Google Cloud’s Gareth Morgan: ‘This is a $1trn global opportunity’

29 Jun 2018

Gareth Morgan, vice-president, Google Cloud Inside Sales. Image: Google

Google Cloud’s Gareth Morgan says the company’s Dublin team is working with CEOs and CIOs from all over the world to tap into Google’s 20 years’ worth of internet expertise to build for the future.

Gareth Morgan is vice-president of Google Cloud, Inside Sales. Prior to this he held a variety of leadership positions at Google spanning global customer experience, advertiser services EMEA and global ad operations.

Before joining Google in 2010, Morgan worked with McKinsey and Ernst & Young. He qualified as a chartered accountant and undertook an MBA at University of Western Ontario, Canada.

‘Across the globe, and in EMEA particularly, every member of a board of directors or the C-suite has cloud on their minds’

Earlier this year, Google officially opened the 51,000 sq ft Velasco building on the corner of Grand Canal Street and Clanwilliam Place in Dublin. This was followed recently by the news that Google completed the acquisition of the iconic Bolands Quay site in Dublin’s Silicon Docks.

Google recently surpassed 7,000 employees in Dublin and is hurtling towards 8,000 people across a variety of roles from ad operations to data centres and the cloud.

We recently reported that Google is also expanding its data centre infrastructure in Ireland as part of a €150m investment that will create 400 jobs at peak construction.

From left: Gareth Morgan, vice-president of Google Cloud sales; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD; and Fionnuala Meehan, vice-president and head of Google in Dublin. Image: Robbie Reynolds

From left: Gareth Morgan, vice-president of Google Cloud Inside Sales; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD; and Fionnuala Meehan, vice-president and head of Google in Dublin. Image: Robbie Reynolds

The Velasco building serves as a home to Google’s growing enterprise and cloud teams in Dublin. The teams will play a strategic role in helping to grow Google’s cloud and enterprise business across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Velasco is home to an Advanced Solutions Lab where Google Cloud’s enterprise customers can co-create and develop customised solutions for their business on-site in conjunction with Google Cloud experts.

In the cloud market, you are competing against Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. How does Google Cloud differentiate itself from these competitors?

Google is a business that was born on the cloud before we got to Dublin, and we now are running seven cloud products with more than 1bn users each, which obviously requires a huge footprint globally in terms of data centres and the networks that are required to support that. And, really, Google Cloud is just opening up that cloud technology expertise and that Google magic we’ve developed over the last 20 years to the broader business world, especially to developers and organisations around the world. Obviously, it makes a lot of sense for us and is a natural extension. But we have a lot of work to do.

It is the biggest business opportunity I have ever seen in my business career. Even on the ads side of the business. It didn’t feel like this because we were building it as we were going and were category leaders. We didn’t realise at the time that we had a $100bn-plus ads business on our hands.

On the cloud side, this is a $1trn-plus global opportunity that is coming at us very fast and we are all very excited about the opportunities that come with that.

As well as the recent data centre expansion, what role is Dublin playing in this cloud revolution?

We have a huge engineering presence on the cloud side in Dublin, particularly with our system reliability engineers who are the folks that make sure that everything works, not just for our cloud customers but obviously for our internal Google customers as well.

I recently found out that the building that we are in (the Velasco Building) used to be the old Rolls-Royce building in Dublin, which also has a heritage of engineering excellence that we look forward to building on. Engineering is a huge part of it and building the business is what I am particularly interested in.

In Dublin we obviously do a lot of work on the ads side of the business with CEOs, CMOs, CIOs and CTOs coming here, and it is a great way for us to leverage those existing customer relationships. Across the globe, and in EMEA particularly, every member of a board of directors or the C-suite has cloud on their minds. They are asking what they can do on their cloud journey, whether that is from a security perspective or the opportunities that come with machine learning and AI. Whether or not they are a business that is being disruptive, everybody has this top of mind.

In the narrative of the history of computing, where do you think we are at with the cloud?

It has been a fantastic journey over the last 20 years for Google and that has been huge, but what we are about to see is going to dwarf all of that.

This is the biggest technology change that we have ever seen. The impact of the cloud and, particularly what it allows us to do with machine learning and artificial intelligence, is going to be bigger than the internet and the arrival of mobile phones or smartphones – and we are just at the beginning of that journey. Even in the last 12 to 18 months, it is striking how those conversations have gone, in many cases, from conceptual discussions to real businesses now doing real things and delivering real business value through machine learning and AI.

It has been great for Dublin. We have set up our EMEA Advanced Solutions Lab, a facility we have to allow customers to come and learn about things like machine learning but also to co-create with us in a very tangible way to solve business problems. It can only be exponential because we are only at the start of it.

When it comes to digital transformation, what advice would you give to CEOs and CIOs who want to be more like Google and get the best out of the cloud?

The first one is just on modernising IT infrastructure and the move to the cloud, which I see being a combination of organisations like Google doing what they do well and that freeing up companies to focus on the areas that will differentiate them.

There is also a huge security component to that. We are big believers that cloud is the most secure approach and that Google has the most secure cloud. And so we are seeing lots of advantages come from that as well as cost advantages, which are of course important for CIOs and CEOs.

IT modernisation is a big theme. What that also does is it allows organisations to start getting the best out of their data. We see in organisations that data is very siloed and when you start putting it on the cloud and connecting with our data analytics products you can start to get benefits from that. And then when you layer on top of that the power of our machine learning and AI tech we are seeing incredibly powerful things emerge from that.

A big part of what we’ve been doing has been just making it easier to use the machine learning tools. We launched Cloud AutoML, which allows companies that don’t have the in-house expertise required to build learning models to get the benefits of machine learning. It is a real democratisation of AI.

Whether you are a disrupter and you are looking to get to market faster or you are a business in a vertical that is being disrupted, speed is something that we see as being top of mind for CIOs and CEOs.

What does the typical Google Cloud business customer look like?

It is the full spectrum. We have a lot of digital natives and start-ups as well as larger enterprises. A lot of our work is unblocking any blockages.

We are in great shape and starting to see a lot of big enterprise deals coming through. A good example would be Airbus and also banks like HSBC and so it is becoming increasingly popular at the top end of the enterprise segment.

We believe we have the best technology and the best engineers and we are very focused on bringing that to our customers and helping them to deliver business value from the expertise we have developed over the last 20 years.

What is it about Dublin that made it suitable for Google to expand its cloud business?

We find Dublin to be a benefit to Google Cloud in the same way as it has been for the rest of the business. We have fantastic access to great talent in Ireland and across the EMEA region and we have been able to build that hub. For the cloud business we have been able to leverage all the relationships and the talent we have in Dublin.

From a personal point of view, it has been lovely to perform global roles from Dublin. We are in the centre of the time zones and we have travel links including direct flights to San Francisco. It has been a great place to do business from, globally.

Obviously, Google is very committed to Dublin and Ireland has been good to us as well. There is a long way to go on that relationship.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years