Cloud computing has increased the pace of technology innovation, the rate of technology adoption and the volume of data in the world. But how did we get here, and where will we go next?
Here are four people who will help make those decisions. All four have shaped cloud’s present and will likely have a major impact on its future:
Diane Greene: Growing Google’s reputation as a serious cloud player
In 2015, Google had just 4% of the cloud market share, according to Synergy Research. The company was well behind Amazon Web Services, which had 31% of the market, and trailing both Microsoft Azure and IBM, which each had 9% and 7% of the market, respectively.
But last November, Google hired Diane Greene, formerly the co-founder and CEO of VMware, to serve as the company’s head of cloud computing. Though she hasn’t been there long, Greene has already made an impact while working to shift the perception of Google’s cloud business.
Until now, Google has struggled to make headway with major enterprise clients when it comes to cloud. But in Q1 it managed to secure several major deals, including pacts with both Apple and Spotify—companies that previously relied exclusively on AWS for cloud services.
In March, Home Depot said it will move some of its data to Google's cloud as well, while Disney Consumer Products Interactive Media and Coca Cola also said they were coming onboard.
The company also made a slew of announcements at its Cloud Platform Next conference in San Francisco. For example, Google launched new artificial intelligence-based tools and products for its cloud platform. The tools will allow data scientists and developers to build intelligent applications and employ deep learning techniques.
Greene spent time at the conference arguing that Google's cloud platform is ready to compete with cloud industry leaders. She believes customers will choose Google because of the cloud platform's value, risk reduction and innovation.
Many attribute Google’s growing success in cloud to Greene, who has extensive experience working with corporate clients—perhaps just what Google needs to take a larger share of the cloud market.
Nick Earle: Finding Cisco’s niche in the cloud
In order to survive in today’s changing tech landscape, Cisco—a company rooted in hardware and one-time purchase sales models—has had to evolve. Over the past several years, Cisco has worked to pivot to cloud infrastructure and other subscription-based business models.
Nick Earle, senior vice president, Global Cloud, has been leading the charge to the cloud for Cisco. In doing so, Earle has had to walk a fine line between disrupting competitors who already work in the cloud without upsetting longtime, revenue-generating customers.
Earle believes that there needs to be a radically different way of creating, deploying and managing secure enterprise applications in the cloud, and that Cisco’s cloud solutions portfolio will enable customers and partners to take advantage of the significant new opportunities that this evolution presents.
Overall, Earle’s strategy is about unifying clouds through software and breaking down data silos.
"We're not building our own data centers to compete," Earle said at the NexGen conference last December. "We're going to connect the clouds."
Rob Mee: Nurturing a major cloud disruptor
San Francisco-based Pivotal has been making a splash in the tech world, accelerated in part by Rob Mee, one of the original founders of the company, taking over as CEO last summer.
The company, which was originally a spinoff of EMC and VMware, created a cloud native platform that is "optimized for change so enterprises can move at start-up speeds and with greater business agility."
In other words, Pivotal helps companies quickly build and operate software so they can deliver new experiences to their customers.
So far, it seems to be working. Recent Series C financing raised $253 million in new cash for the company, led by Ford Motor Company and Microsoft. GE, EMC and VMware have also invested in the company. Pivotal said its first quarter revenue was $83 million, up 56% year-over year.
The three-year-old company now works with seven of the top 10 U.S. banks, three of the top five global auto manufacturers and five of the top 10 telecommunication companies, according to the company’s website.
Pivotal already looked to be a major disruptor in cloud, but the new funding may amplify those efforts even further.
"This investment will accelerate our global reach to bring our unique software development methodology and modern cloud platform and analytics tools to every forward-thinking CEO," said Mee in a statement about the new financing last week.
Pivotal’s relationship with Ford is particularly interesting. The two companies could lead the way as car companies seek to become mobility providers. Ford and Pivotal recently launched FordPass—the first project to emerge from their collaboration. Ford CEO Mark Fields said he hopes FordPass will do for car ownership what iTunes did for music appreciation.
Andy Jassy: Building the world’s biggest cloud provider
In April, Amazon announced the promotion of Andy Jassy to CEO of Amazon Web Services. The promotion seems well-deserved, as Jassy has scaled the now 10-year-old company over the last couple of years to the point where it generated nearly $2.5 billion in the first quarter of 2016. That’s up 64% from the first quarter of 2015.
Jassy recently said the concept of AWS was "sort of stumbled upon while seeking to solve a recurring need, namely faster technology deployment," according to a feature about him in Fortune.
The idea eventually led to an "entirely new and game-changing approach to technology development, which involved decoupling services."
Whatever Jassy and AWS are doing to dominate the cloud market, it’s clearly working.
In total, AWS is currently the most profitable business unit at Amazon. AWS was responsible for 56% of the entire company’s profit in Q1.