Still, Google made progress under Greene, winning at least pieces of the public cloud business from numerous companies, including Apple, PayPal, Etsy, Evernote, Fitbit, HubSpot, Shopify, Twitter and Zendesk.
“We went from people not even knowing that this was an area where Google had an offering, to essentially now, every time that people talk about cloud, they talk about the big three,” said Alison Wagonfeld, Google Cloud’s marketing chief.
Google is playing squarely into the emerging multicloud theme, vying to provide services to companies that don’t want to be wed to a single provider. For example, Google has won business from some Amazon cloud customers, like Salesforce and The New York Times.
Benioff told CNBC that “Google is now an enterprise player, there’s no doubt about that.” He attributes that position to Greene and said that while Google needs to ramp up its hiring in sales to catch up with its rivals, “in many accounts, they’ve shown up extremely competitively.”
But frequently you’ll hear stories like the one told by Workday’s David Clarke.
In 2016, months into Greene’s tenure, the finance and human resources software vendor considered Google when it was picking out a preferred public cloud. But it passed and chose AWS instead. At the time, Google was in the early stages of commercializing its cloud, said Clarke, Workday’s senior vice president of technology and infrastructure.
“They hadn’t thought through all the operational, economic and practical requirements that companies, especially bigger companies, would have,” Clarke said in an interview. He said that Google has improved since then and if he were making the decision today it would be “a close call.”
Autodesk, which has used Amazon’s cloud for years, turned to the Google cloud for one initiative in 2016. But the company stuck with Amazon for primary workloads, a person familiar with the matter said. And Zendesk announced an application-development platform last week but chose to launch it on AWS.
“If you analyze the depth of their [Google’s] stack globally, for example, it’s leaner than AWS can offer,” said Mikkel Svane, Zendesk’s CEO. “That’s one example of where they [AWS] stand out.”
In 2017, Google held just 3.3 percent of the overall worldwide cloud infrastructure market, according to Gartner Research. While Google picked up share from the prior year, it was still behind way behind AWS and Microsoft and trailed Alibaba.