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How Google is beating Microsoft in the cross-platform cloud

Image credit: ICT Journal

Microsoft's Azure Cloud solution and Amazon's (AWS) cloud platform are the industry's cloud leaders. Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella's professional experience and passion for cloud computing are reflected in his unwavering commitment to pushing Microsoft's future deeper and more broadly into the cloud.

Despite Windows phone and Microsoft enthusiasts' complaints about Nadella's lack of consumer focus and seeming cloud-obsessed tunnel vision his strategy has greatly benefitted the company. The company took, for a time, the lead as the world's most valuable company mainly due to its cloud success.

The rewards are not just financial. Microsoft is second only to Amazon as an industry cloud provider, and hundreds of companies use its enterprise cloud solutions. Azure is a preferred platform for enterprise cloud solutions.

Furthermore, Microsoft's ambitious goal of making the intelligent cloud the world's computer is strengthening its grip as a leading enterprise and hybrid cloud provider. Supported by its ubiquitous computing strategy, an aggressive enterprise sales force and acquisitions like its purchase of Express Logic that broaden its IoT reach, Microsoft is a force to be reckoned with. This is complemented by Microsoft's long-standing enterprise partnerships where its hybrid cloud and cloud solutions are pushed as an augmentation to the Microsoft technologies business partners already use. Google desirous of part of that hybrid cloud enterprise pie introduced its open source-based hybrid cloud solution, Anthos which can run on competing platforms – like Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's AWS.

Anthos brings Google's cloud cross-platform

Despite its underdog position, Google has set its sights on Microsoft's entrenched hybrid cloud customers, and it's approaching the challenge from a unique angle. Google's SVP of Technical Infrastructure at Google Urs Hölzle claims that customers have complained about an inability to run their workloads on a combination of multiple clouds and their own servers.

Google is "solving" this problem with a cross-platform cloud strategy that seems to take a page out of Microsofts platform-agnostic-give-customers-the-tools-they-need-to achieve-more approach. The founder of Lopez Research and principal analyst Maribel Lopez, said,

You as a cloud provider want to provide the hammers and nails for [building better apps and workloads]. That's what Google is trying to do with their business cloud strategy.

Google is executing this Microsoft-esque strategy by giving customers, Anthos, an open source cloud solution that works across cloud platforms, like Azure and AWS, to which they may have already committed resources.

The Anthos and Kubernetes open source advantage

Anthos is Google's new container management system which is based on an internal open source project, Kubernetes, which began in 2014. Kubernetes, which is now a standard in software development, is built on the underlying tech that powers Google's Borg system. Borg manages the company's massive computing infrastructure across servers and data centers. Google's Kubernetes Engine is the company's service based on the open source Kubernetes cloud platform.

Anthoses' Kubernete's foundation gives customers the ability to run their Google-managed workloads on rival cloud platforms. Additionally, customers are not required to buy new hardware since it is software based.

In a nutshell Anthos:

  • Lets users run containerized applications saving time and resources previously used managing Kubernetes clusters.
  • Is a hybrid solution that runs on Google's Cloud Platform and in customers data centers using Google Kubernetes Engine On-Prem.
  • Allows users to manage workloads on third-party clouds.

Hölzle, said, "The ability for businesses to run on multiple clouds is really a game changer." Microsoft should be wary, because he may be right. As Google's relative success with Chromebooks shows, the company is willing to persistently invest and plod along from an underdog position to reach its goals.

Google has to sell Anthos to companies sold on Azure

Microsoft is spearheading its industry moves with its highly successful cloud strategy. As an incumbent enterprise cloud leader, Microsoft has an advantage over Google's attempts to overtake its success.

In fact, Microsoft's own investments in containers and Kubernetes could stall Google's attempts to stake a claim in Microsoft's enterprise strongholds. The companies Azure Kubernetes Service and its merging of public cloud services with private clouds reveal an aggressive positioning to maintain and progress it leading cloud efforts.

Still, Google's Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian is unmoved. He has forged an army of salespeople numbered in the thousands to take its open source, cross-platform Anthos cloud solution to the enterprise. And for customers who have acknowledged managing workloads across multiple clouds as a "pain point," Google's salesforce army may have a message some of Microsoft's and Amazon's customers are willing to hear. The question on Microsoft's mind (the company that champions cross-platform tools) is likely, "will they buy it?"

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

41 Comments
  • Inb4 people claiming Microsoft is doomed and that this is somehow about mobile.
  • I facepalmed so hard I have a headache
  • MySpace wasn't first either. CompuServe and GEnie both predated it. Probably others.
  • Don't forget Friendster (2002), which came before MySpace (2003)
  • First of all, I don't claim to know any of this. I am just sharing my thoughts on this.
    Too many writes like their word is fact. I will attempt to be better than that. Now to my comment. Hm... I would argue that Google lacks the Trust-factor which is a key component to any business; A component that, at least for the enterprise, Microsoft has.
    It may be different on Google's professional and non-consumer based products, but if they think that they can run their business without trust in the enterprise sector, then I would see that as ignoring the entirety of EU as GDPR and its legal trust-reinforcement policies will likely be very wary of any company treating personal identifiable information (PPI) with Google services. I believe there was at least one example of this where the church ministry of Denmark was caught using Google Drive for storing PPI and had to change their practices plus some kind of fine.
    Google may very well be aware of issues like these, in which case, I am glad. My lack of knowledge on this subject forbids me to dive further into matters, but I look forward to see what will happen none the less.
  • e.g. Android Things got dropped.
    Volvo was using it on their upcoming Polestar 2. Vehicles need several years of development time and several more years of support time...
  • The comments are gonna be a nightmare. 😩
  • Don't look at it like that, I for one prefer to treat it like a stroll in the madhouse. It never disappoints, too. A totally clever armchair CEO saying "nutjobnadella" here (or whatever is the fashionable derogatory name for Nadella now, probably racist too because you never see this with other CEOs somehow), some guy whining about Windows Phone and "mobile" there, a little bit of "Google will destroy Microsoft" and "Microsoft is doomed" thrown in for good measure and look, someone in the corner is still rocking in their chair, still high on thinking that somehow everything ever in tech from now on can only succeed if you have a mobile OS and that if you have a mobile OS, everything you ever do will be a raging success. Today we've even got somebody complaining that Microsoft stopped trying in social media (I mean, just ???). I swear some people still haven't got over Windows Phone and should get therapy for PTSD. But honestly when you've seen enough of all this you learn to find it amusing. But if you feel addressed by any of the points above (congratulations if you do, by the way), you're absolutely right to judge me badly, I really shouldn't have wasted my time with the comments here.
  • What about me, who completely Hates Google and wishes every time they come along like Bizarro and all "Goodbye, me am worse than Microsoft , hello to them!" that they lose something else😒
  • Despite some people getting high on the idea Google is not ever going to take over everything just because they managed to win with mobile operating systems. Just like everyone else, Google is having its fair share of failures. Though if you hate Apple as well I guess you're going to be in trouble. I think as long as you don't mind one of those three companies you'll be able to avoid the other two (personally I don't avoid any) but you won't really be able to avoid all three, though you'll still be able to keep one of them to a minimum.
  • "...and hundreds of companies use its enterprise cloud solutions". Jason, surely you didn't mean HUNDREDS. Whether you are talking about companies runing their own cloud solutions on Auzre or companies relying on Microsoft or 3rd party applications that run on Azure (eg CRM, ERP etc) then that comment from the article is WAY OFF.
  • google always beat microsoft, and wait how google i/o will beat microsoft build next month
  • Google always beats Microsoft? Really? What alternate universe are you from?
  • who beat windows phone? google
    who beat bing search engine? google
    who beat edge browser? google
    who forced microsoft to get out from consumer market? google
    google is designed to beat microsoft.......
  • Microsoft still owns majority of laptop sales
    Microsoft still in consumer market with PCs, 2 in 1 tablets and Xbox
    Google has good ideas but far from being a good ethical company. don't forget just in 2015 they were accused in antipoaching https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-google-others-settle-anti-poaching-lawsu..., and settled with payment.
    Microsoft had also been accused with not treating their female employees fairly, but the cases didn't stick, at least in recent years.
    I will always back a company that's ethical over one that is not.
    Because god knows what other unethical stuff Google is doing?
    Microsoft recently briefly held the title of being the most valuable company, so I won't say Google is coming close to beating Microsoft yet.
    If Google does end up driving Microsoft out of business, I have no doubt your various rights will be violated left, right and center without you even knowing like it probably is now.
  • Where's AR, MR, Xbox, PC, 2in1, notebook, desktop, IOT (Google dropped Android Things)?
    How about Uncharted, Zelda, water meter, drone, surveillance, vending machine, cashier, Norway, Miami, India, Dubai, Singapore, General Electric, military usage, medical usage, Nike, Samsung, MasterCard, Biotechnologies, LG, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, Nissan, Delphi, Volvo, Ford, Harman, Walmart, Walgreens, etc? Android is an API-all-OEM-can-tamper OS. Pixel3 was launched with issues, updates fixed some but also introduced some. Other OEM phones have their own issues. Vulkan is still crippled on Note7/8/9. Fake updates or no updates issue (cause no one gets to merge their mods or hacks back to master branch). It's re-do + catch up every time Google releases new update.
    Android is an ill designed OS tbh. Google got lucky cause its ONLY competitor was iOS.
    (I'm not saying WP makes more sense cause it doesn't. It runs no XPA/UWP we run on our desktop and it's late to the game. WCOS make sense) Do you think Stadia will work?
    Q: Will it work everywhere, anytime around the planet?
    On a bullet train / flight? In some basement of some restaurants / café? Q: Can you sell games?
    Paying $60 upfront before kids can join YouTubers? Q: Subscription model. AAA on day1? Q: Overlay ads model. AAA on day1? Can ads cover the cost generated by of better-than-highest-tier-consumer-gaming-HW? 10 CPU/GPU per game session for free for developers? Q: Outatime, Kahawai, font API, touch screen API, etc equivalent? Q: Convince devs to support Stadia's Linux distro? Q: Google has dropped many services and products over the year, how long will Stadia survive?
  • I made some corrections for you Abdul. who beat windows phone? Steve Ballmer
    who beat bing search engine? You could say Google but Microsoft really beat themselves
    who beat edge browser? Wrong. Google beat Internet Explorer. Edge was late to the game
    who forced microsoft to get out from consumer market? Microsoft is out of the consumer market? Really? Now I know you're from another universe.
    google is designed to beat microsoft....... Um. Okay we get it. You're a Google fanboy. Listen I like Google and use some of their products but you're on a completely different level.
  • Microsoft is still in the consumer market dummy. They still sell Windows and Surface products to consumers which by the way beat Chrome OS and destroyed Chromebook hardware divisions. All of those apps that are on Android that are downloaded in the millions even though they do the same things Google apps do too but better.
  • Bizarro World, but he's not wrong unfortunately...maybe it's not all bad? Idk 😓
  • No phone no investment from me. its the reason i dont own a surface product. Im with android now. I miss live tiles and windows mobile 8.1 my favorite mobile platform but microsft abandoned me and soon i hope google will have a meaningfull desktop gaming grasp and a os to put on it. Ill be gone. I love windows 10 desktop but i want all my devices under the same hood. Cotrana was great windows live tiles were great but have youseen the mess of tiles on windows 10 its like all the developers cant even bee bothered to make tiles for their apps software games lol. Embarrassing. Not to mention no voice control on netflix. Hum is microsft a hardware company now cause their software seems to lack in alot of areas. Ofc google will take the gameing crown one day and unleas microsoft does somethong amazing in th3 phone and dessktop front theyll eventually lose not only the consumer market but also the working envoirnment. I s3nse that will be the way in the next 2 generations.
  • You may have be right, but MS will eventually move away from tiles, IMHO. I agree that tiles are not as useful as they once were or as useful as they should be. For me, I just like the look of tiles, because it stands out from everything else. Just personal preference. As for Google taking the gaming crown, I doubt it. At least, not anytime soon, if ever. They still have Sony and Nintendo to contend with. If Microsoft pulls off their game streaming, with little lag on their part, it will be something Google will have to catch up to. Keep in mind, Google would have to gain a userbase. Most people that own consoles are vested and many of the games that the digitally own may be available to stream on other devices. Google will have to develop that kind of user as and it will be some time, defore they do. For them, exclusive games that people will want to play is key. Otherwise, I doubt they could ever hope to gain the kind of ground Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have gained. I'm not even going to talk about the possibility of Microsoft's streaming service being able to stream on the Nintendo Switch. That in itself would greatly boost Nintendo's handheld position and add to MS's position in mobile gaming, because let's not forget, their service should be able to stream over compatible smartphones too. I'm not saying Google won't do well, but take the crown, highly doubtful. At least, not anytime soon. But, the first two years will tell how well received Google efforts are. Otherwise, they will find themselves in MS shoes with mobile. Just to add, this has nothing to do with
  • 'nutjobnadella' and all MS execs need to be shown the door - and not gently.
    MS stopped trying on Mobile
    MS stopped trying on Cortana
    MS stopped trying on Edge
    MS stopped trying in social media by buying of all companies linkedin
    MS stopped trying to promote Bing
    Now MS has lost pace in the race for Azure? (I, nor no-one I know care anything about it really, it is just the direction they said they must take) Wasted money, wasted opportunities. 'nutjobnadella' tried to get people to believe manufacturers would not produce their phones which Nokia and others did a great job of producing but in this day and age when the mobile phone is the number one way people access the internet who gives up on their mobile OS and promotes another company??? 'nutjobnadella' and the idiot 'Raj'. They are deliberately working hard to hand the company piece by piece to google. They only work towards that end. There is no other plausible explanation for their course of action. They have let the third-worlders chop up a formerly fine company. Time to get the pitchforks and torches and run them out!
  • Actually Azure is already moving towards supporting other cloud solutions, Azure Security Center for one already supports other cloud services. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/hybrid-cloud-app/ Azure being a big money cow to Microsoft and cloud being Microsoft's current strategy, I don't think they will stop pushing for cross-platform cloud service.
  • Terrible article. GCP is known in the industry to be a massive failure in comparison to Azure and Amazon. Google over the last 3 years has literally got a seriously bad name in the cloud tech industry. Many companies which moved to GCP are leaving quicker than they joined. Google used low cost to draw companies in. Like ChromeBook. But quickly consumers and companies have realized how bad Google is in the PC and cloud sector. ChromeBook accounts for 0.7% of PC sales in 2018. And GCP has half the data centers Azure has around the world. They even closed some down in 2018 due to lack of use. This article screams like a last Ditch Google attempt to hang onto the cloud market that is slipping through their fingers. It will be even worse for them when Stadia is Completely destroyed by Xcloud. Some Rumours are already starting that Xcloud is alot more stable because of them using high latency code locally on the device your using. There is a reason Satya invested in cloud when Google and Apple invested in Phones.
  • Well as usual, the writer went ahead n wrote the whole article based on Google's marketing pitch.
  • Actually techie the bulk of the 200-plus word opening gives a clear the foundational picture of Microsoft's cloud advantage, it present and future goals, it's industry leader position, long-term vision and Nadella's cloud focus and how cloud, from Microsofts, perspective, spans is the computing platform of the present and future. The following sections of this article, on a Microsoft-focused site, explains how Google is attempting to combat that position and strategy. While making references to Microsoft's leader position. The close, comes back around reiterating Microsoft's entrenched lead in cloud computing, Microsoft's own investments in the same Kubenetes platform Google is leveraging as an advantage, and Microsoft’s own hybrid cloud investments. And ends with Google's primary strategy against Microsoft's deeply entrenched position of "selling" its solution with an massive and aggressive sales force. So now, techie, this isn't just isn't based in Google’s sales pitch. It's based on a view of industry players, their respective positions and strategies and the advantages each bring to the table and how that battle is playing out.
  • "So now, techie, this isn't just isn't based in Google’s sales pitch. It's based on a view of industry players, their respective positions and strategies and the advantages each bring to the table and how that battle is playing out." I read it twice, did not see it. and your response here greatly contradicts the Title of this article
  • Hi asoyemi, thanks for reading, but please read a third time. "View of industry players and thier positions" The first 200-plus word section is a clearly Microsoft focused foundation providing the backdrop and context for Google's "underdog" response where I talk about Microsoft's lead in cloud, it's goals, and cloud as world computer strategy before ending that section with a lead into Google's response: "Google desirous of part of that hybrid cloud enterprise pie introduced its open source-based hybrid cloud solution, Anthos which can run on competing platforms – like Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's AWS. This provies a context for the reality that Microsoft and Amazon are the cloud leaders, and gave context to why Google is interested in hybrid cloud and why thier recently announced Anthos is coming from the strategic, cross-platform perspective Google is coming from. Their respective strategies and advantages they bring to tge table. Google is the underdog, so as I stressed in the following sections, it's cross-platform cloud approach is Microsoft-sequel in that the advantage it brings is thatvit works on entrenched leaders cloud, not unlike Microsoft's cross platform app strategy that works on other platforms. Advantages they bring to the table Of course, including some of the high level technical aspects and history behind Google's aporoach was relevant. How the battle is playing out And the end circles back to the beginning, with additional information sharing again that Microsoft is an incumbent cloud leader, that has some investments that can counter the cross-platform cloud advantage that Google brought to the table, (Google brought it first in this way thus the title) showing Google's struggle despite advantages it brings against the incumbents advantage. It ends, again, with success resting on Google’s ability to sell this to Microsoft's enterprise customers and Google's heavy investment with a huge sales force in attempting to do so. With a final note from Microsoft's view, with a question that some may have picked up on has dual meaning, "Will they (Microsoft's customers) buy it." One meaning is will they literally buy Google’s product. And they second meaning is Will they buy, or be seduced by a strong or slick sales pitch, since the sales team is where the success of Google's approach currently lies.
  • The reason Satya invested in cloud is because Windows phones went nowhere. Google and Apple are the leaders in phones. All 3 companies are investing in their respective strengths. Which is what all successful companies do. Apple will not start an enterprise cloud service and Microsoft is done with phones. Sony is not going to get into the WiFi router market. Chrysler is never going to sell motorcycles. You get the idea.
  • Well said. No reason to pretend that Microsoft's concession of the mobile market was because they had some grander vision instead of it just being utter defeat. But that was years ago, they cut their losses and moved on to greener (for them) pastures. And I think they have succeeded at that. Yet for some reason some people in this forum seem to believe that being successful in mobile phones is necessary for success in anything else these days, and that being successful in phones will make you successful in everything else, which is ridiculous.
  • The point was, cloud was and is the future. It will be what everything runs on. Including phones. Consumers aren't loyal. They migrate to fads. Phones weren't and never will be the future. The backbone will. I'm not pretending MS didn't try to win that game. But Staya saw the picture differently. Which is why MS are close to becoming the biggest tech company in the world again. Overtaking Amazon now. And closing in on Apple. In terms of overall company financial value.
  • Cloud is part of the future, absolutely, but it's not THE future. Phones will continue to be the primary computing platform for the foreseeable future so they're just as much part of the future. People migrate to fads but Android and iOS have become far too entrenched for anything to change there. Which means that for the foreseeable future, Google will continue to have an immensely advantageous position in the overall tech market.
  • "There is a reason Satya invested in the cloud when Google and Apple invested in Phones."
    One of those reasons is Cross-platform centric, which Ward has written about a zillion of times.
  • While folks will point at mobile, or not, the major issue is trust and that's something that MS seems to have been hell bent on destroying as it's shuttered one product after another without any apparent overarching policy other than Azure or the cloud. That's where Google has a leg up on MS and why folks can have fears for MS in the long term. While Nadella seems myopic on this the warnings will remain relevant.
  • Curiously in other places, people give xCloud much better chances than Stadia because they don't trust Google to not just shut it down after a few years, while they do trust Microsoft to do it (i.e. not shut it down). Many people are still very salty about the end of Inbox, among others. What I'm saying is simply that the question of which company you perceive to be less trustworthy as far as cancellations go seems to depend a lot on which one you're most invested in. Most people in the world never heard of or cared about Windows Phone or Groove as they were not as invested in Microsoft so they don't mistrust Microsoft as a result of those cancellations.
  • Seriously Jason? I've been reading your articles and have never seen this side of you. Posting something with "Sensationalism" headlines is not your style. As for the article istelf, how can Google be beating Miscrosft and AWS , when
    "Google is "solving" this problem with a cross-platform cloud strategy that seems to take a page out of Microsofts platform-agnostic-give-customers-the-tools-they-need-to achieve-more approach." and
    "Still, Google's Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian is unmoved. He has forged an army of salespeople numbered in the thousands to take its open source, cross-platform Anthos cloud solution to the enterprise.
    Cut the sensationalism headlines Jason. It's not your style.
  • Not my title choice either.😉It's not the title I pitched.
  • All the details in your article did not say or share anything remotely close to the Title of your article
    "How Google is beating Microsoft in the cross-platform cloud"
    I read a lot in your article about:
    Google trying to...
    Google could...
    MSFT better watch out... etc But Zilch on Google beating MSFT. Also, when you wrote "Still, Google's Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian is unmoved. He has forged an army of salespeople numbered in the thousands to take its open source, cross-platform Anthos cloud solution to the enterprise." Did you ever wonder that MSFT would access to same Open Source...
    Why is Google out of the $10B DoD Cloud bid that is now just between AWS and Azure Did someone forge your name on this suspect article? It sure does not sound like you even missing basic logic and that Title...
  • Hi aoymemi you state: All the details in your article did not say or share anything remotely close to the Title of your article *How Google is beating Microsoft in the cross-platform cloud" This following detail from the article addresses the point of the title: Anthoses' Kubernete's foundation gives customers the ability to run their Google-managed workloads on rival cloud platforms. The title specifically says "How Google is beating Microsoft in the cross-platform cloud". Microsoft's cloud does not yet have the cross platform aspects Google's Anthos introduced. You then ask Did you ever wonder that MSFT would access to same Open Source... Actually, I wrote the following paragraph in the article talking about how Microsoft already uses the open source platform Kubernetes and suggest that it has more plans of its own with the platform: In fact, Microsoft's own investments in containers and Kubernetes could stall Google's attempts to stake a claim in Microsoft's enterprise strongholds. The companies Azure Kubernetes Service and its merging of public cloud services with private clouds reveal an aggressive positioning to maintain and progress it leading cloud efforts. Thanks for reading and joining the discussion. 🙂
  • The new service that was added to Google cloud platform I'll definitely make the company the most giant company in cloud computing services, because it's a service that you really need but you don't know you need it. For me I called it a door to door services.
  • Jason Ward.. Can you please do an informative editorial simply explaining all the modern concepts like "machine learning", "bots", "intelligent cloud", and so on..??? There's gotta be at least 10-20 modern technical terms that can be addressed. That would be an invaluable tool for our readers