UPDATED 15:00 EDT / APRIL 15 2019


Google Cloud CMO shares her tech journey and insights on Anthos

Google LLC’s Cloud Services Platform always seemed a prosaic name, especially alongside a product pantheon that includes the container-orchestration system Kubernetes (meaning in Greek: helmsman) and microservice mesh Istio (meaning: sail). This changed at the Google Cloud Next event in San Francisco last week, when CSP was reborn as an open, hybrid platform under the name Anthos (meaning: flower).

“Anthos … is a cloud like no other,” said Alison Wagonfeld (pictured), chief marketing officer at Google Cloud. “[It] really enables the multicloud strategy, so it enables Google to be at the center of that multicloud and provide the services … [and] the best technology in the business.”

Those who know Wagonfeld know that she thrives on “the excitement of tackling new challenges; the allure of riding the innovation wave; the anticipation of the unknown,” as she stated in a blog post marking her move to Google Cloud in 2016. So it’s no surprise to find her at the forefront of Google Cloud as the company makes a renewed challenge to Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Azure for supremacy in the cloud services market.

When Diane Greene, then chief executive officer at Google Cloud, approached Wagonfeld to head up the Google Cloud marketing team, the marketer was conflicted. Although excited about the opportunities at Google, she was unsure about leaving a position she loved and nervous about the potential impact on her family. Then, the entrepreneur and mother of three realized four things about herself: She has always loved marketing, she’s an operator at heart, she has a supportive family and she was always on the lookout for opportunities to make an impact. It was then that she knew “this was the right role at the right company at the right time.”

Wagonfeld’s diverse resume includes co-founder of Quicken Loans Inc., financial analyst at Morgan Stanley, board chair at the nonprofit My New Red Shoes and executive director of the Harvard Business School California Research Center. Her role at Google Cloud marketing draws on all these experiences and brings her back to her true love: marketing.

Wagonfeld spoke with John Furrier and Dave Vellante, co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Google Cloud Next event in San Francisco (see the full interview with transcript here).

This week, the CUBE spotlights Alison Wagonfeld in its Women in Tech feature.

Rebranding Google Cloud Services

Google has been the “dark horse” in the cloud market, trailing behind industry leaders Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Azure. Under Wagonfeld’s leadership, the marketing team is driving a rebranding to match the dynamism of Anthos and the company’s new multicloud strategy.

Far from feeling like Google Cloud needs to play catch-up, Wagonfeld feels Google is really well positioned in the multicloud marketplace. “Eighty percent of workloads are still in data centers at these big enterprises … and most companies are choosing a multicloud strategy,” she said.

Infrastructure, applications, and industry solutions are three key areas where Google Cloud aims to beat its competition. “First and foremost is … ensuring that we have the world’s best infrastructure,” Wagonfeld said. “Then, on top of that is ensuring that we have all the right applications to help with digital transformation. And then, as part of that, further, are the industry solutions.”

But while technology is important, Wagonfeld makes sure the customer stays at the very top of the priority list. “We want our customers to be successful with their customers … to make sure we’re delivering the cloud technology so that [our] customers can really serve everyone they want to serve,” she stated.

Anthos is enterprise-ready

When Wagonfeld joined Google, customers were still “dabbling” with cloud, and the company itself had some work to do. “We still had some holes in some of our technology stack, and we were still really building the go-to-market teams,” she stated.

Next 2019 brings a different story, with the 400 customers speaking at the event talking about current experiences rather than future possibilities. These have been collected by Wagonfeld in her book “Customer Voices 2019.” As for Google Cloud itself, “We are truly, this year, enterprise-ready … we are now in a whole different place where we are able to serve really large enterprises at scale,” Wagonfeld stated.

One customer who has journeyed alongside Google during this time is global financial institution The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Darryl West, chief information officer at HSBC Holdings PLC, was a speaker at the Next Customer Innovation Series during Google Cloud Next 2017 when HSBC was just starting its journey. The company returned to speak again in 2019.

“Migrating our workloads and big data capabilities to Google Cloud Platform has resulted in both technical and financial returns and has helped us spur innovation within our large, globally dispersed institution,” according to Darryl West, group chief information officer at HSBC. “We also have peace of mind knowing that Google Cloud takes security and regulatory compliance very seriously.”

Major companies are taking notice as Google Cloud’s multicloud credentials are established. Global pharmaceutical leader McKesson Corp., a Fortune 6 company, just announced that it will be using Google as its cloud provider.

Cloud is a team sport

Ecosystem support is critical to Google Cloud, with global strategic initiative partners, such as Accenture PLC, Atos SE and Deloitte LLP, essential to the company’s gameplan. “We know that we will not be able to create every single last-mile industry solution in every single industry,” Wagonfeld stated. “And working with those companies really helps us.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is one partnership that has received a lot of press coverage. Google Cloud analyzed 80 years of NCAA stats and provided insights to help the organization better understand how to optimize players, coaches and teams, as well as predict games. “Everything from creating brackets to the fan experience,” Wagonfeld said.

For the second year running, Google used data analytics to make live predictions during the NCAA March Madness tournament. To prove the accessibility of its Cloud Platform, Google recruited all-star students from around the country to work on the 2019 NCAA prediction team. The students mastered GCP during a hackathon, and then spent just 30 days working on predictions for the games.

“They were … coming up with new types of stats, like explosiveness,” said Wagonfeld, describing the energy and creativity of the process. “It was really fun.”

The predictions made a compelling case for Google Cloud analytics, and even non-tech savvy fans enjoyed the light-hearted TV spots that played during the games, giving an insight into the capabilities of GCP to a widely diverse audience.

Rebranding Google Cloud Services to Anthos marks a milestone in the evolution of Google Cloud. The company is taking a bold step into the future, making “a clear play for the hearts and minds of next-generation developers,” according to Wikibon analyst James Kobielus.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Google Cloud Next:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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