Sports Authority chooses Google's cloud, proving Google has got a chance against Amazon

Sports authority kiosk googleGoogleThe Google-powered in-store kiosks at Sports Authority stores.

Today, Google put the spotlight on its cloud computing deal with American sporting goods retailer Sports Authority — boasting that with the Google Cloud Platform, Sports Authority can handle 2,000 transactions per second.

It’s no coincidence that Google is shouting this deal from the rooftops: In the ongoing cloud computing war with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, Google is seen as lagging in appeal to the crucial and lucrative enterprise market. With deals like this one with Sports Authority, Google is trying to dispel that idea.

For Sports Authority, the mission, says an official blog entry, was to let customers see if their desired items were in stock at their local Sports Authority store.

Getting there was difficult, says an official blog entry, because much of its in-store inventory data was locked up in old-school IBM mainframe servers. That architecture is too rickety and unwieldy to serve up lots of product information quickly.

But over the span of five months, starting in 2014, Sports Authority and “three or four talented developers” were able to build out a real-time inventory tracking system that took the data from those mainframes and pushed it up into the Google Cloud Plaftorm.

Sports authority googleGoogleSports Authority’s intra-store portal, powered by Google.

Later, Sports Authority was able to hook that same inventory system up to in-store kiosks running on lightweight Google Chromebox PCs. And a similar Google-powered service was put into place to help employees at the stores communicate their inventory levels and tasks with each other and the corporate offices.

Ultimately, Google chose to spotlight this deal because these are all problems often encountered by the largest enterprises as they look to moving into cloud computing.

Big companies like the additional speed and sometimes cost benefits they can get from cloud platforms like Google’s, but at the same time, they can’t or won’t abandon the investments they have already made in servers and software, like Sports Authority’s mainframes.

So showing that Google Cloud Platform can accommodate their needs goes a long way towards closing a perceptual gap with the leading Amazon Web Services. Given that Google apparently thinks that its cloud revenue can surpass advertising revenue by 2020, it’s an important step.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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