4 Key Takeaways from Google Cloud Next ’19

Google Cloud Next ’19 was the flagship Google Cloud Platform developers conference, held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. I was lucky enough to attend it with Cloud Academy, and got the chance to check out tons of breakout sessions and get great insight firsthand.  

Next ’19 was my first in-person global conference. Over the past few years I’ve followed live streams and read all I could about Next. The big difference I noticed this year — starting from the first keynote — was a tangible shift from primarily a marketing event to much more of a developer-oriented experience. With more than 500 breakout sessions available, I was able to easily build an agenda full of technical and relevant sessions.

Several case studies were presented during the keynotes and sessions from a wide range of industries that are moving their workloads into the cloud. As you may know, Google Cloud’s popularity is growing and its strategy is to gain more customers by delivering products that can be easily integrated with other cloud providers, starting with AWS and Azure. GCP’s rivals in the cloud space have had a huge head start and are well established, and GCP knows it can’t win with another proprietary solution alone. But with their interesting multi-cloud approach, they have a chance to acquire market share and become the go-to vendor for this new paradigm.

Thomas Kurian, the new Google Cloud CEO,  confirmed their direction during the day 1 keynote by emphasizing that GCP is the easiest cloud provider for enterprise customers thanks to powerful open source products following a multi-cloud and hybrid approach. The overall slant of the keynote was one of excitement and thoughtful technical change, and this resonated throughout the conference. Here are the four most important takeaways:

Google Cloud Next Show Floor

1. A True Hybrid Cloud Platform

Anthos was the most exciting and promising product announced at the keynote. Anthos is a brand new service that lets you build and manage modern hybrid applications across different environments. It will allow to you to run Kubernetes workloads on third-party cloud providers (AWS or Azure) or on-prem environments without worrying too much about an environment’s peculiarities.

The Anthos release was very indicative of the new Google Cloud strategy, and while Kubernetes is very popular and many customers are adopting it as a container orchestration system, it’s too soon to know if Anthos will be the first choice to manage workloads on different cloud providers. If Google is able to solve all the challenges inherent to a multi-vendor and hybrid approach, Anthos can be poised for real success.

2. Portable Serverless Applications

Cloud Run is a new serverless compute platform for containerized apps. The product allows you to run Docker containers in a fully managed environment with added portability. Cloud Run can be also used with Google Kubernetes Engine to run serverless workloads in GKE clusters.

Serverless is an increasingly popular approach to software development but with every cloud vendor providing its own solution, it can be easy to fall into vendor lock-in. Cloud Run’s strength is that it can help customers build applications with all the serverless benefits and without compromises around portability. This will be an interesting trend to follow in the upcoming months that could change the adoption curve of serverless solutions.

3. Advanced Security Functionality

Thomas Kurian’s keynote emphasized that Google Cloud is taking security and trust very seriously. Security, whether from threat detection or from the perspective of the management plane, is one of the most relevant concerns of enterprise customers facing a digital transformation. In that vein, GCP announced products and security features aimed at enhancing user and enterprise protection, as well as giving more visibility and control over environments. Two of the most compelling are:

Cloud Security Command Center: With this, you can centralize security management in GCP for preventing, detecting, and responding to threats. Cloud Security Command Center will offer Event Threat Detection, Security Health Analytics, Cloud Security Scanner, and Stackdriver Incident Response and Management. 

Android phone’s built-in security key for 2SV: Android devices running Android 7.0+ can be used as two-step verification (2SV) to have stronger security and prevent attackers to gain access to the user account.

4. Democratize ML Models for the Masses

With the introduction of AI Platform, Google Cloud is presenting a managed service that provides tools to build and deploy Machine Learning projects either on GCP or on-premise. AI Platform can be thought of as a place that will help you on the entire journey of an AI project by providing both existing and brand new tools. Together with AI Platform, Google Cloud also announced AutoML Tables — for model training without coding and turning structured data into predictive insights, and AutoML Vision Edge — for enhancement of image recognition on edge devices.

AI has become one of the most popular topics in all sorts of industries. Google Cloud’s AI Platform announcement is a marked improvement because it puts every tool and product in one place, reducing the complexity to take an AI project from idea to production. Cloud Academy has created intelligent learning paths for ML on Google Cloud, empowering you to get to a finished product faster.

Bonus Content: Ice Cold Archive Storage

The last announcement that caught my attention was the reveal of Ice cold archive storage for Google Cloud Storage. The new archive class is designed for long-term data retention: objects stored in this new archive class are immediately accessible with low-latency, and without a retrieval process. Unlike similar storage options offered by competitors, Google Cloud Storage doesn’t have a retrieval period to access your data — with competitors’ similar storage options you would at best need minutes, so this is a huge improvement.

As you’d expect with Google Cloud, the announcements were numerous and had tons of potential. You can expect Cloud Academy’s library of training content to continue to grow and help guide you along the way in your career as you incorporate these new developments into your successful workflows.

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