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Google nabs giant new partner in cloud battle with Amazon

Google Cloud chief Diane Greene speaking on September 29, 2016
Ari Levy | CNBC
Google Cloud chief Diane Greene speaking on September 29, 2016

Google, in its bid to challenge Amazon.com's dominance in the cloud, has enlisted a big partner: Intel.

It's been a splashy year for Google's cloud platform, following the hiring of VMware co-founder Diane Greene last November to run the business. In addition to aggressive pricing and a big rebranding effort, Greene's strategy to chase down Amazon Web Services has centered around partnerships with key players in the business world.

On Thursday, Google and Intel said they're working together on technology to help enterprises securely move data to the cloud. By linking up with Intel, Google is following through on its plan to lure businesses that have been reluctant to embrace the cloud. Customers don't have to think about it as a wholesale shift, but rather can count on an existing vendor — Intel — to help guide them.

Despite Google's advances, AWS still controls the market. According to Synergy Research Group, AWS' share of the cloud infrastructure market sits at 45 percent, while Microsoft, Google and IBM have less than 20 percent combined. At the end of the second quarter, Google had only 5 percent of the market, according to Synergy.

And while virtually all emerging companies and new applications are being developed in the cloud, only 41 percent of all enterprise workloads are running in a public or private cloud, according to 451 Research, with the rest still sitting in data centers on premises. By mid-2018, that number will be up to 60 percent.

In teaming up with Intel, whose chips power traditional servers, Google can layer in software that simplifies the process of migrating data from their own machines into the cloud and back as needed. Google's homegrown Kubernetes technology allows developers to package information in virtual containers to make it movable and accessible from more places and a multitude of devices.

"You just can't pick up and move every workload," said Nan Boden, head of global alliances at the newly branded Google Cloud, in an interview. "You have to come up with an architecture that makes it practical for these companies to be able to take advantage of these new technologies in the cloud and new economics in the cloud."

Revenue from public cloud services, including software and infrastructure, is expected to more than double to $195 billion by 2020 from $96.5 billion this year, according to IDC.

Google Cloud previously partnered with Autodesk on technology for entertainment companies to quickly render 3-D images and with Okta to help businesses securely deploy Google Apps. In an interview with CNBC.com in May, Greene said that she's "super partner-oriented."

Google and Intel aren't disclosing if there's a revenue split in the products they're developing. Raejeanne Skillern, vice president of Intel's data center group, said the partnership is focused on serving clients' needs and creating technology that's secure and accessible.

In addition to Kubernetes, another Google product that Skillern is excited about is TensorFlow, software that brings machine learning tools into more applications.

"This is definitely groundbreaking for our work with Google," Skillern said.