Eight major announcements at Google Cloud Next 2017: Customer wins, partnerships, machine learning and more
Google made headway with its aim of enticing more large enterprise customers to its cloud platform at Google Cloud Next this week. The event was substantially bigger than the previous year’s event - adding an extra day and moving from San Francisco’s Pier 48 to the Moscone Centre. The number of attendees was five times higher, at 10,000.
Some of the big names from Google and parent company Alphabet - including executive chairman Eric Schmidt and CEO Sundar Pichai - discussed a range of subjects - from cloud migration to open source and machine learning.
There were lots of new product and service announcements, as well as insight into Google’s cloud strategy - Computerworld UK looks back at some of the major news…
1. Enterprise customer wins
SnapChat, Evernote and Spotify are now big Google Cloud customers, but industry-watchers have been waiting for Google to show that it can really appeal to CIOs at more traditional enterprise businesses.
On the first day of the conference, senior vice president of Google’s cloud business, Diane Greene, highlighted some big names using its platform. Some of these were familiar - Home Depot and Disney were announced at the last year’s event - but a presentation from HSBC’s CIO Darryl West showed that Google is being considered by some of the world’s biggest enterprises.
Others presenting included G Suite users Verizon and Colgate-Palmoive, which has deployed the cloud tools to 28,000 employees.
2. Vendor partnerships
One of the headline announcements at Google Cloud Next 2017 was a partnership with German ERP vendor, SAP.
Cloud SVP Diane Greene announced that SAP HANA is now generally available on Google Cloud with full support for existing SAP contracts. The partnership includes support for the on-demand HANA express edition, aimed at developers.
Going forward, the vendors will also collaborate on creating compliance and data governance tools to aid businesses in moving workloads to the cloud and there are plans in place to work together on integrating machine learning capabilities.
"It is just a starting point and you can expect to hear from our two companies," said Bernd Leukert, member of the executive board at SAP.
Other new partners include Cloud Foundry software and services provider Pivotal and cloud managed services firm Rackspace.
Support pricing model changes were also announced.
3. Machine learning
One of the main selling points of Google’s cloud is the ability for businesses to tap into the technologies used internally at the company, and machine learning is one of the key areas.
Fei Fei, associate computer science professor at Stanford University, who joined as Chief Scientist of AI/ML at Google Cloud last year, highlighted the need to “democratise” machine learning, through tools such as APIs.
Google announced that its Cloud ML platform is now generally available, while unveiling its latest API, Video Intelligence. Built using Google’s Tensor Flow, the API enables video content to be searched and pick out information, without users having to watch footage.
In a bid to grow its presence in the data science community, Google announced the acquisition of Kaggle - an online service that host data science and machine learning competitions.
The deal will bring Google closer to Kaggle’s 800,000 members, and should help in hiring the most talented data experts.
Google also announced that it has bought Vancouver-based startup AppBridge, which helps businesses move on-premise data into Google Drive.
5. Cloud data centre expansion
Google announced that it would be rapidly expanding its cloud data centre footprint at its London customer event last autumn, with eight new regions announced, including the UK. While this rollout is still a work in progress, Google revealed that it would be creating new facilities in Holland, Canada and California.
6. Database additions
Following on from the recent announcement of Cloud Spanner - which combines features of SQL and NoSQL databases - Google unveiled further additions to its database portfolio. Cloud SQL for PostgresSQL is now available as a beta service, providing another option alongside its MySQL managed service.
Improvements to Cloud SQL for MySQL were also announced - with increased performance and central management of resources via identity access management (IAM) controls.
The SQL Server Enterprise service unveiled in beta earlier this year is now generally available.
7. Serverless computing and big data
Last year Google’s Eric Schmidt talked up the future of NoOps, and serverless computing continues to be on the agenda, with the Cloud Functions serverless environment now available in beta.
In addition, Google announced Cloud Dataprep, a serverless browser-based service that cuts the time taken to prepare data for analysis - often a major headache for data scientists.
BigQuery enhancements were also unveiled. This included a new Commercial Datasets program that's now available in public beta, enabling users to take information from companies such as AccuWeather, and Dow Jones feed it into BigQuery for further processing.
8. G Suite
G Suite saw a host of new additions. Google is aiming to take on the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams with a beta version of text-based collaboration tool, Hangouts Chat. There were also enhancements to Hangouts video-conferencing capabilities in a bid to make it more appealing to businesses, with more users now allowed to join a single call.
Google is also making it easier for developers to create Add-ons functionality within Gmail, partnering with QuickBooks, ProsperWorks, and Salesforce.
Meanwhile a new feature for Google Drive will enable users to view all files stored online on their desktop without downloading them , using the Drive File Stream service.
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