Crisantos is a guest author for The UC Buyer. This article was originally published on LinkedIn
I had the opportunity to attend Google Cloud Next 2019, Google's annual cloud conference held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on April 9-11. As you might expect, there were many attendees, announcements, and activities for the Google cloud community. By the end of the event, three critical themes emerged that were quite significant, that you might have missed – either because you couldn’t attend, or you were overwhelmed with the volume of announcements that were being made.
Let me know your feedback and whether you agree with these three key takeaways!
The Kurian Effect
On the first day’s keynote address, we got to see Thomas Kurian, the new Google Cloud CEO. After having spent the last 22 years at Oracle, he started 2019 in his new role as CEO of Google’s Cloud business.
According to Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, “Kurian is a great fit for that job, having led 35k+ developers at Oracle, ending the trench warfare between product teams and other divisions within the company, that had plagued Oracle a decade ago” (source).
I suspect there might be a bit of a cultural shift Kurian is going to have to navigate at Google cloud, at least based on what I understand and already know about the different cultures. More importantly, Kurian will bring a much-needed discipline and maturity with a keen focus on the large, enterprise market.
TechCrunch interviewed Kurian at the event. He explained that his first task was to set up hundreds of meetings with prospective and current customers to best understand what they were looking for in a partner. This was a smart move. The overall feedback was consistent – customers love Google’s technology, but they want more support to help with adoption and implementation.
Kurian was quick to respond that Google will go on a hiring spree to provide the needed support. He added that his team is rolling out new contracts and plans to simplify pricing and that the quest to court the enterprise customer will continue to be a focus in the pursuit of growth.
If you want to see the “Kurian effect” in action, you might want to take the time to watch this video of the opening keynote where these concepts were mentioned repeatedly:
Strong Focus on Interoperability to Increase Market Share
From my perspective, Kurian’s comments tell me that Google’s Cloud business is poised for significant growth. As the third largest cloud service provider behind AWS and Microsoft, I wouldn’t count them out yet as a future market share leader in this space.
My next observation that reaffirmed this focus is the importance Google places on their Cloud business, which began when Sundar Pichai kicked off the keynote. As Google’s CEO, he had three points to convey – the importance of growing a scalable business, the need for an infrastructure that can accelerate innovation to market, and do so through an open ecosystem.
According to Pichai, most enterprise computing occurs on-premise. The key to growth is facilitating a transition strategy to overcome the inherent complexity, incompatibility, and flexibility requirements to make this change happen easier.
Google thinks they have the answer in a new product announced at the event – Anthos – the new name for the Cloud Services Platform. Google introduced this product for hybrid cloud management last year. Anthos will launch with support from 30 major tech and developer services and will be supported by infrastructure service providers like Cisco, MongoDB, HPE, and VMware.
As Pichai explained, “Anthos gives you the flexibility to move on-prem apps to the cloud when you’re ready.” More importantly, Anthos will make it easier for companies to add Google Cloud to their existing cloud strategy without concern over incompatibility or future integration challenges.
This new product will be essential for Google to achieve enough momentum to fuel their growth objectives by overcoming how to simplify provisioning and support complexity.
Significant Investment in G Suite and Other Products
A dominant theme of Google Cloud Next 2019 was the high volume of new product introductions announced at the event. I counted at least 10 – there were probably more.
Here is a two-minute video Google’s product team prepared, which gives you a good overview of all the new products that were announced at this event:
I already spoke about Anthos being a key component of Google’s growth strategy. Here, I want to talk about G Suite updates, which might not have received as much press attention, but do hold exceptional promise to help businesses improve their productivity.
As Kurian explained, he sees a future where G Suite “enables collaboration for everyone in the world.” Smartphones will play a key role in making this vision a reality – leveraging built-in voice and camera capabilities without having to type anything. Voice to text is a crucial technology I would expect Google to continue to invest in.
Google Assistant can now access G Suite Calendar under a new update (in beta) that lets users ask when and where their next meeting is. Cloud search will be extended to new 3rd party data sources including SAP, Salesforce, and SharePoint, in addition to G Suite, significantly expanding where you can search to retrieve information from each of your digital assets.
And, the announcement I am most excited about, Google Voice for Business (GVB) is now available. GVB gives every one of your employees a phone number that can work from anywhere, on any device. Also, it looks like it will be easy to provision, deploy and manage, based on my personal experience with GVB. Add Google’s text-to-speech technology, and you can see that it will be easy to set up a welcoming, interactive menu to greet customers and prospects seeking to engage with your company.
A Final Comment
In closing, an observation I repeatedly observed at the event was that of participants being overwhelmed. There was so much information being shared, it felt like we were all drinking out of a fire hose. I saw many an expression of utter confusion.
When did it become an industry standard for these types of events to overwhelm the attendees with so much information? Given we will all likely only remember 20-30% of what was presented, how else can we achieve knowledge transfer with greater effectiveness?
I suppose this is a sign of the times. Technology advances continue to accelerate and an ever-increasing rate. The bar keeps getting higher as each successive vendor tries to outdo each other with all their new product announcements. The increasing use of AI, machine learning and automation isn’t helping. Despite each of these technologies, it is still a human that must process all the information to make a smart choice on where to invest scarce resources.
I hope you found this summary to be helpful. It was my way of trying to slow down the velocity of company and product updates to help you make a more educated decision on what new technology solutions you make as you make your way through the year.