Everything we learned at Google Cloud Next 2019

Google Cloud wrapped up its big annual Next conference earlier this week, with new CEO Thomas Kurian manning his first show since taking the reigns in November.

As well as laying out his vision for the company, Google Cloud made its usual raft of announcements across its product portfolio, from security to collaboration and everything in between.

Here's what we learned at Google Cloud Next 2019...

Kurian\'s at the wheel

Kurian's at the wheel

This week was many people's first chance to get a read of Google Cloud's new CEO. The ex-Oracle executive presented his first keynote and cut an understated character, leaning on his colleagues and partners to lay out his vision for the vendor.

Read next: New Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian lays out his vision for the vendor

He focused on three elements of his strategy: "We want to give [customers] global scale, distributed, secure infrastructure; a digital transformation platform that that helps people build innovative digital transformation solutions, and then, industry specific-capability for digital transformation in a number of industries."

Taking the digital transformation platform alone, Kurian broke this down further into five elements: "The ability to manage data at scale; build and modernise application workloads; do analysis and make better business decisions; use Google's AI and ML technology advances and collaborate with others in your organisation or outside the boundaries of your organisation in profound new ways."

Anothos announcement
© Google

Anothos announcement

The big day-one announcement was Anthos, a platform that allows customers to run applications on-premise, in the Google Cloud and, crucially, with other major public cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

As Kurian laid it out: "Anthos came from listening to customers who wanted three important things from their cloud providers: First, a technology stack to run in their data centre next to enterprise workloads that they couldn't yet move to the cloud; Second, a single programming model that gave them the choice and flexibility to move workloads to both Google Cloud and other cloud providers without any change; Third, a platform that allows them to operate this infrastructure without complexity and to secure and manage across multiple clouds in a single, constant way."

Read next: Everything you need to know about Google Cloud Anthos

Nick McQuire, vice president of enterprise research at CCS Insight commented said: "With the arrival of Anthos and in particular its support of open-source, particularly Kubernetes, Google is now taking a much more realistic path in meeting customers where they are on their cloud journeys and is aiming to become the standard in hybrid, multi-cloud services in this next phase of the cloud market."

Google Cloud Run

Google Cloud Run

Google Cloud complemented this announcement with a new fully managed serverless solution called Cloud Run, which aims to allow customers to abstract away infrastructure concerns when deploying code.

Read next: Google Cloud launches fully managed serverless product Cloud Run

Previously Google customers could effectively run serverless using Google Cloud Functions, but with Run customers can "run stateless HTTP-driven containers, without worrying about the infrastructure," according to a blog post. Customers are then charged per 100 milliseconds of usage, for 'true' pay as you go billing.

Open source

Open source

Kurian also indicated an open strategy this week by announcing a range of new partnerships with best-of-breed open source database and analytics technology providers in a bid to broaden out customer's access to open source solutions.

The majority of these new partnerships are database technologies, like DataStax and its enterprise version of the highly scalable Apache Cassandra, Confluent and its Apache Kafka expertise, MongoDB's NoSQL database, or Neo4j's enterprise graph database offering.

The new partnerships mean customers of these technologies can deploy to Google Cloud in a tightly integrated manner, with united management, billing and support.

In a more general sense Kurian told Computerworld UK that: "Our goal has always been simple: you have to have the best technology and the easiest to adopt solutions that give customers choice. If you do, they will choose you, if you don't, eventually they will be unhappy."

In a blog post Chris DiBona, director of open source and Kevin Ichhpurani, VP of the global partner ecosystem at Google Cloud wrote: "Google's belief in an open cloud​ stems from our deep commitment to open source. We believe that open source is the future of public cloud: It's the foundation of IT infrastructure worldwide and has been a part of Google's foundation since day one. This is reflected in our contributions to projects like Kubernetes, TensorFlow, Go, and many more."

Database

Database

Alongside these open source database options Google Cloud also announced that later this year it will offer a fully managed SQL Server database service, CloudSQL for PostgreSQL and Cloud Bigtable multi-region replication.

AI and machine learning

AI and machine learning

It wouldn't be a Google event without plenty of AI and machine learning announcements and the vendor released a beta product called AI Platform, promising to bring together its AI technology into one place for customers.

The AI Platform promises an "end-to-end development platform" from data ingest with automatic labelling to building pipelines and deploying either on premises or in the cloud.

The vendor also announced two new AutoML flavours, one for creating ML models from tabular datasets and another for video content which can automatically label and identify key moments in a video for easier editing and better analyse their video content.

BigQuery ML is also coming out of beta, "enabling data analysts to build and deploy machine learning models on massive datasets directly inside BigQuery using familiar SQL."

Security

Security

There were of course a bunch of security announcements, with the big one being the general availability of Cloud Security Command Centre for security management and data risk across services like App Engine, BigQuery, Cloud Storage and Compute Engine.

There is also a new feature which automatically scans GCP infrastructure to identify configuration issues with public storage buckets, open firewall ports, stale encryption keys or deactivated security logging, as well as Event Threat Detection, which scans Stackdriver logs for suspicious activity like malware, crypto mining and outgoing DDoS attacks.

Collaboration

Collaboration

Google's wildly popular suite of enterprise collaboration tools in G Suite also got some enhancements this week.

A beta integration between Google Assistant and the calendar app was shown off, the Google Voice telephony system announced last year became generally available and Microsoft Office files can now be worked on in G Suite without converting them, to name just a few.

There is also a new visitor sharing feature in Google Drive, providing a simpler way to invite external contributors to collaborate on files in G Suite using PIN codes.

Availability zones

Availability zones

Google Cloud also announced two new availability zones, one in Salt Lake City, Utah and another in South Korea.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.