Google Cloud Next 2020

While physical events are slowly making a comeback in Southeast Asia, it’s a different scenario across the world. With COVID-19 cases still high in most of Europe and the Americas, many conferences and events still need to be held in a virtual space.

Such was the case for Google Cloud Next as well. The annual Google Cloud Next conference was conducted online with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, delivering the opening message via a video recording. In his message, he said that recent estimates show that public cloud penetration is increasing by 20% by 2023. He added that the future of work would be more collaborative as companies are investing in keeping teams connected virtually and also be more flexible.

“We are still working on a foundation that was made over conference tables a couple of months ago. The next phase will be more unstructured, requiring all of us to invest in creative solutions and evolve our tools to facilitate collaboration. As work becomes more digital, collaborative and flexible, customers will turn to the Cloud for future growth and navigate economic shifts.”

Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud highlighted how technology continues to play an important role in the fight against COVID-19 and the future of humanity. He also spoke about several announcements made by Google during the summit, which we highlight below.

“Our mission is to accelerate every organisation’s ability to digitally transform and reimagine their business through data-powered innovation.”

The Big Announcement
Journalists from around the world attend a virtual press briefing the week before the main event during which Kristen Kliphouse, President North America of Google Cloud gave us a glimpse on some of the key announcements that would be made. Interestingly, despite all the preparations made, even Kristen herself had technical issues on their own Google Meet platform. Still, the team was very professional in handling the situation with Jeannette Manfra, Director of Google Security and Compliance continuing the briefing on some of the major announcements.

According to Jeannette, as companies continue to embrace digital transformation, an important part of this journey is security. She explained that security can be both a blocker and an enabler to digital transformation. Which is why most organisations are now adopting a zero-trust approach to security as well as encrypting everything and automating processes.

Google understands the importance and concerns organisations have when it comes to security. As Sunil Potti, GM and VP of Cloud Security, Google Cloud puts it, customers today are looking at both privacy and compliance when it comes to security. For privacy, he said that the biggest concern is protecting sensitive data in which Google has an end to end holistic capabilities for enforcing and monitoring sensitive data. For compliance, organisations want solutions to support compliance standards without any problems and complexity.

To address this, Google is introducing the Google Cloud Confidential Computing with Confidential VMs and Assured Workloads for Governments.  Both underscore Google Cloud’s commitment to serving customers in highly regulated and security-sensitive industries, such as the public sector, healthcare, and financial services.

Google Cloud Confidential Computing with Confidential VMs
Google Cloud encrypts data at-rest and in-transit, but customer data must be decrypted for processing. Confidential Computing is a breakthrough which encrypts data in-use - while it is being processed. Confidential Computing environments keep data encrypted in memory and elsewhere outside the Central Processing Unit (CPU). This technology will transform the way organisations process data in the cloud, maintain control over their data, and preserve confidentiality. 

Confidential VMs is the first product in Google Cloud’s Confidential Computing portfolio. Google Cloud already employs a variety of isolation and sandboxing techniques as part of its cloud infrastructure to help make its multi-tenant architecture secure. Confidential VMs takes this to the next level by offering memory encryption so that customers can further isolate workloads in the cloud. Google Cloud is the first major cloud provider to offer this level of security and isolation while giving customers an easy-to-use solution that doesn’t require changing code in apps or compromising performance.
Assured Workloads for Governments
For government agencies that want to modernise IT with cloud technologies, ensuring the security, privacy, and regulatory compliance of their workloads is imperative. To address this, many cloud providers have built separate environments (also known as “government clouds”) to meet the strict compliance requirements for processing government data. This results in government agencies having to run on less feature-rich, fortressed versions of commercial clouds to meet their needs. 
Google Cloud’s Assured Workloads for Government offers customers the ability to easily and quickly create controlled environments in which U.S. data location and personnel access controls are automatically enforced. Assured Workloads for Government enables federal, state, and local agencies to serve critical workloads that leverage the latest cloud capabilities, without compromising on compliance.

According to Sunil, most compliance professionals are not technologists, but they are needed to ensure every part of the organisation and technology used meets compliance, and this is what Assured Workloads assures.

When asked if Assured Workloads can be customised to other countries compliance requirements, Sunil said, “All of our controls are built for global consistency and a global footprint. Individual countries may have their own cloud regulations, local laws, and such. We enable this as software instead of hardware compared to others that just build hardware there. We are using software control to meet the same capabilities. This is how we approach security in specific countries”.

BigQuery Omni
Most organisations prefer a multi-cloud approach in their transformation journey but have trouble breaking down silos to get actionable business insights. To address this, Google Cloud has announced BigQuery Omni, a multi-cloud analytics solution that enables customers to bring the power of BigQuery to data stored in Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure (in the near future). BigQuery Omni provides enterprises with the flexibility they need without having to pay expensive egress fees for moving data from other cloud providers to Google Cloud. 


Powered by Google Cloud’s Anthos, BigQuery Omni will allow customers to seamlessly connect directly to their data across Google Cloud, AWS and Azure for analysis without having to move or copy datasets. Through a single user interface, customers will be able to analyse data in the region where it is stored, providing a unified analytics experience.

Improving Technology
During the press briefing, Kristen also highlighted Google Cloud’s latest collaboration with various organisations from around the world. FOX Sports announced it is working with Google Cloud to automate one of the most manual processes in media and entertainment - logging, discovering and storing video assets. The system, already in development, will utilise Google Cloud’s video search and advanced machine-learning capabilities to help the network unlock the value of its vast sports content archive in a more effective way.

Meanwhile, Verizon customers in search of support may soon find a more natural and streamlined digital experience, thanks to a new collaboration with Google Cloud. What they won’t see behind this experience is the conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can help customer care agents respond to customer queries, as well as assist consumers directly.

The Google Cloud Contact Center AI solution will help empower shorter call times, quicker resolutions and improved outcomes for customer satisfaction.

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