The other day, The Information released a bombshell of a story about GCP having until 2023 to beat AWS’s and/or Azure’s market share or else it gets whacked. 

First, I firmly believe that the authors are writing in good faith. I don’t subscribe to the notion (as seen on the Terrible Orange Website) that this is a hit piece planted by a competitor, and I don’t doubt that some version of the meeting in question actually took place. 

Google has issued a blanket denial of the meeting as reported. But I’d bet that something similar was said—and also included context that didn’t get reported.

For the record, I also would bet considerably that they’re not going to turn GCP off anytime soon—if for no other reason than that would represent an extinction-level event for many companies.

When launching a new initiative, every company defines both success and failure criteria for that initiative. This blog, the newsletter, the podcasts, the consultancy—Mike and I worked through each to determine at what point we’d declare victory, or else shutter the thing in question. 

This happens inside every company looking at prospective or existing offerings. It’s a standard aspect of doing business, and failing to do it is probably a sign of “strategy amateur hour.” 

Success and failure criteria continue to evolve with time—as new information, both from customers and the market at large, becomes known. Even AWS (motto: “We never shutter products!”) would certainly shutter products if they had no customers; to expect otherwise is lunacy. 

Why the story resonates

This story took off because it plays directly into a very obvious perceptual gap about Google; specifically its propensity for shutting off beloved (and, admittedly, largely consumer) services over the outraged cries of loyal supporters. 

Reader, Inbox, Plus, Hire. Each feels like it teaches a different lesson about something Google supposedly “would never deprecate” until—SURPRISE!—they did. 

What feeds this narrative is that customers and users are tired of being made to feel like idiots when something they champion is taken away from them. Once-passionate Google supporters (and yes, I very much was one of them) find themselves the subject of uncomfortable questions from people who rely on and trust their advice. And it doesn’t take too many experiences along that vein for the (arguably false) narrative of “Google turns everything off” to emerge.  

I get why it’s important to turn off underperforming services. I get why the Google culture evolved the way it did. And I get that corporate messaging is freaking impossible. 

But in the context of “Google turns everything off” as a narrative, Google didn’t lose the argument so much as they failed to make strong, sweeping statements and match them with actions around proving their validity.

3 snark-free opinions on Google Cloud

Now that I’ve heard from at least one company that their GCP plans are effectively dead in light of yesterday’s news, allow me to state my opinions without snark for a change.

1. I believe that GCP is here to stay.

2. I believe that, should Google “get bored” with GCP, there’s no way they’d turn it off; they would spin GCP off into another company or sell it. 

3. I don’t hate Google. You don’t become a near-trillion dollar company without making some hard decisions. Just as I don’t ever want individuals at AWS to feel bad when I snark at AWS, I don’t want Googlers to think I’m crapping all over their work, either. It’s only funny until it makes someone feel shitty.

GCP has its challenges, but the technology is fascinating. In some ways it’s far ahead of AWS offerings. I think the idea of sustained-use discounts is inspired and incredibly customer-friendly. I’m a huge fan of how easy it is to get up and running with a GCP project—and then turn off all the billing parts when you’re done. 

If GCP can fix its perception problem, it has a very real chance to gain stupendous adoption. 

I hope it does. 

No one wins in a cloud monoculture, and AWS having serious competition (more than just Azure!) is a benefit for everyone—even the cloud providers themselves.