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Google Cloud’s Acquisition Journey Provides Hints to GCP’s Strategy

As Google Cloud prepares to finalize its $2.4 billion acquisition of Looker, a data analytics company, a look back at Thomas Kurian’s first year as CEO sheds light on Google Cloud Platform’s (GCP) go-to market strategy. A short review of the recently announced technology acquisitions indicates a shift towards building capabilities that can directly compete with the likes of Azure and AWS.

Source: Google Cloud Platform at SoftwareReviews, Accessed February 16, 2020

A recent investor presentation illustrates Google Cloud’s three-pronged strategy. With a mission focused on Google’s differentiating competencies in data management, analytics, and AI/machine learning (ML) as the anchor, Google is rapidly building and scaling out cutting-edge cloud infrastructure and platforms.

Google’s cloud strategy stool is built on three legs:

  • Distributed Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Digital transformation platform
  • Industry-specific digital transformation solutions

Distributed IaaS

This model embraces the concepts of bringing the cloud to all organizations in the way the customer wishes to consume cloud services, including:

  • Public cloud
  • Hybrid cloud
  • Multicloud
  • Global mobile edge cloud

Anthos is the platform service that brokers cloud services for multicloud environments.

Source: Google Investor Presentation – Goldman Sachs

Digital Transformation Platform

Google Cloud realizes that in order to solidify its position as the number-three cloud provider and to eventually move into one of the top two spots, its offering must be able to support a platform-based model. The platform model spans multiple technology stacks at the application layer, such as:

  • AI and ML platforms
  • Data Warehouse as a Service (e.g. Looker, BigQuery)
  • Data management at scale and real-time streaming
  • Open-source application development

Industry Specific Digital Transformation Solutions

CEO Thomas Kurian has called upon a tried and true enterprise sales playbook for Google Cloud. One key aspect of this playbook is the focus on industry-specific verticals. The plan is to leverage Google’s strength in the AI/ML space along with its cutting-edge cloud architecture and unparalleled ability to operate at scale to bring unique and tailored solutions to targeted industry segments. Google is also investing heavily in the areas of direct sales staff, its partner ecosystem (channel, MSP, VAR), and an enterprise-class support system.

Key industries of focus by Google Cloud are retail, healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, and industrial manufacturing. The table below illustrates the specialized services Google seeks to leverage to win deals in these market segments.

Retail Healthcare Financial Services Media and Entertainment Industrial Manufacturing

Search & Forecasting AI

Genome Data Model

Document AI

Vision AI/Video AI

Optimization AI/Vision AI

Behavioral Analytics

Healthcare AI

Risk Analytics

Data Analytics for Media

Android Auto

Supply Chain Optimization

Digital Health Platform

Anti-Money-Laundering (AML)

Object Recognition

Scheduling Optimization

Healthcare Data Exchange

Know Your Customer (KYC)

Real-time Streaming

Energy Optimization

With the overarching strategy articulated above, let’s take a look at how Google Cloud's recent acquisition history maps to its key strategy “legs.”

Company Acquired Date Announced GCP Partner? Key Functionality GCP Cloud Strategy


June 2019


Links to multiple database management systems without the need for a data dump

  • Tailwind for hybrid/multicloud use cases
  • NextGen data analysis capabilities
  • Industry-specific applications


February 2019


Enterprise data pipeline (data migration)

  • Enables hybrid/multicloud use cases


July 2019


File storage for enterprise applications

  • Industry vertical focus
  • Digital transformation platform
  • Hybrid/multicloud


June 2019



  • Cloud security at scale


November 2019


VMware on cloud

  • Digital transformation platform
  • Distributed IaaS
  • Hybrid/multicloud


January 2020


Low-code/no-code development

  • Digital transformation platform
  • Multicloud


This is a potential game-changer for Google Cloud, as it builds on Google’s already best-in-class business intelligence (BI) and analytics capabilities, most notably via its Big Query service. Looker brings the ability to link to multiple data warehouse systems such as Amazon’s Redshift, Snowflake, and Google’s Big Query as well as tried and true Microsoft SQL. The difference between Looker and other tools in the BI space is that the data can reside in its home repository. Looker also uses a proprietary language called LookML, which is ostensibly more straightforward to use than traditional SQL queries. This should enable an accelerated adoption path for self-service end users who are not developers.

Additionally, out of Looker’s 1,700 existing customers, over 350 are shared with Google already. Forward-thinking technology evangelists state that Looker is a break from the mold of the pure-play data visualization players like Tableau and Qlik. However, I’m sure Salesforce would disagree, in light of its approximately $9 billion takeover of Tableau!


The Alooma acquisition ties in with Google Cloud’s aspirations to be the leader in multicloud enablement. Alooma characterizes itself as an enterprise data platform, which is tech jargon for a data-migration play. It’s an existing Google Cloud partner with deep expertise in the areas of both enterprise and open-source databases, and Google hopes to leverage these capabilities in easing the migration of customers to the cloud. Alooma brings with it existing integrations with Google Ads, Google Analytics, Cloud Spanner, and BigQuery.


Although technically not an acquisition, Alphabet-owned Chronicle was folded back under the Google umbrella and will join forces with Google Cloud. Chronicle’s marquee product is Backstory. Backstory is a cloud platform where clients can store their network-intelligence data in perpetuity, without having to pay up as storage volumes grow. This allows clients to retroactively find security breaches and other events that were not initially detected. Backstory also leverages the massive scale (think compute, storage, and network) and depth of Google’s analytics capabilities to identify patterns and anomalies in an aggregated fashion across all of its customer base (customers can opt out of this feature).


Just a month following the announcement of the Looker acquisition, Thomas Kurian struck again with the announcement that Google Cloud was acquiring Dell-backed Elastifile, a cloud-storage play focused on enterprise applications. Elastifile describes its offering as “File Storage as-a-Service For The Cloud.” Elastifile provides a cloud-native solution for traditional storage protocols (NFS) to offer a streamlined ability to migrate legacy on-premises workloads easily to the cloud. Elastifile provides a bridge between the new application management solutions, such as containers, and the lagging data management solutions, allowing complex data sets to reside in Google Cloud. Elastifile also claims to enable an easy on-ramp from on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, like SAP, to the cloud.


CloudSimple enables VMware workloads to run in the public cloud. More IT shops want to continue running and operating their various applications within the VMware environment while migrating the underlying infrastructure to the public cloud. CloudSimple facilitates the workload migration to the cloud and enables new VMware workloads to be spun up, all while preserving the pre-existing architecture.


With this acquisition, Google Cloud seeks to enable the masses to build meaningful applications and workflows without the need to write code. As the developer shortage shows no end in sight, building out the ability for enterprises to scale out on public cloud platforms is critical, and low-code/no-code solutions seek to bridge this gap. AppSheet is seen competing with the PowerPlatform recently launched by Microsoft. RBC sees this market growing from a relatively paltry $6 billion in 2018 to $52 billion by 2024. AppSheet is platform agnostic, integrating with data sets from Excel, Salesforce, Smartsheet, and Dropbox, among others

Our Take

Google just may be serious, finally, in becoming a top-tier vendor to the enterprise masses. Google has publicly stated that it expects to be a top-two provider in the public cloud space by 2023, just a short few years from now. The recent string of thoughtful acquisitions demonstrates real action towards the Google Cloud buildout of capabilities focused on enabling an open cloud, whether all IaaS, hybrid, or multicloud. Currently, Google Cloud is playing catch-up to AWS and Azure. However, the feature parity gap may narrow quickly if further acquisitions are coupled with the vast resource pool Google can apply towards this growing business segment.

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