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Google Cloud Scoops Up Ex-SAP Exec for Customer Role

The newbie takes his new post just two weeks after leaving the enterprise software provider.

Jeffrey Burt

April 18, 2019

4 Min Read
New Hire
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Google Cloud Platform CEO Thomas Kurian has been vocal in his several months on the job that attracting more enterprise customers to the world’s third-largest public cloud provider is a priority, and he took another step in that direction with the hiring of longtime SAP veteran Robert Enslin to head up customer operations.

In a blog, Kurian noted Enslin’s 27 years with SAP, a major enterprise software provider that like other companies is making a hard push into the cloud, and his international experience as key factors in naming Enslin president of global customer operations. The hiring comes about about two weeks after SAP announced Enslin was leaving the company, spending the last two years there as president of its cloud business group and a member of the executive board.

“Rob’s expertise in building and running organizations globally, business acumen and deep customer and partner relationships make him a perfect fit for this crucial role,” Kurian wrote, adding that Enslin’s international experience includes working in South Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as the United States. “This global perspective will be invaluable as we expand Google Cloud into established industries and growth markets around the world.”

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Google Cloud’s Rob Enslin

Enslin, who will start his new job April 22, will replace Paul-Henri Ferrand, who held the position at Google Cloud for almost two years. Kurian said Ferrand is moving to another undefined position within Google.

Google Cloud stands in third behind Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure in a global public cloud market that will grow to $214.3 billion this year, according to Gartner analysts. Since being named to head Google’s cloud business, Kurian – who spent more than two decades at Oracle – has talked about being more aggressive in courting enterprise customers and accelerating growth, including through such efforts as expanding the company’s sales force. In February, Google Cloud bought Alooma, a startup whose technology is designed to help companies more easily move their businesses to the cloud.

During the recent Google Cloud Next 2019 show, Kurian made other promises.

“During the keynote, we spoke about our commitment to expand and strengthen our customer-facing organization to better help our customers with their cloud transformations,” he wrote in the blog. “We have a tremendous opportunity to help companies in every industry modernize as we embark on this next phase of growth for Google Cloud.”

Dana Berg, chief operating officer of Google Cloud managed cloud services partner SADA Systems, applauded Enslin’s hiring.

“Robert Enslin has an incredible track record guiding large enterprises in the use of public cloud technology,” Berg told Channel Futures. “SADA and the rest of the Google Cloud ecosystem will benefit greatly from his leadership and experience.”

SADA, a longtime Microsoft services partner, last month sold its Microsoft business and went all in on Google Cloud after seeing its Google business grow so quickly, company officials told Channel Futures at Google Cloud Next. Based on its growth in offering Google Cloud services, the cloud provider named SADA its 2018 Global Partner of the Year.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told us that Google Cloud’s push for more enterprise customers is …

… a “sensible move strategically and economically since enterprises represent a business opportunity with enormous potential for Google. It also highlights the fact that there’s more to being and becoming regarded as an enterprise-class organization than meets the eye. A few cloud players (IBM, Oracle and SAP) have achieved that by design, while others (including Microsoft) have succeeded in leveraging enterprise products/packages into broader cloud engagements.”

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Pund-IT’s Charles King

Bringing Enslin on board also was a good move, the analyst said.

“You need someone that knows both the technology and the specific needs of enterprises,” King said. “It’s also a huge plus to find someone who personally knows the customers you hope to engage. Both Enslin and Kurian hit that particular trifecta.”

Having executives from both Oracle and SAP in its ranks indicates that Google Cloud will not be focused on any single tech vendor’s platform or solutions portfolio, he said, adding that “Google should be prepared to go where customers need them most.”

Enslin’s departure from SAP was the latest of a series of such moves by the enterprise software giant, part of a restructuring designed to accelerate SAP’s transformation into a more digital platform vendor. Among the departures was Bjoern Goerke, who spent the last two years as CTO and president of SAP’s cloud platform unit.

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