We had the opportunity to attend Google Next 2019, held from April 9th till 11th 2019 at the Moscone Center and adjacent hotels in San Francisco. Attendance with over 30k registrants (my estimate about 20k present, comparing to Dreamforce and Oracle OpenWorld), and a large mix of exhibitors across Moscone South makes Google Next a major player in the cloud conference circuit. What a difference to the initial event held on a San Francisco pier with maybe 1000 attendees at best – in 2016 only three years back.
Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn't show up, check here):
Digital Transformation and Verticals are added to the leitmotiv – Not surprisingly with Kurian there was the entry of the three-bullet slide – what matters are the new messages and since Google Next, they are Digital Transformation and Verticals. Both not brand new, from an influence perspective Digital Transformation is already a bit 'tired' but to be fair most enterprises have not been digitally transformed. Messaging needs to appeal to the bulk of existing and prospective customers, and this will likely work. Verticals are a new message, but something that the 'As' (how Google refers to Amazon and Azure) have woken up to as well. But Kurian brings a SaaS perspective: When I asked him if Google can win in Verticals without SaaS offerings – he smartly replied with the Media industry as an example where Google can play (and traditional ERP vendors have fallen short, as Kurian knows first hand from Oracle).
|Kurian with his 3 Google Cloud Differentiators|
Google goes multi-cloud with Anthos – Enterprises have not been more worried about cloud lock-in than today. An almost irrational fear in the current day, given that the best cross cloud aka multi-cloud capabilities exist with Kubernetes. But Google is raising the ante on this, by releasing Anthos – a Google supported Kubernetes version across Google, but also Amazon and Azure. Kubernetes having won and gained the support of all major IaaS and the combination of Google being the 'parent' of Kubernetes help here. But we witness the first cloud offering supported by one of the big three vendors on the other's infrastructure. The keynote demos moving a Kubernetes load to / from AWS got its attention. Combined with the GKE on premises capabilities Google now offers the biggest vendor supported range of Kubernetes capabilities. The portability is something enterprises want, but with vendor support 'guaranteeing' the interoperability, we expect the offering to blossom (pun intended, Anthos, Greek, means flower).
|Google Anthos is GA - 1st Vendor Supported Cross Cloud and on Prem Compute Plane|
A new approach to opensource that the enterprise will like - -Google announced a new stance as an IaaS vendor towards popular open source products – by offering them directly, in combination with the vendors and with a unified billing and support. Unified billing is tricky – but can be done. A single number for support is even more challenging and we will have to see how Google and its partners will pull that off. Certainly possible, but definitively what enterprises want. CxOs don't' want to manage the complexity of their next generation applications down to every dependency on the commercial side – and enterprises users want one number to call for support issues. The new stance towards the open source vendors also gives Google a good relationship position vs. e.g. AWS, where vendors are a little more concerned about AWS taking their core offering, improving it (with mixed reviews, depending on who you ask) and then offering it themselves directly. A better relationship to the vendors that enterprises need to power their next generation applications is a smart strategy.
Key push across the board – instances, AI, tools, vertical apps – Over 300 enhancements and announcements are impossible to digest, but Google showed its broadest push across the product portfolio. No surprise, Google pushes its AI offerings into more end user friendly tools, raising GSuite sheets to be a BigData Explorer and giving AI tools in the hands of end users. If Google can win here, it can create substantial load for Google Cloud. Plug-ins for developer to build Kubernetes and Serverless (KNative) apps are a smart move to meet developers in their 'living room', the IDE. New memory tuned instances (6 and 12 TB) are tuned to accommodate the largest in memory loads (aka SAP customers). Google is working hard to capture more than a relative share of the SAP load and it is well on the way with that effort. Lastly vertical apps are coming, like e.g. a retail API. It will be interesting how Google will go ahead with these vertical AI apps, without getting into the SaaS field (it has already in HCM with Google Hire).
MyPOVVery few vendors manage to build up a second technology business. One can argue, that Google's core business, advertisement is not a technology business – but it's technology that powers it. To some degree Google has take the opposite rout of enterprises – that pick cloud technology to become a software company. Google was a software company and had to build cloud technology to power its software. It gives it a unique stance from an offering DNA, compared to Microsoft – who was / is an enterprise software company needing a cloud platform, and to Amazon / AWS – who was / is a e-retailer who needed a cloud as well. The difference is that Google had to build for global and fast coverage, therefore the Google network rules superior across the field of AWS players. And it had to optimize for general scale – of advertisement, of email, of mobile management and for billions of users. In the first phase of Google Cloud, the vendor failed to realize that its value proposition was too different (though attractive) to get the enterprise on board. In the next phase Google tried to address this with bringing in Diane Greene, but to me Google felt like a two dimensional 'mouse trap' – with 'just' great IaaS / PaaS and AI / ML. We are getting in the 3rd phase with Thomas Kurian, were certainly enterprise is going to be addressed. I expect also the Google offerings to show more consistency. Lesser noted at Google Next – but in the press, Kurian addressed that Google was 'outsold' on personnel level side – with only having about 10% of the salesforce headcount than the two 'As'. Kurian knows the sales machine at Oracle well, so I expect him to deliver an improved copy of that sales structure.
On the concern side, it is high time for Google to show some success, if it does not want to remain the 'third cloud' for a long long time. Multi-cloud capabilities, offered by an IaaS player, coupled with on premises run time, a better way to manage and support open source a great first steps, but they must deliver in customer wins and market share. Too early to tell if Google can pull this off.
But overall an impressive event, Google is making steps into the right directions, now it needs to execute. And Kurian is all about execution. Check my 8 point checklist here.
Don't miss my Twitter Moments - below is the Day #1 Keynote and here is the one of the Analyst Day (if they don't show up – check here).