Google wants to change how it relates to enterprise customers, and it’s going to use Google Cloud to do so. Today at an event in San Francisco, it made announcements about machine learning, Kubernetes, and expansion of its Google Cloud Platform presence. But the bigger-picture news is that cloud will be taking a leading role at the company.
Google is bringing together its massive Google Cloud Platform (GCP), along with a new application platform called G Suite (formerly Google Apps). And it’s hiring 1,000 people to boost its cloud business. It’s also providing enterprises with new training and certification programs. This is all under one big umbrella called Google Cloud.
According to the search giant, enterprises are increasingly aligning their business strategies with their IT departments. “That gap is fast closing,” said Cornelius Willis, Google Cloud product marketing lead. “They want to use IT to capture new business opportunities.”
Google Cloud infuses the company’s portfolio from Google Chrome search, to application products via the new G Suite, to work products, to APIs. The Google Cloud vision is that it’s all running on a unified infrastructure. The end game is to beat Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
And the company is gunning for big customers. For instance, earlier this month, Diane Greene, who heads up Google’s cloud business, announced a cloud win with Evernote, a company that provides a popular note-taking app. Evernote plans to move 200 million of its private cloud users to Google.
“One of several reasons customers choose Google GCP is our capabilities in data and machine learning and analytics,” said Willis. “It’s starkly different than what our competitors offer.” Google sees machine learning as a growth opportunity for its cloud business, and it’s accelerating its use across all products. It’s into the second generation of its machine learning technology Tensorflow, which it has opened sourced.
“Customers have invested in data lakes; machine learning is a way they will harvest that value with the highest impact,” said Willis.
Today, Google announced the beta of its cloud machine learning software, where customers can use their own data to train models. It brings together Google’s cloud storage, BigQuery, and Cloud Datalab. Fully trained machine learning models from Google Cloud will allow a general developer to take advantage of machine learning capabilities with simple REST-based services.
The roadmap for Google’s machine learning includes cloud natural language and cloud speech.
For its BigQuery software, Google is adding flexibility for how customers pay. “With BigQuery, you just pay for it when you turn it on,” said Willis. “The problem is, people like BigQuery, but customers wanted some predictability.” So Google is offering the option of a flat-rate all-you-can-eat pricing agreement.
Kubernetes & Container Engine
Google is adding functionality to its Kubernetes container orchestration software. Kubernetes 1.4, in alpha, includes cross-cluster federation capabilities and federation across multiple clouds. Google began this process with Kubernetes 1.3. The company also will integrate Kubernetes with its global cloud load balancer. And it’s simplifying the installation of many commonly used packages, making it easier to get started with Kubernetes.
Company executives also say Google’s Container Engine is “growing like wildfire,” doubling every 90 days. New customers using Container Engine include Niantic, eBay, shopify, Philips, and Pokémon Go.
Expansion of Google Cloud Platform
In 2016, GCP increased its presence around the world to locations in Iowa, South Carolina, Taipei, Belgium, and Oregon. And it plans to launch a presence in Tokyo by the end of 2016.
Today, the company said it plans to expand its presence in seven more locales in 2017. Those locations are North Virginia, Australia, Germany, Brazil, India, Singapore, and the UK.
Google Cloud will support Microsoft products, including Windows, SQL Server, and Visual Studio. “We want to meet our customers where they are; customers have existing investments in code,” said Willis.
The company is a reseller of Windows, so customers can build their Windows stack on GCP. And Google will also offer Windows Server 2016 support.
In a similar vein, Google recently said it is acquiring the application programming interface (API) specialist Apigee in a deal worth roughly $625 million. Apigee’s cloud-based API platform will be available for GCP customers.
Finally, Google is expanding its cloud business to support enterprises’ use of Google Cloud. It’s adding consulting services and a technical account management team to provide assistance. And it’s creating a training system for two new certifications: Cloud Architect and Data Engineer.
“We are hiring 1,000 new go-to-market employees, connecting engineer-to-engineer,” said Willis. The goal is a ratio of tech staff to business people of one-to-three. “We think that’s a really important part of how we will change the game for the enterprise,” he said.