Cloud

Twitter chooses Google Cloud: What it means for enterprise cloud adoption

Twitter isn't a mainstream enterprise, and that may be precisely why its decision to move cold storage and Hadoop clusters to Google Cloud is significant.

Depending on your view, Twitter's decision to adopt Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for cold storage and Hadoop clusters is either anomalous or prophetic.

Whichever you choose, however, Juan Lage is right: It's a "success for Google Cloud however your read it."

Twitter is not like me...

An easy way to dismiss Google's high-profile customer win is to suggest, as I was once prone to do, that Google can win over Silicon Valley companies, but its hit rate with mainstream enterprises remains low. Unpack that reasoning, however, and it sort of sounds like this: Yes, Google can win over the elites of tech, but it fails with more pedestrian use cases.

Which is sort of a weird criticism, if you think about it for more than a nanosecond.

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Google has mostly steered clear of marketing its cloud as a place where mainstream enterprises can access technology that allows them to run like Google. This, in my view, is a mistake. Yes, Google runs workloads that are significantly more demanding than most enterprises do today and, yes, Google doesn't want to scare off enterprises that are still trying to figure out how to get to containers, much less scale like Google. But all marketing is essentially aspirational, and Google has a good story for enterprises that want to be a little less like themselves, and a little more like Google.

Winning Twitter's business is a signal to the world: If Google can handle Twitter's workloads, it can also manage yours.

...But I'd like to be more like Twitter

Though Twitter's use of Google Cloud is somewhat limited (to cold storage and Hadoop clusters, though the latter include a whopping 300 petabytes of data), it's unlikely to be the end of its adoption. It's worth remembering what prompted Spotify to move to Google Cloud, according to its press release:

What really tipped the scales towards Google for us, however, has been our experience with Google's data platform and tools. Good infrastructure isn't just about keeping things up and running, it's about making all of our teams more efficient and more effective, and Google's data stack does that for us in spades....From traditional batch processing with Dataproc, to rock-solid event delivery with Pub/Sub to the nearly magical abilities of BigQuery, building on Google's data infrastructure provides us with a significant advantage where it matters the most.

SEE: Cloud providers ranking 2018: How AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Oracle, Alibaba stack up (ZDNet)

In Spotify's case, moving from its data centers to Google Cloud was a matter of data. According to Twitter's blog post, the jump to Google Cloud derives from similar reasons:

This migration, when complete, will enable faster capacity provisioning; increased flexibility; access to a broader ecosystem of tools and services; improvements to security; and enhanced disaster recovery capabilities. Architecturally, we will also be able to separate compute and storage for this class of Hadoop workloads, which has a number of long-term scaling and operational benefits.

Twitter's Hadoop clusters are the core of its data platform and, hence, the core of what makes Twitter, Twitter. Gaining flexibility advantages through Google's cloud is a signal to all those companies with less than 300 petabytes of data (and that's most of them) that Google stands ready to receive them, and to help them achieve similar improvements in flexibility.

So, yes, Google Cloud winning over Twitter isn't necessarily germane to most Fortune 500 enterprises' current businesses, but it's hugely relevant to what each of them wants to become.

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Image: iStockphoto/phototechno

About Matt Asay

Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.

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