Google just bought a small startup to catch up with Microsoft in the cloud wars

Google Diane GreeneGoogleGoogle cloud boss Diane Greene

Google just announced the acquisition of Orbitera, a startup that helps other startups sell their software to businesses, almost like an app store for the enterprise.

Now, Orbitera will join Google Cloud Platform, the search advertising giant’s cloud computing platform, where businesses can rent access to fundamentally unlimited computing power.

It’s a big move for Google as it tries to overtake Microsoft’s Azure for the #2 spot in the ongoing war for cloud computing supremacy. Amazon Web Services remains #1 with a bullet, but Google sees a shrinking gap.

Adding the Orbitera tech to the platform will make it easier for Google’s cloud customers to buy and install databases, security software, networking tools, and other products that developers need to make their apps hum along smoothly. Just like the app store on your phone, the idea is to make this software easy to buy and painless to get running.

This move comes just weeks after Microsoft launched AppSource, a similar kind of as-you-go store for IT services and software, tying into its Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure cloud platforms. It takes advantage of Microsoft’s existing relationships with business software developers to similar ends.

The model kills two birds with one stone, for both Google and Microsoft: It attracts developers to their platform, since it simplifies the process of identifying their customers, while also making it easier for those customers to find that software.

For Google, which has been redoubling its enterprise cloud efforts under new boss Diane Greene, it’s a big step forward.

Intriguingly, though, Google says that Orbitera will not only remain operational, it’s going to stay platform-neutral, meaning that you’ll still be able to use it to buy and sell software on Google’s cloud, and Microsoft’s, and Amazon’s, and whoever else.

“This acquisition will not only improve the support of software vendors on Google Cloud Platform, but reinforces Google’s support for the multi-cloud world,” Google writes in the official blog entry.

It’s an implicit recognition on Google’s part that lots of customers aren’t only using Google Cloud Platformthey’re deploying some apps on Amazon Web Services, some on Microsoft Azure, and some in their own data centres. Google doesn’t want to own the whole world, just grow its customer base where and however it can.

Orbitera had raised $2 million in seed funding as of June, 2015. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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