Cloud Next is Google’s regular conference that covers all their cloud-related products. That’s something of a vague and overarching classification, but I squeezed into the Google office in Berlin to watch a live stream of the event and will get you all up to speed.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Updates
Despite trailing 3rd in the cloud provider leaderboard, Google has tempted a handful of high-profile customers to the platform and keeps adding features to its offering in an effort to attract more. Aside from improving infrastructure with custom security chips (the Titan) and a partnership with Intel to be the first to use its next generation Skylake processors, Google reiterated their policies to per-minute billing and more flexible resource purchasing to save big users money.
More exciting were the new features added to GCP, with Google focussing on pricing features they are famously good at, big data processing and analysis, plus a bit of catching up with their competitors.
This feature announcement is Google playing catch up with the book company, i.e. this as an AWS Lambda alternative. Cloud Functions allow you to spin up logical processing units as you need them, responding to events and outputting a result. Generally, the function lives for seconds, and you pay only when it is running without needing servers, or setting up operating systems and dependencies.
In case you thought there weren’t enough scalable SQL databases available, Google has added another for you to consider, perhaps with the strangest product name they have ever released. Cloud Spanner makes a lot of claims in terms of being a truly traditional relational database that is truly scalable. Many have promised this before, time will tell if it delivers, or if the financial cost is worth it.
Google have supported OpenRefine for some time, allowing you to clean and process your data sets before importing into a database. With Dataprep, Google adds an even smarter data manipulation and analysis tool right into the GCP. It claims to be an intelligent service, learning common processing steps you take over time and importing your processed data right into a cloud-hosted database.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) API
This announcement was one of those interesting ones, a product you never thought you needed, until it was announced, and then seemed like one of the best ideas ever. You feed raw data (text and images) into the API, and using more than 40 predefined detectors, the API redacts potentially sensitive information, including passport, license plate, and phone numbers.
Windows has traditionally been abandoned by development platforms (outside of traditional Windows territory), but Google is one of the latest to jump on the bandwagon of offering more support for developers using Windows. This will include partner programs and .Net core & SQL server support as part of GCP.
Alongside these big features, announcements shared the general trend of Google more tightly integrating its acquisitions (especially Firebase) into a more cohesive whole. Various cloud components will fit and flow together better, with more opportunity to use the output from one service as an input to another.
Alongside technical-focused announcements were also new features aimed at collaboration and distributed work. Google regularly changes its mind and direction with its messaging and 'office' tools, but again, with competitors snapping at their heels, there were obvious shots at Microsoft and Slack. Some of these will likely have open APIs, so there will be development opportunities abound for creating integration options.
Team Drive enables teams to work together in Google Drive with improved permissions, ownership, and file access that an organization and its departments need.
Drive File Stream will add improvements to desktop clients for Google Drive, but I was a little unclear on quite how it will work... it sounded a bit too smart.
Google is changing its chat offerings yet again, but this time, with more of an enterprise pitch.
Hangouts Meet is a new video meeting experience where up to 30 people can join a meeting within seconds with no downloads or browser plugins required, and it integrates with G Suite enabling participants to present files natively. Anyone can join from any Android or iOS device, and a dial-in phone number for each meeting helps connect employees who are on the road without wifi/data.
Hangouts Chat is an evolution of direct messaging in Hangouts. It enables teams to connect in virtual rooms, with G Suite integrations that let them embed content from Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Calendar (etc.) right in the conversation. Chat also integrates with a wide set of enterprise tools with the aim to integrate existing workflows from Asana, Box, and Zendesk seamlessly into Chat.
Oh, and of course, they include bots who will help you out with certain tasks. Because no product announcement is complete these days without a bot thrown in for good measure.
We've been able to use add-ons with the web version of Gmail for some time, but soon we'll be able to create add-ons that work on all Gmail clients. Google announced a handful of early add-ons, but developers interested in finding out more can sign up here.
Phew! That was quite a keynote, with loads more interesting ideas that I haven’t even mentioned. If you want to find out more, then visit the official conference website to watch sessions, read blog posts, and drink a lot of Google-flavored Kool-Aid.