How the queen of Silicon Valley is helping Google go after Amazon”s most profitable business (GOOG, GOOGL)

The first thing to understand about Diane Greene, the woman Google acqui-hired in November to transform its fragmented cloud business, is that she has the mind of an engineer.

(A lifelong competitive sailor, she was a mechanical engineer who built boats and windsurfers before she became an iconic Silicon Valley computer scientist.)

The second thing to understand about her is that she hates the limelight.

While she’s fine with standing on stage talking about all the cool thingsGoogle is building for their new target customer, big companies, she prefers not to talk aboutherself.

In fact, she’s so ego-free, her office at Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters isjust a tiny windowless room, big enough to hold an ordinary desk and two chairs.

Before she took the job, Google had been building products and pursuing business customers in asort of hodgepodge way.ItsGoogle for Work unit hadGoogle Apps, Chromebooks, and an assortment of other productslike videoconferencing.

Now, all the teams are working together. “We all get together once a week, we share and discuss and debate,” she says. “It wasn’t possible before I came because sales and marketing were in a different division than cloud. And cloud was in a different division than Apps.I feel like the structure is in place now and we’re hiring very aggressively.”

Greene made her name as cofounder of VMware, with her famous Stanford professor husband. Vmware has gone on to become a giant tech company. She left the VMware CEO role about eight years ago, after EMC bought it.

HOlzle, the engineer who famously builtGoogle’s data centers and runs the technical side of the cloud business is Greene’s partner.

Google has placed itself at the center of one of the biggest, newest trends happening in the enterprise market. Some people call this trend digital transformation. But it’s more than just automating manual processes or turningpaper forms into iPad apps.

More and more,theIT departments at large companies have started treating their tech vendors as partners that help them co-create the tech they need.

“This is new for me. I’ve never been in the enterprise where your customers are your partners. It was always, you had customers and you had partners. But almost every customer of a certain size is a partner. It’s going both ways now,” Greene says.

She points to one customer, Land O’Lakes, as an example.

Land O’Lakes is probablybest known for its butter and dairy products. It tookcrop and weather data from Google and worked with Google to build an app hosted on Google’s cloud. The app helps itsfarm and dairy co-op members improve their crop yields.

“It’s fun for us to help them do that,” she says. Unlike the old days, where an IT company would be the one to build the app and sell it to agriculture companies, “we don’t have to do it ourselves.”

This idea of partnering with customers is the key to her strategy.

“For me, this is such a revolution,” she says. “Everything is changing now that we are in the cloud in terms of sharing our data, understanding our data using new techniques like machine learning.”

Google’s competitive strength, Greene believes, is the breadth of the tech it can offer an enterprise.

Enterprise app developers can tap into things likeMaps, Google’s computer vision engine (the tech that powers Google Photos), weather data,language/translation/speech recognition. Theycan build apps on top of Google’s Calendar, documents, spreadsheet and presentation apps.

And, under Greene’s new integrated organization, they can even tap into the tech that powers Google’s ads or YouTube, search, or its many other services.

“Andwe’re going to have more and more,” she says.

When a company can take its own data and combine it with all of Google’s technology and Google’s data, “there’s just huge possibilities,” she says.

Greene will tell you, “We’re the only public cloud company with all of that.”

When pointing out that Microsoft also offers a computer vision API, translation services and APIs for Office 365, IBM also offers weather data and language services, and so on, Greene’s got a come-back ready.

“We have Chromebooks.”

Well, Microsoft has Surface.

“But Chromebooks can run all the Android apps, are totally secure, they have administration … and they have a nice keyboard,” she laughs.

In fact, Greene says, “I only use a Chromebook now. I never thought I could do that but I love it.”

In truth, she’s not laser focused on overtaking Microsoft, widely considered the No. 2 cloud player, with Google trailing behind.

She, like all the cloud vendors, are looking at market leader Amazon Web Services, which is raking in the enterprise cloud customers.

So how is she going to beat Amazon? By offering better tech, she says.

“I’m a little biased but I really do think, on the hard stuff, we’re the world’s best cloud,” she says.

“I agree we have more features to do, although we have the basics for enterprise that you need. We have more partners to bring on, but we’re doing that very quickly. But the hard stuff, I do think we’re the world’s best.”

While Greene would not share the the cloud unit’s growth numbers, she says that “growth is really good and we’re doing great stuff with some really big customers.”

She adds: “We’ve been moving customers to our cloud both from Amazon and on-prem.”

‘On-prem’ means getting companies to move the apps they have running in their own computers on their own premises intoGoogle’s cloud.

Google has even been engagingAmazon with its price cuts war, she says.

“They’ve been following our price cuts. We’ve been initiating them,” she says.

She jokes, “We should make a T-shirt ‘The highest quality, lowest-cost cloud.'”