups under its belt.
“I believe that he’ll do an amazing job helping to take Google Cloud to the next level. Thomas has 22 years of experience at Oracle; most recently he was President of Product Development,” Greene said of the technologist who hails from Bengaluru, adding that they will work in close association for the next two months to ensure a smooth transition.
Kurian and the cultural clash ahead
Over his 13 years at Oracle, Kurian played an instrumental role in the introduction of its leading suite of Cloud Services, led 60 software acquisitions and Oracle’s 45 Cloud data centres, besides heading a 35,000-people software development team across 32 countries.
With cloud business becoming increasingly more competitive and dynamic, Kurian recently had fundamental disagreements with Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison over the future course of the company, following which he went on an extended leave and ultimately resigned in September. Kurian was interviewed soon after, by both Greene and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Under Greene, the Google Cloud Platform focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning. However, Google’s prioritisation of innovation over storage and website hosting, that form the bulk of cloud market, has been pointed out by several analysts in the past. The company has struggled notably with selling its advanced technologies to enterprises due to its deeply ingrained consumer-driven and engineering-oriented approach.
Kurian, who has had ample experience with B2B dealings at Oracle, may face a cultural challenge to get thousands of engineers and sales personnel in line with his vision.
Betting big on the future of cloud
In October, Pichai had declared the tech giant’s cloud division, which oversees applications for e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets as well as public cloud infrastructure, was growing faster than any of its rivals. “We’re really excited to welcome Thomas whose product vision, customer focus, and deep expertise will be a huge asset to our growing Cloud business,” he said.
Google’s cloud space, which generates a quarterly revenue of over $ 1 billion, is “early and there is an enormous opportunity ahead”, Greene mentioned in her blog post. According to CNBC, Amazon Web Services controls 34 percent of the cloud infrastructure services market, followed by Microsoft, IBM, and Google.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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