Google touts itself as having the best technology for sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence workloads. The company also created the Kubernetes technology for virtual containers, which enables developers to easily move around code between machines and clouds.
But when it comes to the big storage and core computing contracts, numerous industry experts, venture capitalists and tech executives alike told CNBC that Google's sales team is ineffective, preferring to sell what it thinks is best rather than what customers say they need.
"You don't get paid to be right, you get paid to sell what the customer wants to buy," said Mackey Craven, a partner at venture firm OpenView Venture Partners in Boston who focuses on enterprise start-ups.
Bloom said that Kurian may have an advantage over Greene because his work at Oracle has spanned the technology stack, from the data center and hardware all the way up to application software. That's important at Google, because the company's cloud group includes cloud infrastructure as well as applications like email, word processing and spreadsheets. Greene, by contrast, spent her career in the "guts of the operating environment," Bloom said.
"Thomas is a really strong general manager and he understands all aspects of the business," Bloom said.
Still, Kurian has a major challenge ahead of him, not just getting Google's developer culture to come aboard, but also getting buyers comfortable and trusting of the Google brand.
While Google has long had a large roster of small and mid-size businesses using its apps, it's a whole different matter to attract chief information officers of large companies, particularly in tightly regulated industries. Kurian will need Alphabet's investment dollars to hire the right sales people and to pursue the big-spending accounts aggressively.
That's a tough sell at Google, whose investor base has come to expect high operating margins. A previous big-name enterprise executive, Diane Bryant was brought on as operating chief last November but lasted only seven months at the company.