Will Google Escape Amazon’s Shadow?

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is cleaning up its cloud computing act to close the gap with rival Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), which has stolen the march in the field.

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Amazon Web Services, the arm that offers Amazon’s cloud services, has been in the game for six years and boasts a clientele of hundreds of thousands of companies across almost 200 countries. It has already chalked up almost $1 billion in revenues, and according to a survey by Forrester Research Inc., the percentage of companies planning to use its service climbed to 44 percent last year from 35 percent in 2010. Almost 90 percent of startups prefer to use AWS, according to George Zachary, a partner at Charles River Ventures in Menlo Park, California.

Google is now planning to change all that, and according to Zachary, though “Amazon is just running away with the game right now,” Google has “plenty of technology and incredible scale. They just have to execute.” Google’s Amit Singh, vice president of enterprise agrees: “We missed it — we have to get better.”

Google is now going full-steam ahead on hiring more engineers and salespeople, ramping up marketing and providing better features to its service, including faster speeds, more storage, and lower costs. With the company already having data centers around the world that support its search and advertising business, the hardware aspect should not really be a problem.

Yet it’s on software that Amazon scores. Google offers only a limited number of languages to programmers, and has tight controls on the operating system and security. Amazon is far more flexible, and therefore more appealing to startups. “What we’ve gotten is an enormous amount of experience in understanding what it takes to run someone else’s application,” says D’Alesandre, project manager for App Engine, Google’s cloud service. “That’s where we want to focus, and that’s what we want to be really good at.”

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