Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Sunday, July 5, 2020
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Google Buys Cloud Software Startup 

In an attempt to keep pace with its cloud rivals, Google has acquired a cloud enterprise services startup and its platform for buying and selling enterprise software in the cloud.

Orbitera's platform helps independent software vendors and systems integrators distribute services on the cloud. At the time the acquisition was announced, the Los Angeles-based startup listed itself as a member of the Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) partner network.

(Orbitera CEO Marcin Kurc held several executive positions at AWS before launching the cloud software startup.)

Terms of Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL) acquisition of Orbitera were not disclosed, but reports peg the sale price at more than $100 million.

The acquisition bolsters the Google Cloud Platform amid stiff completion among AWS, Microsoft Azure (NASDAQ: MSFT) and others to deliver enterprise services. Google noted in announcing the deal that more than 60,000 enterprise stacks have been launched on Orbitera's platform, including Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE), Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) and NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP). Orbitera's customers resell those cloud services to their enterprise clients.

"The current model for the deploying, managing and billing of cloud-based software does not easily fit the way today’s modern enterprises operate," noted Nan Boden, Google's head of global technology partners. "Orbitera automates many of the processes associated with billing, packaging and pricing optimization for leading businesses and [independent software vendors] supporting customers running in the cloud."

Along with improving support for enterprise software vendors on the Google Cloud Platform, the search giant asserted the Orbitera deal "reinforces Google’s support for the multi-cloud world" and it would maintain "Orbitera’s neutrality as a platform supporting multi-cloud commerce."

That assertion drew skepticism from observers who noted the dominance of competing public cloud vendors AWS and Microsoft. Said one, "Does anyone realistically believe Google buying a multi-cloud platform will be 'committed to maintaining Orbitera's neutrality in as a platform supporting multi-cloud commerce'?"

Nevertheless, Boden said Google recognizes "that both enterprise customers and [independent software vendors] want to be able to use more than one cloud provider and have a way to conduct product trials and proofs of concept before building a full production deployment, all using their trusted [system integrators], resellers and normal sales cycles.

The Orbitera acquisition highlights Google's continuing struggles to keep pace in the highly competitive market to deliver cloud infrastructure as a service. According to the latest Gartner cloud rankings released earlier this month, AWS is maintaining its market dominance along with Microsoft Azure. Google is ranked a distant third followed by "niche players" such as Rackspace (NYSE: RAX) and IBM's (NYSE: IBM) SoftLayer cloud unit.

The Gartner rankings are based on public cloud vendors' "ability of execute" and "completeness of vision."

The Orbitera deal could boost Google fortunes on both fronts. "The Google Cloud Platform team shares our vision for seamless purchase and deployment of IT services across heterogeneous cloud infrastructure," Orbitera executives noted in a statement announcing the deal.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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