Developer-friendly Google Cloud Platform earns its stripes

Piyush Malik

When you seek information, your first instinct is to open Google search on your browser, but did you know Google is among the top-three cloud providers in the world?

While some may contend that with just a small market share of the overall market, Google Cloud Platform trails far behind Amazon Web services and Microsoft Azure, I did not get that impression after attending the recent Google Cloud Next18  conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.


Born on the Cloud


Building on its technical chops that made its search engine ubiquitous, Google has been offering cloud services for the past decade and has been investing heavily into this business. In its early days, Google Cloud had carved out a niche for itself, working with startups and smaller companies. However, it is now a serious contender for enterprise clientele, with a big data and machine learning background to bolster its product catalog. And all its efforts are bearing fruit with enterprise clients like HSBC, eBay, Target and hundreds more coming on board.

Spanning three action-packed days – July 24 through 26th,  Google proudly showcased its shiny new tools, technologies customer successes, spotlights,  new partnerships, and more to build out its ecosystem. Clearly, the developer community loves such shows as much as it gets the executives to meet their industry peers and exchange notes on successes as well as failures and lessons learned.


Key Takeaways


When Diane Greene, Google Cloud CEO, took center stage during her conference opener keynote, she stated, “Security is the number one worry, and AI is the number one opportunity.” Google has long seen success in its AI and machine learning efforts, and now it is fully realizing their potential among enterprise customers and developers. The company’s 100+ announcements at the conference touched on three key themes: Artificial intelligence (AI), developers, and unified cloud.

Democratizing ML


What stood out for me was the availability announcements around AutoML and a slew of new APIs that truly democratize AI and make it easy for organizations to embrace data science and machine learning. Leveraging AutoML allows these companies to quickly and easily gain predictive insights from their vast collection of images and text – which is essentially unstructured and sometimes termed as “dark data”.


Hybrid Cloud, Containers, Kubernetes & Cloud Services Platform


One of today’s biggest barriers to full-scale cloud adoption amongst a majority of enterprises is the inability to move applications to and from the cloud. Companies continue to have a lot of legacy applications built with a different set of tools that seem to get multiplied with each merger & acquisition. Whether to migrate, lift and shift or retool is something that needs the ability to support a hybrid IT environment  Filling that void, Google also unveiled the Cloud Services Platform, offering businesses an integrated set of cloud services that can be deployed on both the Google Cloud Platform and in on-premise environments.

Piyush Malik on stage at Google Cloud Next18 with Google’s Prashant Dhingra and Geotab’s Mike Branch. (Photo courtesy: Manuel Amunategui)


Last year, Google had launched the open-source Kubernetes project which is a key component in running and managing scalable applications. Now, Google has taken it one step further by providing a framework that can help manage applications in hybrid environments (multi-cloud or on-prem), something that large enterprises have a need for. With its new Cloud Services Platform, Google is now offering a service called Istio that will help manage, monitor and secure microservices across clouds. GKE, the Google Kubernetes Engine, is the core Google Cloud service for managing containers in the cloud. And now Google is essentially bringing this service to the enterprise data center, too.  When Google CEO Sundar Pichai cracked a “container” joke during his keynote speech on day 1, most folks may not have appreciated it fully until they learned on day 2 as to what he meant by “Google’s containers are getting big”. But the geeks in the audience like me smiled!.


Internet of Things combined with Machine Learning gives GCP an edge


Finally, a set of announcements and proof points around IoT seemed interesting to me. When Google’s head of IoT opened with use cases on how their IoT platform was ready to solve world hunger, make our lives easier and make the world better place to live, I smirked for I had heard these kinds of statements at prior industry events & conferences from a variety of vendors. It was not until he unveiled the  Edge TPU chip (actually 4 of them on a penny) and announced the launch of a hardware kit and software (Cloud IOT Edge & Tensorflow Lite ) that it hit me that this was going to be revolutionary. Being able to leverage machine learning on the edge (devices which are low powered, low cost and lack consistent network connectivity) will be a boon for applications such as surveillance.  For example, security cameras embedded with these chips would be able to use vision API without having to connect to the cloud constantly to analyze real-time traffic for a smart city smart traffic management application. Similarly, this can be applied to manufacturing for quicker, automated and efficient anomaly detection. What a game changer!

Overall, Google Cloud Next ‘18 was an incredible experience! From fantastic keynotes and fireside chats to GO-JEK CTO Ajey Gore appearing on-stage on a scooter to listening to Target CIO Mike McNamara over 25000 attendees had an inspiring, educational and entertaining week at this conference. There were more than 290 customer speakers sharing their stories of business transformation in the cloud and taking part in hundreds of breakout sessions.


About the author:

Piyush Malik has been an entrepreneur and tech executive in Silicon Valley for over two decades. Apart from being on the advisory board of a few companies, he serves as SVP at an AI/ML startup, SpringML, which is a premier partner for machine learning and data analytics to Google Cloud.

It was his second year  participating in a Google Cloud conference and this time he was invited to present a breakout session at Next18  titled “Predictive Maintenance with Could IOT core and Machine learning”

The views expressed in this column are his own. Feel free to share this with your social networks and also let Piyush Malik know your thoughts and comments below. He can be reached via Linkedin or Twitter.

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