James Governor's Monkchips

Thoughts post Google Cloud Next ’20: OnAir

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It’s 2020 and I am still kind of stunned that Google Cloud ran a 9 week tech event – that’s a lot of real estate, especially considering the European-specific content appended to the event added another 5 weeks. So 14 week tech events – is that future? Maybe not. But – Google did a solid job of focusing on creating content you could dip into, and watch on YouTube, and certainly I appreciated not having to stay up til 3 am for 4 days or so, with a “normally” scoped conference. We reserve such pleasures for US elections. Microsoft took an alternative approach, having its Stakhanovite employees repeat their talks for 3 difference time zones.

But anyway – Google. Themes were all about the enterprise. I wrote this up earlier in the cycle – Google Cloud’s expanding enterprise footprint and the rise of the 10 year deal.

GCP is clearly doing things very differently under Kurian. The platform is now at the service of the market rather than the other way around. The move to cross-platform with Anthos, and the new BigQuery Omni platform (BigQuery on other clouds – oh, my) are indicators of a deep change at work. Google Cloud is no longer the best Platform. Now the best Platform is the one that the customer chooses. Google Cloud today feels a bit like IBM under Louis Gerstner, where the System was no longer the center of gravity, but rather the software, the integration, the middleware and services were. This is a significant philosophical shift, which will fundamentally change how Google Cloud does business.

A related indicator – watch any of the go to market talks from Google Next OnAir and watch for mentions of legacy technology. SAP, Oracle, mainframe migration. Mainframes, mainframes, mainframes. Just watch the relish with which Thomas Kurian mentions supporting enterprise customers with AS/400 workloads. Legacy is just a reality of enterprise IT, and while digital transformation is going to require a lot of infrastructure modernisation, rehosting, and refactoring, this is all going to take time.

Stephen also did a great job writing up his take on Google Cloud Platform as middleware. What is old is new again. BigQuery and the Middleware Play

A year ago this past April, remember, Google announced Anthos. Anthos was interesting not because it was a Kubernetes-based platform for hosting applications – there were many such then and there are more today. What differentiated the platform was that it was a cloud-independent piece of middleware offered by one of the cloud vendors themselves. Historically, a core approach of cloud vendors to the market has been attracting workloads to their platforms via proprietary offerings.

With Anthos, Google inverted that model, taking the proprietary software platform and decoupling it from the underlying cloud. This is notable because it represented a change of strategy, as noted, but also because it’s a heavy lift technically. It’s much easier to get a platform stack operating in one environment than it is in multiple.

Enterprises generally like portability, or more particularly the promise of portability. Enterprises also like support and hand-holding – which is beginning to pay dividends in Europe. While OnAit began with a couple of really big EU wins, another couple of deals announced later were also interesting.

Traditional mid-sized German manufacturing companies are rethinking their IT estate and business models with Industry 4.0 initiatives. Kaeser Kompressoren, a company that makes compressed air equipment now says it sells “Air as a Service”.  It is working with GCP for new apps like predictive maintenance and after sales support to customers and distributors around the world. In September Google announced that Deutsche Börse is migrating its VMware and SAP workloads to Google Cloud, and modernising its software development processes. starting with dev/test. It plans to invest in Kubernetes running on Google. It also signed up Reckitt Benckiser, the Anglo Dutch consumer goods company. Mid-sized wins, announced in September, allowed GCP to give a feeling of momentum even at the tail end of OnAir.

My colleague Kelly had this to say about the format.

The clearly organized and distributed nine-week format at times made me feel like I was taking something between a quarter-length and semester-length graduate course on Google Cloud, but the distributed schedule and on-demand format let me focus on different areas in my own time: a nice contrast to events that have demanded my concentrated attention to follow real-time broadcasts (although such real-time events have their merits).

We both recorded videos of our take on proceedings, which you might enjoy. They’re short and to the point.




Google Cloud is a client, and sponsored this video content. VMware is also a client.

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