We're at Google Cloud Next 2018 (Day 1 and 2 updates)

What will Google's enterprise-oriented show mean for EUC, mobility, and possibly even desktop virtualization?

Kyle and I are at Google Cloud Next 2018, Google's enterprise-oriented show running this week in San Francisco.


I took notice of this event last year after they hit all the right notes in the keynotes, so this year I wanted to get a much closer look. (See Google shows its enterprise ambition at Cloud Next ‘17. Here’s our overview for EUC folks.)

The two big keynotes were on Tuesday and Wednesday. We didn’t do a live blog, but this post will serve as an index of EUC-related announcements, and our reactions and findings throughout the week.

We're going in with questions like:

  • What's the latest on Android enterprise, Chrome for enterprise, G Suite, and Chrome OS?
  • What big new customers has Google Cloud chalked up recently?
  • What new features and products will Google Cloud introduce to entice the enterprise away from Microsoft?
  • Will Google Cloud ever do their own desktops or Windows apps as a service, or continue to leave that to partners (as Gabe surmised last year)?

Day 1

Going in, we knew that much of the keynote would be outside of EUC, but I still wanted to get the general feeling and hear all the Google Cloud announcements.

Google said that there are 25,000 people here this week, and while the keynote hall wasn’t actually that big (nor was it completely full), walking between the conference halls proved that it is indeed a fairly large event.

The audience had a lot of energy for Diane Greene, who kicked off the keynote by giving a broad overview of the Google Cloud business; Sundar Pichai made a quick appearance as well. Much of the morning was dedicated to machine learning and the new Cloud Services Platform. Again, even though this isn’t EUC, it’s still worth following. Personally, I think the computer vision stuff is the most interesting, both in my personal consumer life, and in the enterprise world (even for desktop admins!).

One of the more EUC-oriented keynote segments had to do with all of the new features in G Suite. These include new data region residency options and security investigation tools, as well as AI/machine learning-powered assistant tools. Of course, Microsoft Office 365 is working on many new advanced productivity features as well, but either way, it’s interesting how these could actually change some of our fundamental work tools.

The highlight of the day for me was the Android customer panel session, featuring Pitney Bowes, Uber, and SAS Institute. If you’ve been following Android enterprise, you know that a ton of features have been introduced in the past few years, but overall, we’re still just in the first wave of adoption. All three of these businesses have been successfully leveraging various features like work profiles, work-managed devices, and purpose-built devices, and they’re excited about newer programs like zero touch enrollment, Project Treble, and Android Enterprise Recommended.

Another new offering that I learned about is Chrome Browser cloud management. We’ve talked about Chrome OS device management, and Chrome management via GPOs has been around for a long time, but this is different, and represents another new freestanding way to manage Chrome browsers. Also, Tuesday was the day that Chrome started marking HTTP sites as “not secure.”

That’s all I have time to dash off for tonight, because the day was completely packed with sessions. For more on the Day 1 news, check out Google’s round up. Wednesday brings another keynote, which sounds like it should be pretty full, so stay tuned.

Day 2

Once again, the Day 2 keynote had a lot of cloud and AI/ML content, but there were more end user computing announcements, too. (Here’s Google’s overview of all the conference announcements.)

Let’s start with the G Suite announcements. First, some numbers: Google said that there are now 4 million businesses on G Suite, with a million of them coming in the last year. Eighty million students use G Suite in schools, and Google points out (as many others have) that these students will be tomorrow's workforce, and are likely to take that preference with them.

Moving on to the products, the new version of Gmail (that many of us have been using in our personal accounts for a few months now) is now GA for G Suite customers.

Cloud Search, which was originally introduced for G Suite content only, will now be coming to third-party data sources. This is kind of like the cloud version of the older Search Appliance, and the goal is to have feature parity with that. They’ll publish a list of data connectors soon.

Google Voice is coming to G Suite. I say great, as I like anything that can simplify unified communications and push it farther—it just makes so much sense in today’s mobile world, especially for a BYOD program. I’ve used a consumer Google Voice account as my work phone number for years, and overall it’s been a good product for me.

The last G Suite news I’ll mention is that Google Drive Enterprise is going to be available as a standalone SKU. So for example, if you’re using Exchange and don’t want to switch to Gmail, you can still buy Drive for your enterprise file sync and share tool.

Next, let’s look at Cloud Identity. This is the IDaaS and EMM tool that’s comparable to other products we follow closely, like Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security and VMware Workspace One. On Wednesday, I had a great meeting with Karthik Lakshminarayanan, the director of product management for Cloud Identity. There’s a lot to talk about, which I’ll do in a separate article, but one thing he wanted me remind everyone is that you don’t have to buy G Suite to get Cloud Identity—it’s available as a standalone product.

I also learned that in the future, they’re planning on adding MDM for Windows 10 and macOS, on top of their current Android enterprise and iOS support. Anyway, Wednesday’s Cloud Identity news is that they’re bringing out new context aware access features, to further implement the BeyondCorp model.

Also on the identity front, Google announced their Titan Security Key, a physical authentication device that supports FIDO. It’s available in both USB and Bluetooth versions. It will be made widely available in the Google Store later this year.

Lastly, I’ll mention some of the IoT news. It falls under the “not quite EUC” bucket, but this is a blog after all, and I think it’s really interesting. A year ago, Google Cloud announced their Cloud IoT Core offering, basically a management service. This year, they announced the Edge TPU chip and Cloud IoT Edge software, which together can run machine learning models in IoT devices. Incidentally, all this falls under Injong Rhee, who was previously responsible for creating Knox over at Samsung. Google will be making the Edge TPU chip available in a system-on-module and a development board later this year. Many of the use cases and customers they showed off had to do with computer vision; for example, you train an ML model to recognize images of products with defects, and then you run this ML model on this chip, connected to a camera, all in a small device doing inspections on your production line.

Day 3

For Day 3, Kyle and I have a few more sessions planned, plus we’re going to check out the show floor. If you’re there, keep an eye out for us!

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