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Google Cloud Plots a Path for What's Next

With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the need for digital transformation, Google's leadership defines the role of its cloud services for helping with recovery at its virtual Google Cloud Next conference.

Google kicked off the first week of its Next conference on July 14 with a series of incremental cloud announcements and some insight into the strategic direction for the months ahead.

Google Cloud Next has long been Google's largest cloud conference, but this year's event is like no other. Originally planned to be an in-person event at San Francisco's Moscone Center in April, Google had to reschedule and reimagine Next '20 as a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rather than simply spanning a few sequential days, Google decided to spread out the Next event over the period of nine weeks, with a different highlighted topic each week. The focus of the opening event was industry insights about the current state of work and how the cloud is the foundation for enabling resilience and recovery.

"As economies start to reopen, it’s clear we’re returning to a world much different than the one we left," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during his opening keynote address.

Among the long-term trends Pichai sees emerging from the pandemic is a future of work that will be more digital. In recent months, there has been an acceleration of businesses moving to digital services, as there has been an increase in online work, education, health care, shopping and entertainment, he said. As organizations of all types move to digital delivery formats, Pichai said there will be more investment and usage in the cloud.

The Future of Work Will Be More Collaborative

A key driver of organizations' digital transformations and migrations to the cloud in the COVID-19 era is the need for more collaboration than ever before.

Pichai said it might sound counter-intuitive that the need for collaboration has grown. "You might think that increases in remote work would lead to more independent work," he said. "We’re finding the opposite may be true. Companies are investing to keep teams connected and create community virtually."

Core parts of remote collaboration are cloud productivity suites and video conferencing, which have made it easier for millions of people to work remotely during the pandemic. The increased collaboration will also help facilitate a hybrid world environment in the future, with employees working both in offices and remotely.

"As work becomes more digital, collaborative and flexible, customers will turn to the cloud to innovate for future growth and to navigate economic shifts," Pichai said.

Google Cloud Expands Services

Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, outlined a series of incremental additions to Google Cloud during the opening Next event.

Among the new services announced by Kurian is Confidential VMs, the first product in Google Cloud’s Confidential Computing portfolio. The new service provides encryption for running virtual machines on Google Cloud.

"Confidential Computing allows you, as a customer, to run workloads in Google Cloud and to ensure that data is not only encrypted at rest and in transit but is even encrypted while it's being processed," Kurian said. "This gives you the ability to ensure that all your data is protected all the time when it is being processed with Google."

Google is also expanding the capabilities of its Kubernetes-based Anthos multi-cloud service. Kurian noted that Anthos can now run on AWS and is in preview on Microsoft Azure. For on-premises users, Kurian announced that Google is introducing a bare-metal version of Anthos that can run on existing hardware platforms from Cisco, Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In addition, Kurian announced the launch of the Google Cloud Customer to Community (C2C) effort. C2C is intended to be an independent customer community for helping customers learn from each other as well as providing feedback to Google on how to enhance services.

"This is a very defining moment for all of us around the world, to have the hope and the optimism to reimagine your business as you recover from the pandemic," Kurian said. "We at Google take our responsibility to support you in that mission."

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