A sequel is always a risk – in a movie, book or even an industry conference. So I flew out to Structure in San Francisco this past week with some trepidation.The conference had been a major industry event for many years, and I’d been a regular participant. Unlike other shows that are more about vendors, at Structure, the major cloud thinkers and leaders attended to debate the growth and direction of the cloud, and to share war stories from the front lines. Much credit to Om and the Gigaom team for creating this place for the industry to gather.
But times move on and after the conference was cancelled last year and then re-launched under new ownership, it was hard to guess if the updated event would be worthwhile. So it was great to see that many of the originally planned speakers and moderators had signed up, and that there was a good crowd at the event itself.
There was a good discussion about the importance of latency with Quentin Clark, Chief Business Officer at SAP, which resonated greatly with me given ClearSky’s focus on tackling the latency challenge for enterprise cloud adoption. But the moment that really stood out was a discussion with Urs Hölzle, SVP of Technical Architecture at Google. Stacey Higginbotham, the Fortune Senior Editor who moderated the session, challenged Urs head on: “Is Google really serious about enterprise cloud? Why has it been slow to catch up with Amazon and even Microsoft here?” Urs acknowledged that Google is behind but insisted that the company is committed and focused on building its cloud business, predicting that “cloud revenues could be bigger than advertising revenues by 2020.” Bold words, that to be honest, seemed a bit like empty words.
The next day, those words looked more like a heads up to the industry, when Google announced that it had hired VMware co-founder Diane Greene to run its cloud business. If there’s a stronger signal to the industry that Google intends to take on the cloud, I’m not sure what it would be. Google already has great leadership with Brian Stevens, formerly of Red Hat, who has been building the cloud platform for over a year. As Aaron Levie tweeted: “Just when you thought the cloud wars were done. Nope. Just getting started.” My sentiments exactly.
So game on for Google, and for the Structure Conference, where real news gets shared. Glad to see it’s back.
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