CloudNews & Analysis

Google Cloud Next’21: Workspace Security, Distributed Cloud, Sustainability Take Center-stage

Google Cloud

Google has made a slew of announcements focused on its Cloud services ahead of its annual ‘Google Cloud Next 2021’ conference. This time, the focus is on better security in its Workspace platform, a new Google Distributed Cloud platform for enterprise and sustainability and carbon footprint reporting for cloud customers.

Thomas Kurian
Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud

“At Google Cloud we aim at enabling organizations to transform their business digitally with the best infrastructure, platform, industry solutions, and expertise,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud.

“We have three unique capabilities that are becoming ever more important with the accelerating pace of digital transformation in virtually every industry. First, our cloud platform, which is designed and built to help organizations transform through digitization; second, our deep and broad ecosystem of consumer services and devices, and the ability to help organizations uniquely connect their enterprise ecosystem with the consumer ecosystem; and third, our comprehensive security offerings that help organizations protect their digital assets and users,” he explained.

Thriving through partnership

Google Cloud has several customer success stories over the past year. The tech giant helped Grupo Globo deliver the Tokyo Olympics to millions in Latin America; it has helped Ford transform its cars experience for customers, and also enabled Schrödinger speed up preclinical drug discovery by 60%. Besides, the company helped GE Appliances build the next generation of smart home appliances and partnered with Reliance Jio to automate its 5G network to serve billions of people and Vodafone to build a data platform to process a billion network events a day. The list is pretty long in the large enterprise segment.

It is also helping startups and unicorns pioneers to scale up and quickly meet customer demands. India’s social media and networking service ShareChat is using Google Cloud to connect 250 million active users in 15 different Indic languages. Spotify is using Google Cloud to deliver the best audio service to more than 365 million users around the world. And Shopify, Mercado Libre, and Instacart have all scaled their e-commerce solutions with Google Cloud. At the event the company announced new partnership with General Mills, Siemens Energy, Walmart and Wendy’s.

Kurian also spoke at length on expanding its partner ecosystem. “We continue to add many substantial partnerships that help us reach more customers. For example, we teamed with global telecom leaders such as Nokia, AT&T, T-Systems, and Ericsson to deliver 5G and edge computing solutions. We recently announced partnerships with companies like C3 AI and Workday, and we have continued to expand our work with SAP — in just the last year, we’ve added three times the number of SAP customers as the year prior,” he said.

At the event, the company announced more than 20 new and expanded partnerships with technology leaders across each of our strategic focus areas.

“To help organizations make better decisions with real-time data, we are making announcements with Collibra, Databricks, Fivetran, Informatica, Tableau, and Trifacta. We are also announcing partnerships with cybersecurity experts CrowdStrike, Palo Alto Networks and Cybereason to help address our customers’ rising security challenges.

In the first half of 2021, we saw a more than 175% increase in customer engagements sourced by our partners over the same period last year, and this week we’ll roll out additional resources, incentives, and investments through our Partner Advantage program to help partners go to market effectively, profitably, and at scale.

Focus on hybrid workplace and cyber security

The company comes up with its Google Workspace, a suite of offerings, which includes email and other services. Earlier, Google had announced the availability of client-side encryption (CSE) in beta for Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides on Workspace. It is now bringing this feature to Google Meet, which is the company’s video calling tool.

“With Google Workspace, we are delivering a powerful solution that helps people communicate and collaborate, no matter where they are. We are focused on creating a digital location for work that increases productivity with assistive tools like Smart Canvas, delivers a seamless user experience across products, and is inclusive of the unique collaboration requirements of frontline workers,” said Kurian.

Further, Google is adding Drive labels in Workspace, where organisations will now be able to classify files stored in Drive based on their sensitivity level. These labels integrate with Google Workspace Data Loss Prevention and thus make it easier to ensure that there is no external sharing, downloading, and printing of sensitive files.

The company also expanded its partnership with Citrix to ensure that distributed and hybrid workers have easy, secure, and low-latency access to virtualized applications and desktops from anywhere.

Kurian informed that in addition, the company is introducing new security innovations in Google Workspace to give customers stronger privacy and data security controls to prevent sensitive information from leaking outside their organization.

The company also announced the launch of a Google Cybersecurity Action Team (GCAT), which it says is made up of cybersecurity experts from across the company. This will function as a premier security advisory team to support clients such as governments, those in critical infrastructure, big enterprises, and even small businesses. It will provide advisory services, trust, and compliance services, and deliver customer security and solutions engineering to Google’s enterprise customers. It will also provide threat intelligence and incident response services to clients.

Distributed Cloud for Edge, on-premise offering

Google further announced Google Distributed Cloud, a portfolio of fully managed hardware and software solutions that extends Google Cloud’s infrastructure and services to the edge and into your data centres.

Google Distributed Cloud is built on Anthos, its infrastructure and application management platform. At launch, Cisco, Dell, HPE, and NetApp will support the service.

Using this cloud infrastructure, customers can migrate or modernize applications and process data locally with a set of Google Cloud services like databases, machine learning, data analytics, container management services, and third-party services from leading vendors.

sustainabilityCarbon footprint in the cloud

Further, as part of its efforts on sustainability, The company is announcing an expansion of our portfolio of carbon-free solutions and partnerships that will help reduce your carbon footprint, which allows customers to measure, track, and report on the carbon emissions associated with their Google Cloud Platform usage.

As Kurian said, “Over the past year, we have grown to 28 regions, connected by 19 subsea cables, making us the largest and lowest latency network among hyperscale cloud providers. And we’ve announced our plans to build 10 more regions globally, further expanding our ability to bring Google Cloud closer to customers in their countries.”

The company is also bringing Google Earth Engine to Google Cloud, enabling customers to use its satellite imagery and over 50 petabytes of geospatial data combined with BigQuery and Cloud AI Platform to solve for unique climate challenges.

Clear and compelling value proposition: Analyst

Ed Anderson, Research VP & Distinguished Analyst Gartner is positive that with the current product portfolio, Google Cloud can attract more enterprise customers and grow market share amid stiff competition from Amazon’s cloud arm AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Ed Anderson
Ed Anderson, Research VP & Distinguished Analyst Gartner

“Attracting customers is always the result of having a clear and compelling value proposition. Google has been steadily developing its cloud offerings to address a growing set of customer requirements and increase its value to customers. Google Cloud supports effectively all the primary features and functions organizations require from a primary cloud platform making Google Cloud a viable candidate to compete for that business,” says Ed.

Additionally, Ed opined that Google has some unique innovations in its multi-cloud approach, artificial intelligence, big data management and sustainability (among others). Google certainly has the means to compete for business, although Google faces stiff competition from Amazon and Microsoft and others.

However, Google continues to mature its go-to-market approach, including partner programs, and its reach into secondary markets, which are the key when offering a global service, Ed opines that Google Cloud offering supports the capabilities most organizations need to run their cloud-based applications. There are certainly niche areas where Amazon and/or Microsoft (and others) have feature and capability advantages over Google Cloud – and that area needs to be developed.

Sid Nag, Vice President, Cloud & Edge Services and Technologies, Gartner Research

Sid Nag, Vice President, Cloud & Edge Services and Technologies, Gartner Research too agreed that while Google Cloud is in the top 5 in Gartner’s Public cloud market share research report and are definitely on a growth trajectory, they need to focus on areas such as building a strong partner ecosystem and a strong sales force that is able to articulate the value and strengths of their cloud offering such as AI/ML, data & analytics among others.

Some of these latest Google Cloud announcements indicate that Google continues to innovate with its cloud offerings. For example, Google Distributed Cloud extends the reach of Google Cloud services to other locations in support of a more diverse set of use cases.

Additionally, Ed believes Google’s sustainability-focused offerings help customers reduce their carbon footprint when using Google Cloud is another good example. I think these are evidence of on-going innovation, and an awareness of its customers’ evolving needs.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at [email protected]