Analysts get hot under collar as ex-Oracle cloud guru ditches corporate wardrobe for Google

But Chocolate Factory hopes Kurian's business chops will help win over the enterprise


Google's new cloud chief, Thomas Kurian, has talked up plans to win enterprise customers by expanding his sales team, boosting its dealings with other businesses to shift kit and taking a "sympathetic" approach to legacy tech.

The former Oracle man, who moved to Google Cloud in November, was speaking yesterday at an analyst event at the start of Google Next 2019 in San Francisco.

Although much of the detail was under NDA, analysts took to Twitter to share their takes on his appearance – and it was broadly positive, describing his account of enterprise as pragmatic, practical, business-oriented and measured.

RedMonk co-founder James Governor said that "pretty much the first words" out of Kurian's mouth were about understanding customers' legacy needs and working with them, rather than talking at them, and that Google previously had a reputation for the latter.

Kurian – the twin brother of NetApp head honcho George – was hired to bring Oracle's knowledge of corporate customers to Google, with suited types types being a group the Chocolate Factory needs to win over if its cloud biz is to compete with clear market leaders Amazon Web Services and Azure.

This was always expected to include a change of tone in the firm's go-to-market strategies, but Google's Carol Carpenter reportedly said that a "tremendous" amount of work had been done in the months since Kurian joined.

The main areas where the firm is paying closer attention are said to include contracts, pricing, working more closely with customers, and improving links to the third parties that sell its products (which the industry seems intent on continuing to call "partners/partnerships").

Meanwhile, 451 Research's Owen Rogers said that "the change since Mr Kurian's arrival is that Google appears to be realizing it can't just be a clever tech powerhouse – service matters".

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Kurian confirmed plans for simplified contracts for different types of businesses and more predictable pricing.

In addition, he plans to hire more people in sales and support to provide the hand-holding that customers tend to require.

The WSJ reported that Kurian wouldn't be drawn on specifics, but said the aim was to shift from forces between one-tenth and one-fifteenth the size of AWS and Azure to being half their size, within two years. Sales teams will also be tiered and pointed at specific industries.

Summing up the atmosphere, Constellation's Ray Wang said businesses that sell its products were "more excited than ever" about the "level of support and commitment promised at the IaaS and infra level, the technical resources, and the future hiring commitments".

However, customers will no doubt hope that Kurian leaves some of Oracle's tactics and results behind – namely aggressive pitches and struggling cloud sales. The exec certainly does seem able to ditch some of Big Red's corporate ideals. ®

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