Google Stresses Hybrid, Security, All-In Customers At Cloud Next ‘21

By Patrick Moorhead - November 17, 2021
Google Cloud

Two weeks ago was busy for us tech analysts, tech events from Google, Apple and Dell. First on the docket was Google Cloud Next—Google’s annual conference for its enterprise customers and developers, held virtually for the second year in a row. There were many announcements to sift through, but this year’s big headlines revolved around Google’s entry into the distributed cloud space, a big data push and the introduction of new AI-enhanced cloud solutions. I was also struck by home many “all-in” customers it rolled out. While there isn’t enough time or space to cover everything out of the event, I’ll drill down on several announcements that I found particularly compelling. 

Google Distributed Cloud

When Google first introduced Anthos, I thought it would really lean into it. I got the sense, though, that something was slowing it down and as I saw a litany of AWS Outposts articles come out, I think AWS started to get momentum. Will the latest Anthos announcements make a difference? ON paper, yes, I believe they will.

The most significant announcement, in my book, was the launch of Google Distributed Cloud, a portfolio of fully managed hardware and software solutions that Google says will bring the power of Google Cloud to the intelligent edge and data center. Designed specifically for this frontier, Google Distributed Cloud customers will gain access to various Google Cloud services for local processing: databases, machine learning, data analytics and container management. Additionally, Google touts the new offering’s ability to support low-latency edge compute workloads, the modernization of on-prem environments, sensitive workloads with sovereignty requirements and private 5G/LTE solutions. 

At the heart of Google Distributed Cloud is Anthos, an open-source-based services platform that promises consistent, scalable performance across various environments. These environments include customer data centers and colocation facilities (and their high-stakes security and privacy needs), customer edge (retail stores, factories, branch offices), operator edge (providing access to 5G/LTE services via service provider partners) and Google’s network edge, which includes more than 140 Google network edge locations globally. 

Google also lined up an excellent roster of partners that will support the service upon its launch, including the likes of Dell, Cisco, HPE and NetApp. The company says that Google Distributed Cloud customers will utilize third-party services from these partners within their dedicated environment. 

For now, there are two initial offerings in the Google Distributed Cloud portfolio—Google Distributed Cloud Edge, now in preview, promises to take Google’s infrastructure and services to where data is generated and analyzed. The offering enables G Core and radio access network (RAN) functions, which Google says will benefit Google AI edge inferencing, computer vision and other mission-critical applications.

Google Distributed Cloud Hosted, meanwhile, targets public sector customers and commercial enterprises with stringent security, privacy and residency needs for modernizing their on-premises deployments. Leveraging a local control plane powered by Anthos, this solution enables customers to securely manage their infrastructure, services, APIs, and tooling without ever connecting to the Google Cloud. You read that right—Google Distributed Cloud Hosted does not require connectivity (shots fired, Outposts). This offering will preview in the first half of next year. 

Google Cloud Platform GOOGLE

We also learned at the event that Google has extended its global cloud infrastructure into four new regions: Warsaw, Delhi, Melbourne and Toronto. With these additions, Google Cloud now operates in 28 regions worldwide—making it, according to Google, “the largest and lowest latency network among hyperscale cloud providers.” Google also announced future availability in another handful of new regions: Berlin-Brandenburg, Columbus, OH, Israel, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Santiago, Saudi Arabia and Turin. 

These extensions are all about data sovereignty, performance, and reliability.

Timely security offerings for the enterprise

Cybersecurity was also a hot topic at the event, as it has been in the industry at large lately. As the enterprise landscape becomes increasingly hybridized, bad actors have rushed to take advantage of new, emerging opportunities to exploit. The pandemic only accelerated these changes, forcing many businesses to adapt quickly to support a remote workforce.

Against that backdrop, Google lifted the curtain on its new Google Cybersecurity Action Team—a task force of Google cybersecurity experts dedicated to supporting the digitization of governments, critical infrastructure and businesses of all sizes. This support will come via strategic advisory services, trust and compliance services, security customer and solutions engineering, threat intelligence, and incident response services.

The new team also revealed a framework designed to guide organizations through implementing a “comprehensive security management program” that leverages Google and its partners’ cloud security technologies. Google says this roadmap complies with the standards outlined in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework. 

The Google Cybersecurity Action Team is part of a massive $10 billion commitment Google announced in August to bolster cybersecurity. Google has also committed to expanding zero trust programs, securing software supply chain frameworks, improving open-source security and generally improving the American workforce’s digital security hygiene. All in all, while I’m not a huge fan of the name, I think Google’s Cybersecurity Action Team is exactly what enterprises are looking for. Furthermore, I think Google is an excellent company to bring it. 

Google also announced Work Safer, another well-timed security offering that is essentially a security package for hybrid work (Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced this one at the event, so you know it must be special). Work Safer’s zero-trust, browser-based security approach negates the need for local devices, apps, security add-ons and email attachments. It employs built-in controls, encryption and verification to support workers wherever they are, on both company-provided or BYOD endpoints—no VPN, patching or strong account takeover protections necessary.  

The all-in-one package includes Google Workspace and an array of security solutions across Google’s portfolio. These include BeyondCorp Enterprise, which provides secure access with integrated threat and data protection, reCAPTCHA Enterprise for website fraud protection, Chrome Enterprise for desktop management, Chronicle for security analytics, Titan Security Keys and mobile security and controls for its Pixel and Android devices. Google’s cybersecurity partners, CrowdStrike and Palo Alto Networks provide additional layers of protection from cybercrime. 

Google is good at security and these are smart and timely service adders.

AI news

In the realm of AI, Google revealed Contact Center AI Insights, a new offering in its CCAI product suite. By providing customers with a more granular look at their contact center interaction data, Google says CCAI Insights will help them make data-driven business decisions that drive better organizational efficiency. For example, CCAI Insights uses AI to illuminate and identify the topics customers most frequently need contact center support on, allowing analysts to quickly identify problem areas within their organizations that could benefit from further investment. 

Additionally, CCAI Insights provides AI-driven, automatic highlighting of essential parts of conversations, such as complaints, requests for a supervisor or instances when a contact center agent attempts to put a customer on hold. Additionally, CCAI Insights leverages Cloud NLP integration to ascertain customer and agent sentiment in support conversations, identify common keywords using entity extraction and then assign entity sentiment to those common keywords. 

CCAI Insights also leverages NLP technologies to provide analysts with automated topic modeling. Based on user-created unsupervised models of conversational data, CCAI Insights can automatically build a taxonomy of conversation drivers. 

Customer wins

Of course, no tech show would be complete without sharing some recent customer wins and testimonials. Google showcased several new global customers who are utilizing Google Cloud to transform their businesses. We learned that General Mills has selected Google as its preferred cloud partner to unleash the power of data, analytics and AI across the company. Wendy’s, for its part, has turned to Google Cloud’s analytics, AI, and other cloud tools to innovate on the classic drive-thru model. The goal is to provide a more frictionless experience for customers, allowing them to order using their mobile devices and other touchpoint mediums. 

Google also announced a new multi-year partnership with Siemens Energy, in which Google will help the energy giant migrate its global datacenter network and SAP systems into the cloud. Lastly, DPDHL (Deutsche Post DHL Group) and Google shared they’ve been partnering to develop scalable cloud services to transform DPDHL Group’s burgeoning logistics business. 

For years, Google rolled out a litany of all-in “born in the cloud” companies or large companies that appreciated Google’s data and AI capabilities. These new customers were not born in the cloud and had engagements beyond data and AI. This is a good sign for Google as it needs more of these type of engagements for growth.

Wrapping up

I believe what we see now is the latest salvo in the battle for multi-cloud, which will likely dominate the tech landscape as we know it for the next ten years. And from what I saw at Google Cloud Next ’21, I believe the company truly “brought it.” Whether we’re looking at Google Distributed Cloud, the company’s new hybrid cybersecurity offerings or the continued expansion of Google Cloud’s AI-powered toolkit, Google is making a solid argument on all fronts for its role in the modern, multi-cloud enterprise. You don’t have to look any further than the recent customer wins to see how Google Cloud’s overall value prop is improving. Stay tuned and watch for Amazon and Microsoft’s response—it’s going to get interesting. 

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article. 

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.