06 Nov 2012, Dan Worth , V3
In the 14 years since Google was formed it has become a market leader in many areas such as search - still its bread-and-butter core business - and mobile, with Android now found in three out of every four smartphones sold according to recent research.
It's also pushed into email, with Gmail a hugely popular tool, and the social world with Google+. And while all of these developments can appear to be consumer-orientated, they have all played a key part in the firm's continued push into the enterprise IT landscape.
Now, in an exclusive with V3, Google's head of enterprise for the UK Thomas Davies has given more insights on the firm's plans to grow its presence in the enterprise market, as it continues rival IT veterans such as Microsoft, IBM and HP.
One area Davies was keen tout is it plans to ramp up the push of its big data offering Big Query.
This was actually announced as far back as 2010 but, to date, Google has been surprisingly quiet about its capabilities and updates have been minimal.
The platform offers firms the chance to query billions of rows of data, if stored on Google's infrastructure, in a similar manner to the likes of SAP with its Hana application. But Davies said Google's Big Query service offers more benefits by letting firms use Google's software APIs to analyse the data.
"The APIs we offer are the same ones we were using to run our own business, such as Prediction or Translation that we've refined over the last five to 10 years. We're now licensing that and that's something no-one else can offer, it's a huge differentiator," he said.
"This means our technology stack is unique and not just another ‘me too' offering running on Azure. We build it all ourselves, even down to the servers."
While Google hasn't made too much noise about Big Query beyond the occasional blog post, Davies hinted to V3 that the firm has some sizeable announcement around the platform to be made in the near future, although he was coy on specifics when pressed.
MWC Advisor research analyst Helena Schwenk told V3 that given Google's past involvement with big data around Map Reduce it's well placed to become a serious contender in this market.
"I believe it holds promise to lower the traditionally high up-front cost barriers of analytic deployments by providing a more cost-effective, quicker to deploy and more scalable analysis environment," she said.
In particularly she said Big Query could be viewed as an "analytics-in-the-cloud offering" that can be used as and when by businesses to analyse data in huge volumes.
"Its ability to allow firms/developers to take advantage of Google's massive compute power, store large volumes of data as needed, and pay only for what they use, is likely to appeal to smaller companies especially those that face budget and resource constraints," she added.
Big data represents one of the four main growth areas in the IT world at present and Davies told V3 Google is no different from other in the market to focus on this and the other three of mobility, social, and cloud computing and, crucially, the way they are merging together.
As such, when discussing the its Google+ platform for enterprise use, Davies said people had misunderstood it as purely a social tool, rather than another piece to its overall offering that merged trends together.
"People are crying out for a new ways of working. We see massive interest and traction in collaboration and so Google+ for the Enterprise is immersed in collaboration. That's a big bet for us," he said.
As a result Davies said Google+ is not just a social tool but a much wider offering of which social is just one aspect.
"People had expected us to build a standalone destination site for social - ‘thou shalt go here to be social' - but we don't believe in that," he said.
"Social is a fabric that goes into all our products. Look at the ability to do social commenting in Google Docs, the integration of Google Hangouts into Gmail and Calendar.
"We're seeing these things merge together - collaboration and social into one."
He also touted the firm's push to develop enterprise grade controls for Google+ as another example of the work it's doing to entice companies to the platform, citing customers wins of ITV, Ocado Trinity Mirror as firms that have moved to use its platform.
Focusing on mobile, Davies touched on the recent availability of 4G in the UK, claiming it would provide a boost to employees' productivity, particularly as mobility is now a central part of the business world.
"4G is definitely a good thing. Anything that can speed up an end users experience on a device is good." he said.
Mobility is the key trend of the four cited earlier, he claimed, because it has been the issue that's forced IT to change its working practices because of the bring your own device trend.
"There was a paternalistic approach to IT in the past where you were given devices and told what to do and not to do and that was it. Now, though, CIOs tell me they want to support employees on any device, operating system and location," he said.
Any conversation around mobile involving Google will see Android mentioned and Davies was quick to point to the huge numbers of activations, now at 1.3 million a day, as evidence of its success.
Davies acknowledged the security issues with Android but said this was not stopping firms letting staff use the device.
"Malware on Android, it's something we know about, obviously, and it's not as if it's something we're not working on. But we think the opportunity for people to work on any device, on any operating systems remains."
He also touted the recent Chromebook from Samsung as another example of Google's push to meet the needs of enterprises, saying the firm was hoping to entice users away from rival devices - essentially Windows machines - with the product.
"It's stateless, secure and costs £229, around 70 percent cheaper than other existing desktop devices, but it's still a really high-end device."
Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told V3 that interest in the devices is growing and at the firm's recent Symposium event there were discussions around the Chromebook devices with pricing a key factor.
"Education seems very interested in Chromebooks and the prices are certainly interesting," she said, although she noted other sectors are not quite as taken as yet.
"I have not heard anything more than that though, aside from the attractive proposition of leaving Office licensing agreements to the side," she added.
Given Google's desire to make this a core part of its future business strategy and its success in other areas to date, it could well be the case the Chrome OS joins iOS and Windows 8 as a business platform.
This may not happen overnight, but given Google's rapid growth over just 14 years, it may not be that far in the future either.