Though the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) isn't as large and doesn't get as much publicity as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, it's quickly putting its larger rivals on notice with a series of impressive customer wins. And the big investments Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report is making in GCP should yield additional big deals in the coming months.
CNBC reported on Tuesday morning Google is "the front-runner" to land PayPal (PYPL) - Get Report as a cloud infrastructure client. The online payments giants currently relies heavily on its own infrastructure, but has tapped AWS to provide services for its Braintree and Venmo units.
The report comes five months after it was learned Apple has begun using GCP to help power iCloud services -- Apple's cloud services also rely on AWS and Azure, as well as the company's own infrastructure. Not long before that, Spotify announced it's migrating its infrastructure to GCP. Other big Google cloud clients include Snapchat, Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report and (thanks to the fact the company is a Google spinoff) Pokémon Go developer Niantic.
PayPal's size alone would make it one of Google's most impressive cloud wins -- the company handled $86.2 billion worth of transactions in the second quarter (up 29% annually), and claimed 188 million active customer accounts.
However, PayPal's stringent performance, reliability and security needs would make it an especially valuable client to show off, particularly when chasing financial services deals. If a $500 purchase isn't processed quickly and securely, it's a much bigger deal than if a video stream needs a few extra seconds of buffering.
GCP has been receiving high marks for the performance of its core infrastructure services, and the fact it can leverage Google's global data center and fiber infrastructure helps keep costs down. Also, as recently noted by research firm Gartner, Google's innovative machine learning and analytics services are often a draw.
And given how driven Google has been to grow GCP under new cloud chief/VMware co-founder Diane Greene, the company might be pricing aggressively to win PayPal's business.
Under Greene, Google has committed to launching 12 new cloud data centers by the end of 2017, as well as significantly upping the sales and marketing spend committed to GCP. The company also recently bought Orbitera, provider of a platform that makes it easier to buy and sell cloud software, for a reported $100 million-plus.
Unlike Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report with AWS, Alphabet doesn't break out GCP's revenue by itself. However, the platform's growth helped Alphabet's "Google other" reporting segment, which also includes Google Play and Nexus hardware revenue, rise 33% annually in the second quarter to $2.2 billion. That's a notable improvement from the 24% growth recorded in the first quarter.
Amazon and Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report still claim larger public cloud feature sets than Google. And the former has developed a massive software ecosystem through its AWS Marketplace that no cloud rival can currently match.
Nonetheless, with each passing month, more news seems to arrive that shows Google is rapidly making up for a slow start, and is now also a big-league public cloud player.