Since 2017 Google hosts an annual Tech conference - Google Cloud Next - in the beautiful city of San Francisco, close to their headquarters located in Mountain View, California. Cloud Next rapidly became a very large-scale conference that has grown in its second year to an attendee count of more than 25,000 in the course of a week. As we at Engel & Völkers Technology are early and strong adopters and enthusiastic users of Google’s cloud technology (esp. G Suite and Cloud). This year again, a team of us attended the 3-days conference and bootcamp sessions.
This year’s conference had a multitude of highlights and focal points, however we like to emphasize some that resonated most with us.
FYI, you can see recordings of all the sessions on the Google Cloud YouTube channel.
Machine Learning everywhere (literally!)
Cloud-enabled Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been strongly promoted by Google from the very start of the Google Cloud products in 2017. What only one year back was an interesting field of new technology as a basis for innovative business ideas has by now evolved into an large and vivid ecosystem of applications and industry solutions. The sheer speed of development at Google’s (showcased) clients and how they overcome unprecedented complex problems with the use of ML/AI is inspiring!
Even beyond that, Google now takes it further, bringing ML capabilities to low power / performance Internet-of-Things (IoT) edge devices with their new Edge TPU processors and Cloud IoT product. This will soon enable to process ML workloads in a distributed fashion, exceeding central computing capacities in data center facilities.
Another exciting industry-specific use case shown is Contact Center AI, where by combination of Google’s existing product offerings enhance the work of contact center agents by analysis of customer intent and keeping context, eventually improving the customer experience.
Big news for data engineers and scientists is that Bigquery will soon gain ML capabilities that can be directly accessed via SQL. Build ML neural networks directly in SQL - yay!
Strong Commitment to Open Source
Since the beginning of the company, Google has been a strong promoter of Open Source software. This year again, they emphasized their commitment to Open Source software licensing, by openly publishing a lot of their new products, e.g. Istio, gVisor, OpenCensus. For us as strong believers in Open Source but also as customers this is great news, as it gives great flexibility and limits risk of technological vendor lock-in.
Serverless Computing and highly automated DevOps
Abstraction never gets old. With all cloud providers the hottest thing is serverless computing, abstracting workloads away even from virtual machines or containers to pure and (almost) indefinitely scaling functions. A lot of conference sessions were focusing on showing how easy these can be developed and deployed on Google’s cloud products, some of them also addressing how to move legacy workloads (e.g. software monoliths) to serverless MicroServices-based architectures. On container-level, with Google’s soon-to-launch product Cloud Services Platform, an overarching and integrated solution for highly automated operations of Kubernetes, Istio, Spinnaker and StackDriver was announced.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
Just as Arthur C. Clarke put it in his famous quote, lots of time users (but also Tech professionals) wonder, how Google is able to - magically - deliver its 1B+ products (products with more than one billion users) with the reliability and scale we experience everyday. At Cloud Next ’18 Google gave deep insights on how they are managing their own infrastructure and network operations, consistently executing their Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) concepts - and how to adapt and apply this to your own organization (e.g. by introducing error budgets).
“Attachments serialize your work and make you slow”
Also regarding productivity solutions (i.e. G Suite), a lot of upcoming innovations were announced, better addressing corporate requirements. But taking the leap to the age of #NewWork, accessing cloud-based toolings and data from anywhere, at anytime and with any device also requires change of people habits. Symptomatically this can be seen by sending file attachments via email. By the very concept of it, it forbids people working in parallel on it (serialization) and slows down the collaborative process to single-threaded execution. Google is very aware of the complexity in people change management and exemplary customers told their story and what pitfalls to avoid in the process.
Cyber Security Improvements
Google is continuously investing significantly into IT security and data privcacy advancements. With the announcements of new IT security products like Cloud Armour, Shielded VMs, signed Containers or data regions for G Suite and GKE on premises, enterprises can now even better care for cyber security concern and do more flexible decisions where to host what data.
As a conclusion this year’s Google Cloud Next has been an interesting and inspiring event for our team and myself. With major large-scale players in the Tech-space like Twitter or Spotify moving over their primary workloads to Google Cloud and their strong commitment to Open Source, we feel we made a good choice selecting Google as our strategic technology partner. We’ll definitely be back Next ’19 time.
P.S. - NO WiFi
For people who are also responsible to run WiFi services it might be relieving to hear, that the WiFi at the conference wasn’t always working properly. It’s hard - even for Google ;)
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