Cloud

Google Cloud Next 2018: 3 big themes for business leaders and tech pros

At its annual cloud conference, Google courted developers, added AI features, and debuted a new platform.

On Tuesday, Google kicked off the first keynote for its 2018 Google Cloud Next conference, announcing new partnerships, tools, technologies, and more to build out its ecosystem.

As one of the top-three cloud providers (alongside Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure), Google had carved out a niche for itself, working with startups and smaller companies in its early days. However, it's now a serious contender for enterprise clientele, with a big data and machine learning background to bolster its product catalog.

At the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, the firm's announcements touched on three key themes: Artificial intelligence (AI), developers, and unified cloud.

SEE: Cloud migration decision tool (Tech Pro Research)

1. AI in G Suite

Google has made a name for itself as the top cloud provider in terms of its AI offerings. Now, the company is extending more of that AI expertise into G Suite, its cloud-based set of office software.

In a blog post, Google Cloud's vice president of app, Prabhakar Raghavan, noted that the following updates are coming to G Suite:

  • Security center investigation tool
  • Data regions
  • Smart Reply in Hangouts Chat
  • Smart Compose
  • Grammar Suggestions in Google Docs
  • Voice commands in Hangouts Meet hardware

While not all of these update have an explicit connection to AI or machine learning, many of them are powered by those technologies in some way or another. These changes help to simplify work and collaboration across G Suite, and enable users to "let machines do the mundane work," the post said.

2. Direct to developers

As noted, AI is Google's calling card in the cloud. As part of the day one keynote, Google AI chief scientist Fei-Fei Li detailed new products and enhancements aimed at helping developers do more with their data.

Detailed in a blog post, Li noted that Cloud AutoML Vision, AutoML Natural Language, and AutoML Translation are available in beta to help developers recognize new categories of images, text, and language. Hearst Newspapers, for example, is using AutoML Natural Language to bring custom universal taxonomy to its content, the post said.

Additionally Dialogflow Enterprise Edition is getting updates for more accurate speech recognition and to provide better text-to-speech capability, along with telephony integration. Finally, Contact Center AI uses virtual agents and an AI assist tool to "elevate every aspect of the customer service experience, from start to finish," the post said.

3. Unified cloud

At Next, Google also unveiled the Cloud Services Platform, a family of cloud services. Urs Hölzle, Google's vice president of technical infrastructure, tackled these changes in a blog post where he mentioned the platform's goal is to improve speed, reliability, security, and governance; while also "automating away low-value and insecure tasks across your on-premise and Google Cloud infrastructure," the post said.

Here are the updates that will be a part of the new platform, as noted in the blog:

  • Service mesh: Availability of Istio 1.0 in open source, Managed Istio, and Apigee API Management for Istio
  • Hybrid computing: GKE On-Prem with multi-cluster management
  • Policy enforcement: GKE Policy Management, to take control of Kubernetes workloads
  • Ops tooling: Stackdriver Service Monitoring
  • Serverless computing: GKE Serverless add-on and Knative, an open source serverless framework
  • Developer tools: Cloud Build, a fully managed CI/CD platform

For more information on the Google Cloud Services Platform, check out this article on our sister site, ZDNet.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • At the Google Cloud Next 2018 conference, the firm announced updates to its G Suite strategy, new AI tools for developers, and a new platform for a unified cloud approach.
  • Google has long seen success in its AI and machine learning efforts, and now it is fully realizing their potential among enterprise customers and developers.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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