SAN FRANCISCO — Diane Greene, whose pursuit of Pentagon contracts for artificial intelligence technology sparked a worker uprising at Google, is stepping down as chief executive of the company’s cloud computing business.
Ms. Greene said she would stay on as chief executive until January. She will be replaced by Thomas Kurian, who oversaw product development at Oracle until his resignation in October. Ms. Greene will remain a board director at Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
The change in leadership caps a turbulent three years for Ms. Greene, who was brought on to expand Google’s cloud computing business. Google Cloud has struggled to make major inroads in persuading corporate customers to use its computing infrastructure over alternatives like Amazon’s A.W.S. and Microsoft’s Azure.
In a blog post published by the company, Ms. Greene said she had initially told friends and family that she was planning to run Google Cloud for only two years but stayed for three.
Ms. Greene, a widely respected technologist and entrepreneur, said that after leaving Google Cloud, she planned to help female founders of companies by investing in and mentoring them.
Ms. Greene joined Google in 2015 when it acquired Bebop, a start-up she had founded, for $ 380 million.
She is best known as a co-founder and former chief executive of VMware, whose software for juggling many programs across many computers is widely used in corporate data centers. That kind of “virtual machine” software is one of the technologies that make computing clouds efficient and relatively inexpensive.
Google said this year that its cloud business was generating more than $ 1 billion in revenue per quarter — which is dwarfed by the tens of billions of dollars that Google generates quarterly from selling online advertising.
“When this journey started, some people would say that Google had great technology but they weren’t sure that customers would rely on Google as their enterprise partner,” Ms. Greene wrote in the blog post. Now, no one is “questioning our seriousness or our abilities.”
Her leadership of Google Cloud came under scrutiny this year when employees protested the company’s pursuit of a Defense Department contract for the Maven program, which uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes.
When reports of the company’s involvement in Project Maven spread internally, more than 4,000 employees signed a letter protesting the decision. In March, Ms. Greene defended the decision, saying that it was a small contract worth “only” $ 9 million and that the technology would be used for nonlethal purposes.
When that response failed to calm the furor among some employees, Google announced in June that it would not renew that contract with the Pentagon for artificial intelligence work when the current deal expired in 2019.
Announcing that decision, Ms. Greene said that Google would not have sought the Maven contract if company officials had anticipated the criticism from employees and that the decision was made when Google was more aggressively going after military work.
She found herself in the spotlight again last month when she was one of the last technology and business executives to pull out of speaking at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia after the slaying of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tied to Saudi leadership.
In March, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant, announced a partnership for “national cloud services and other technology opportunities” as part of a push to modernize the kingdom.