While Google has been running the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for years now, they haven't really been on the enterprise radar, especially from a Windows perspective. They've recently talked about an increased enterprise focus, and though it's not prominently-featured, they've built up solutions around Windows.
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Looking at Google's own messaging, it's clear that they don't count Windows desktops among their offerings, choosing instead to focus on Windows server-based workloads like SQL or .NET applications built to take advantage of the GCP ecosystem, which includes things like big data, containers, storage, identity, and machine learning. That's not stopping others from using it for desktops, though.
Thus far, the only platform I'm aware of that can deliver Windows desktops from GCP is Chromotif, which we featured in a Friday Notebook back in August. Chromotif works on GCP, AWS, and Azure, but they don't specifically care which one you use. They are focused on Chromebooks and use the Chrome Remote Desktop protocol, and since they're have a good relationship with Google, GCP is a natural fit for them.
Other companies have expressed interest or announced partnerships with Google, too. For example, the partnership between Teradici and Google was featured at Google Cloud Next back in March. At the event, Google demonstrated running 3D-enabled workloads via Teradici's Cloud Access Software platform.
Citrix and Google both announced a partnership that would extend Citrix Cloud to support GCP in addition to other features like ShareFile integration with G-Suite and NetScaler CPX support. We're supposed to know more about this in the Summit timeframe, so expect to see more news in early January.
The other company that I'm aware of with GCP support on their roadmap is Frame, though I don't think they've put any specific plans into action. Currently, they're busy transitioning to a more enterprise-focused platform that can run on AWS and Azure (they spent their early years running exclusively on AWS). Frame, of course, has made waves lately by establishing a partnership with VMware to add Windows desktops and applications to Workspace ONE and, most notably, by drumming up a $16M investment round led by Microsoft. With that in mind, you'd have to think GCP support is near the bottom of the list of things to do for the time being.
So, would Google build their own?
In a way this goes back to the question I asked a few months ago: Which goes to the cloud first–Desktops or Servers? If Google is of the opinion that bringing in desktop users builds gravity that attracts server workloads, they may choose build their own platform. On the other hand, it's entirely reasonable to think that Google is content to lean on partners for Windows desktop-based solutions.
If Google wanted to get into the Windows desktop business without building a platform from scratch, they could acquire one of the companies I mentioned above. In addition to becoming an instant cloud-based desktop offering (I'll stop short of calling it DaaS, but it certainly could go that far), acquiring the right company would also bring with it loads of potential customers.
It would have to be the right company, though. Frame and Chromotif are probably not options since neither of them have a large enterprise customer-base right now. Teradici, while experienced in the cloud, also likely doesn't bring in a lot of customers that would make it worth Google's time.
From the companies I mentioned, that leaves Citrix, but I'm not saying an acquisition is likely. The Google-Citrix partnership announcement came out around the same time as one of the "Citrix is up for sale" flare-ups, and there were a few conversations among peers that Google might be a candidate to acquire Citrix. The reality is that, while they certainly could, Google would also be taking on all the on-premises Citrix customers, which is a decidedly un-Google thing. Of course, Citrix has a huge number of customers, but it's not like Google doesn't already have access to them in other ways.
So, to answer my own question, I think Google would prefer to lean on the offerings of others rather than create a DaaS platform of their own. Companies like Citrix and Teradici have been enterprise-focused for a long time, while Frame has been gaining a lot of attention lately (though mostly due to the investment Microsoft made with them as well as their partnership with VMware). Add in Chromotif, and that makes four companies with four different remoting protocols and on-boarding workflows that give customers that want to use Google Cloud Platform a lot of choices if they want to use it for cloud-based desktops.
I suspect that Google looks at Windows desktops as "legacy" (a la VMware 2009), so if you factor that into the equation, too, I think there's less of a chance that Google builds their own DaaS platform. That won't stop Citrix, Teradici, Frame, Chromotif, and certainly others from building something on top of GCP, though.