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Google is aiming to steal Amazon cloud customers in the media industry

  • Google landed a coveted keynote spot at the NAB show in Las Vegas.
  • AWS has a massive lead, but Google is making its pitch to media industry executives.
Larry Page
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Larry Page

Alphabet's effort to catch Amazon's cloud is taking center stage at one of the media industry's biggest conferences of the year.

Tariq Shaukat, a president in Google's cloud division, is among the keynote speakers at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas on Monday. His aim is to give the media and entertainment industry a taste of the type of projects they can run in Google's massive data centers, taking advantage of the size and sophistication of the world's largest internet company.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC.com prior to the event, Shaukat said the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) can help media businesses move faster at a lower cost, personalize their messages and increase their revenue.

As in every industry it's attacking, GCP faces a tall task with the biggest media companies. Amazon Web Services (AWS) ran off to about a seven-year head start and has dominant market share over its top challengers, Microsoft, Google and IBM.

"This is one of the top verticals we're investing in," Shaukat said.

Within media in particular, Google is touting a product called Zync that enables high-speed rendering of projects that are bandwidth intensive. From animated TV shows to virtual reality content, teams of artists and designers can turn to Google's cloud to quickly and affordably get their work into production.

Such businesses can still use AWS for their data storage and server needs, while turning to GCP for specific projects, even as Google is competing for the other stuff.

"We're finding that almost without exception every customer we have is a multi-cloud customer," Shaukat said.

AWS, as the market leader, doesn't talk much about a multi-cloud world. Rather, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said at a summit last week that clients are running more of their workloads in Amazon because developer teams don't want to learn multiple systems and code bases. And the more work they do in AWS, the more they can take advantage of volume discounts, he said.

Google has notched some high-profile media wins. Snap said in its IPO prospectus earlier this year that it's spending $400 million a year with GCP, twice as much as its average annual AWS outlay.

Spotify announced last year that it was exiting its own data centers in favor of Google's. Spotify's online and mobile music service requires some of the magic that makes Google's search engine work: speed and personalization.

"The focus on personalization is hugely important to customers we're talking to," Shaukat said.

In addition to its ability to quickly make recommendations for customers, Google's big data and machine learning tools are also helping businesses in need of speech-to-text services, image recognition and video search, Shaukat said.

Media companies at NAB will be able to hear competing messages from Amazon. The conference features a session on securing content in the AWS cloud and another on how Discovery Communications uses AWS to support hundreds of channels across the globe.