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Retrospective on Google Cloud Next 2018

What should you take away from this year’s Google Next annual cloud conference? To begin with, containers were front and center. Quite literally. The main stage was composed of multiple large rotating containers which severed as periodic hosts for demos and the morning DJs.

Containers weren’t the only themes this year; we heard a lot around artificial intelligence, the hybrid cloud, and some interesting developer investments.

You can find a complete run down of the announcements from the conference here.

I wanted to highlight a couple that I think will be interesting for our customers.


Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

“AI First” was a central theme, and there were several announcements around new AI and ML services. Auto ML perhaps being the most interesting. It provides users with limited machine learning experience pre-built models that you can train with your own data.

We’re watching to see how valuable these pre-built models end up being. I believe this a still emerging but important area of IT. Google Cloud’s AI product lead, Rajen Sheth, predicts that AI will be as foundational to computing over the next 20 years as the internet has been over the last 20.  Diane Greene, Google Cloud CEO, re-enforced that view in her keynote when she mentioned that:

[in the cloud] security is the number one worry and AI the number one opportunity – Diane Green

I agree it is one of the opportunities in the cloud, but I’ll save further elaboration for another day.


Cloud Services Platform

I mentioned already that containers were front and center this year and so it should be no surprise that Kubernetes was as well.

The newly announced Cloud Service Platform is constructed around Kubernetes. The platform is an integrated set of cloud services that enhance application performance, simplify security and governance implementations, and provide the ability to build apps once and run them anywhere.

GKE On-Prem

And they really do mean run anywhere. They are extending these services across GCP as well providing the ability to deploy a managed Kubernetes cluster (GKE) on-prem.

It was clear that Google believes cloud is the right place to run a majority of your workloads but acknowledges that there will be an interim period where not everything will be. Many of our clients are not ready for all in on the cloud and this hybrid capability will resonate. While we don’t yet now how much of differentiator this will be hybrid cloud capabilities are a critical factor to consider when evaluating application platforms. Extending these services to your on-premises kubernetes clusters means that you can operate your on-premises and cloud clusters from a singe control plane.


Istio was well publicized this week as well. It’s not new; Istio is an open source project which it’s been around for over a year but it’s now moving to 1.0. and with that Google announced a managed service mesh based on Istio. It provide operators service discovery, secure communications, and monitoring capabilities all without requiring modifications to your code. Anyone who has reach any critical mass in their microservice effort will quickly realize the value for this tool.

There was also a host of serverless announcements that we won’t cover here other than mentioning, Cloud Functions is (finally) in GA.


Developer Focus

The last keynote of the week was the Developer keynote. Why Google Cloud are you tucking the developer content at the end of the conference? Developers hold the power these days.

A quotable moment from earlier in the conference, and confirmation of my point, Target CIO, Mike McNamara mention on stage that, “In the end, it wasn’t me that picked Google Cloud; it was the engineers.” This is an important win for Google in the race against Amazon and shows yet again that developers are the new king makers.

The Google incubated Go language was also highlighted. With over 1 million active developers, it’s one of the fastest growing programming languages in the world. It’s the language of containers. It provides concurrency as a first class citizen and has a great energetic community. Google thinks they can add some nitrous to its growth by making it easier to write Go programs for the cloud. Go Cloud was announced as an open-source library to do just that.

These are some of the highlights from this week that stood out to me. I’m interested in hearing what you think about these announcements and where Google Cloud is headed.


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Joel Thimsen

Joel Thimsen is a Principal in Perficient's Healthcare and Life Sciences practice and serves as a retained Chief Architect for several key customers in the sector.

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