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Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt: “Enterprise must move to the cloud now”

The executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, says the “speed limit” to moving to the cloud has been lifted, and enterprises need to pick up the pace of their plans to move off-premise

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, says enterprises need to move to the cloud right now, given the technology is now a proven determinant of business success.

Speaking at the Google Cloud Next Conference in San Francisco, Schmidt said companies that are in the throes of moving need to pick up the pace of their migrations and consider becoming a little more ambitious with regard to where the technology can take them.

“Just get to the cloud now. Just go there now. There is no time to waste anymore,” he said.

A lot companies are still in the “getting there” stage with cloud, but the hurdles that have previously prevented their migrations from progressing at a faster pace are steadily being removed, he said.

“There was a speed limit, and that speed limit was defined by our ability to work with the data we have and the install base that you have, and moving it into this new model,” he said.

“The new model works, trust me. If you’re doing a new build, you’re clearly going to do that anyway if you’re intelligent.”

The “new model” allows firms to deploy and update applications at a faster pace than ever before, and handle far higher amounts of user traffic, he continued.

“Imagine a model that goes something like this: you’re building something in a container on your laptop and you get it working, and you just release it to the cloud and it scales infinitely. That’s how easy this is now,” he said.

To back this point, Schmidt pointed to the success of augmented reality game, Pokémon Go. The application’s developer, Niantic, chose to host it in the Google Cloud, and credits it with being able to withstand the unprecedented levels of post-launch demand it bore witness to.

“Here’s a fantastic product that had 50 times more demand in its first two hours than ever planned in their most optimistic forecasts. I’m quite convinced there was no other way to handle such a phenomenon,” he said.

“[You might say] I’m not trying to be Pokémon Go, but if you could you’d be pretty happy. Think about the global success. So you might as well plan for global success and infinite demand because, even if you don’t get it, your architecture will be right and your costs will be lower.”

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Warming to this theme, he advised the 10,000-strong crowd to look to and feel inspired by the success of other Google Cloud users, such as video and photo-sharing site Snapchat, whose parent company Snap made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on 2 March 2017.

“There are two things that strike you [about Snapchat]. The first was their incredibly fast development in their app, both on Android and iPhone,” he said.

“[Secondly] no-one could figure out how they could do this with so little capital, and the answer is because they used our infrastructure.

“Are you not planning to be like Snapchat? Well, I think everyone here represents a corporation that would be happy to be as successful as they are,” he added.

 Adopt or die

While Schmidt’s “get to the cloud now” rhetoric echoes the “adopt or die” statements lots of other cloud service providers have targeted at enterprises over the years, the difference is Google, Amazon and the other companies that trotted them out have the customer success stories to back them up now.

In the case of Google, the fact Niantic chose its platform to host the augmented reality application in is one thing, but the keynote also saw various other household names open up about the sizeable migration projects they are embarking on with the firm.

These include Disney, whose consumer products division now has around 500 software projects running on Google, having adopted a cloud-first approach to new application deployments, and US telecommunications provider, Verizon.

The company is in the midst of a workplace productivity push with Google, which began in earnest a year ago, which will see the firm move 150,000 Verizon employees over to the company’s G Suite platform.

Cosmetics company, Colgate-Palmolive, also opened up about the major migration project it embarked on in May 2016, which saw 28,000 employees moved onto the Google G Suite over the course of a single weekend the following November.

Diane Greene, senior vice-president of Google’s cloud business, said the size and scale of the cloud migrations its customers are embarking on in 2017 are indicative of just how enterprise attitudes to the technology are changing.

“Does anyone not agree [cloud is] the biggest thing going on in IT right now? The adoption of cloud in general is accelerating. I know in Google cloud this year we’ve seen unbelievable acceleration and the quality of the customer conversations are really changing,” she said.

“Just two weeks ago, I met with five customers over the course of a week, and three of them said they want to do a full lift and shift, and just want to move everything to the cloud. The cloud is no longer a utility for surplus peak capacity. It’s no longer a place just to store things,” she added.

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