Google is serious about the enterprise.
That’s the main message that they want you to take away from their Cloud Next ‘17 conference, which ran last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in San Francisco.
This has big implications and deserves some careful thought, but first we need to spend a bit of time just sorting through everything they talked about—they had two huge keynotes, and made literally 100 announcements. To to get the lay of the land, today I’m going to recap the parts that matter most for the end user computing space. (There are also over 200 session videos you can dig into.)
For a bit of background, remember that “Google Cloud” is the brand name that they started using back in September for all of their enterprise products, including the Google Cloud Platform, the EMM parts of Android, Chrome, and Chromebooks, and apps. At the same time, Google Apps for Work was renamed G Suite.
The show started off with an introduction by Diane Greene. She’s been SVP of Google Cloud since 2015, but of course most of us already know her as the former CEO of VMware. She set the tone for the event by talking about how Google Cloud is accelerating and what the cloud means to the business world.
The day was really about showing off customers, and (mostly) new ones at that. Disney, Home Depot, eBay, and HSBC talked about infrastructure and AI/machine learning topics; Colgate and Verizon talked about migrating huge numbers of users (28k and 150k respectively) onto G Suite.
There was a big partnership announcement with SAP (it’s pretty broad), and Google also talked about a new category of support partners, including Pivotal Labs as a customer reliability engineering partner, and Rackspace as their first managed service provider partner.
The keynote continued with a very interesting segment about cloud AI and machine learning. This may not be that directly-related to EUC at the moment, but we should definitely be watching out for the possibilities—it could sweep through our jobs just like mobile and cloud did
Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt closed the keynote, making a pitch that was essentially: Google cloud is ready for your enterprise business (they’ve spend $30 billion on infrastructure), and once companies come onboard, there’s a lot of cool stuff they can do. To help, Google has a lot of services and partners, including along the lines of Accenture and PWC, and they’re making the migrations happen faster.
The second keynote had more product and feature announcements, and was led by Urz Hölzle, the Google Cloud SVP of technical infrastructure.
The first segment of the highlighted scale the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) itself, Cloud Spanner, and their partnership with Intel. Then they talked about how they want to be more flexible and economical than other cloud providers. To that end, Google provides discounts that apply over time (so you don’t have to go with a big long term contract to get the best rates; they have custom VM sizes (so you can scale them granularly); they have per-minute billing; and their long-term contracts only specify overall usage volume (all the other VM specifications are flexible.)
Next up was security. Google highlighted the physical security of their datacenters, as well as the Titan security chip that’s in all their hardware. New announcements included a beta DLP API (it even works for images); the GA of their Cloud Key Management Service; the GA of physical security key enforcement; and a beta Identity Aware Proxy.
The Identity Aware Proxy provides per-application access control based on user identity and second-factor authentication, rather than assuming that anyone who comes in via the VPN can do anything they want. In the future, they will add more context to access decisions, such location or the state of the user’s device. This falls in line with identity and access management concepts that we’ve discussed before.
The next segment covered migrating to GCP—you can even live-migrate an x86 VM to GCP, and they highlighted their Windows Partner Program, as well as their hybrid and virtual private cloud capabilities. Lastly, they demoed various ways of modernizing legacy applications.
The very end of the keynote was dedicated to Apigee, but the last big segment for EUC folks was dedicated to G Suite. Even though G Suite started out as consumer apps, Google said they have 3 million paying customers now, they do an early adopter program to test changes with enterprise customers, and they have more enterprise-specific components, including Jamboard, App Maker, and Cloud Search.
There were several announcements for Drive, which now at 800 million monthly active users: Team Drive is GA; Vault for Drive is GA; they acquired AppBridge to help customers migrate data from on-premises file servers; they announced Drive File Stream, which automatically manages desktop syncing; and they’re using machine learning to help with search.
Google Hangouts got rebuilt into two parts: There’s Hangouts Chat, which has a lot of Slack-like features including threaded chats, chat rooms, and support for third-party integrations and bots. The video conferencing portion is now called Hangouts Meet, and it got a variety of small improvements, like the ability to connect with a normal dial-in over the PSTN. They also showed off their Jamboard electronic whiteboard, which of course also has plenty of Drive and Hangouts integrations.
Last, but not least, Google announced a developer preview of Gmail add-ons.
In some circles, a Google Apps versus Office 365 conversation has been going on for a few years now, but this is way bigger. Google has made an impassioned pitch for all aspects of enterprise IT now.
Now we have the lay of the land of their most recent announcements, but coming up, there’s going to be plenty more discussion.