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A Beginner's Guide to Cloud Computing Technology

When organizations talk about the “cloud”, they aren’t referring to that white ball of fluff in the sky on a nice day. The term “cloud” refers to a network of servers made up of information, software, and applications. Cloud computing is defined as the delivery of all of these components over a network or internet connection. There are distinct cloud computing technology services and cloud deployment models, as well as many cloud computing benefits for businesses.  Cloud Computing Services  Internet as a Service (IaaS)IaaS, also known as “infrastructure as a service,” is where third-party cloud computing providers offer computing infrastructure, such as networks and storage hosted in a virtual environment, so that any user can have access to it. It is primarily owned by the service provider and is usually accessed on a pay-as-you-go basis, making it cost-efficient for organizations. Additionally, IaaS is an impactful approach for projects or work that is temporary and subject to drastic changes. An example would be a company testing a new product and wanting to stay within a flexible budget. Platform as a Service (PaaS)Platform as a service is defined as complete deployment of the cloud. This service relies on the cloud provider for tools and infrastructure, providing developers with an environment that is already highly supported when creating apps. This allows developers to better use their time as it reduces the amount of code that developers must write themselves. Overall, the cloud provider supplies the infrastructure, including the network, storage, and middleware, and the developers simply select the environments they want to build or test in. Software as a Service (SaaS)Software as a service is where users access application software through a web browser or desktop system. It is a licensed model, as the software is provided through a subscription basis and the cloud computing infrastructure is delivered to end users through an internet browser. Major advantages of this service include its affordability, due to the subscription process, and convenient maintenance, as the provider supports the environment.  Cloud Computing Deployment Models Cloud computing deployment models define how a cloud platform is set up as well as which users have access to it. There are four main types. Public CloudThe public cloud model is the environment in which resources are owned by a cloud computing provider and can be accessed by multiple organizations. Users may differentiate in terms of data and applications that are being used. However, they are all accessing the infrastructure from the same provider. Public cloud offers users scalability, as the provider is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and any updates associated with it. This allows companies to cut cloud computing costs, as they do not have to invest in an entire IT team to operate the cloud computing infrastructure. Private Cloud The private cloud is a deployment model whereby the infrastructure is dedicated to a specific user, making it a single tenant environment. Cloud computing is hosted privately within the organization’s individual data center and cannot be accessed by other users. This model provides an extra layer of cloud security by restricting access, and is created by virtualization technology. Cloud storage resources are combined from physical hardware into pools that can then be shared. A layer of hardware is then added that keeps it separate from any other user’s infrastructure, enhancing cloud computing security. Hybrid CloudA hybrid cloud model uses a combination of one private cloud and one public cloud by managing workloads through both environments. It is operated through hybrid cloud management tools, which assist in both environments, operating in sync depending on the needs of an organization. This is accomplished through a function called cloud bursting, where workloads that are normally hosted on site or within the private cloud are expanded by the public cloud to meet the dynamic needs of the user. Multicloud Multicloud environments allow an organization to use at least two providers for cloud computing. They can involve various combinations, such as two or more public and private clouds. Companies can then utilize multiple cloud computing providers based on business needs or their strategy with regard to cloud computing. A multicloud solution is rooted in being accessible across the cloud computing infrastructure. It combines multiple providers, including SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS to form the architecture. This cloud model provides high flexibility as users are not tied to one vendor and can select cloud-based services from various providers based on their goals. Advantages of Cloud Computing Solutions Flexibility Organizations can choose what type of cloud deployment model or approach works best for fluctuating needs and workloads, providing a strong sense of flexibility. Whether an organization requires extra bandwidth or cloud storage, they are able to scale their needs and work within their budget in regards to cloud computing. CostCompanies on the cloud do not have to invest in their own hardware or equipment, reducing their cloud computing costs and overall spending. The maintenance and upkeep are the responsibility of the provider, which saves an organization resources. In addition, businesses can use the  pay-as-you-go model, allowing users to work with cloud computing within a budget. Data Security Cloud computing security features provide an extra layer of protection to stop breaches before they happen. There is often baseline protection for data, including authentication and encryption to secure information that is confidential within the cloud. This creates an environment where companies can work with confidential data and workloads. Scalability Scalability in cloud computing allows the user to increase or decrease their resources in order to adapt to shifting priorities. Certain needs, such as cloud data storage capacity, can be scaled through cloud computing infrastructure, which is beneficial when organizations experience sudden changes. Deployment SpeedCompanies are able to experience the benefits of cloud computing with just a few clicks. Fast cloud deployment reduces the time individuals and teams have to use to access resources, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of work that is required, such as maintaining or updating a database. Collaboration Cloud computing allows employees within a business to deliver and share corporate content at any time with any device, promoting a collaborative environment. For example, cloud computing tools support changes within data or documents. Users will automatically receive changes in real time, ensuring that employees have access to the most recently updated version. Cloud Computing In the Real World Workspot, an organization providing a SaaS platform that delivers Windows 10 Cloud PCs to devices, applies cloud computing technology to many of their daily operations. One cloud computing use case that delivers fast time-to-value and high ROI for the organization is end-user computing (EUC). Most enterprises are rethinking their end-user computing strategies and looking to the cloud to modernize. Key drivers for EUC modernization initiatives include:Hybrid and remote work is now mainstream. IT teams must be able to flexibly provide the right resources to end users, and then adapt quickly when requirements change.  Persistent supply chain issues continue to limit access to new hardware, so reusing existing hardware and switching to low cost endpoints is important. Budget constraints in a tough economic environment require creative solutions and innovation. SaaS solutions are strong contenders for lowering IT costs. An ever-changing threat landscape is challenging IT and risk management teams to examine zero-trust security policy from every angle. What Does EUC Modernization Look Like In the Real World? Workspot CEO Amitabh Sinha says, “Leveraging Cloud PCs can provide organizations with the scalability and cost efficiencies they need to mitigate the major pain points their users face. Replacing a physical PC with a Cloud PC provides secure access from any device or browser while maintaining high performance, total security, and the best user experience. Cloud PCs also future-proof end-user computing, so organizations are ready for the next technology wave––and the next business upheaval. This is why we are seeing end-user computing modernization initiatives across industries.” Extra Credit: ​​​​​​ 

Categories:Hybrid and MulticloudCloud OperationsGoogle Cloud Partners

5 Cloud Trends to Track in 2023

The following article was written by C2C Global President Josh Berman (@josh.berman) as a member exclusive for TechCrunch. The original article is available here. In many ways, 2022 was a year of growth for the cloud technology space. Unpredictable macroeconomic developments saw many organizations thinking about and preparing for greater wins in the years to come instead of right away.In 2023, much of this preparation could come to fruition as the growth achieved in 2022 contributes to a stronger economy and rapid advancements, particularly in tech.Global IT spending is projected to climb by 5.1% to $4.6 trillion in 2023, according to Gartner, driven by a 11.3% increase in investments in cloud applications to $879.62 billion. What does this kind of increased spending and investment mean for organizations? C2C Global, a Google Cloud customer community, has identified five cloud trends to watch in 2023. “Moving forward, custom solutions, rather than one-size-fits-all offerings from individual providers, will increasingly become the norm.” AI and ML tech adoption will rise Every organization wants to harness the many and varied capabilities of AI and ML technology. Some want to use their data to enhance analytics and build predictive models, and others want to automate repeatable processes.Currently, many AI and ML models require extensive testing and training before they can be implemented at scale across large organizations hosting petabytes of data or serving wide customer bases. In fact, C2C’s research has found that only 47% of respondents are currently using AI and ML. However, these technologies ranked high among the ones that respondents hope to adopt in the future.The promise of these technologies is too significant to ignore. As models are refined, and training and testing become more reliable and automatic, organizations will come to rely on these technologies more. We’ll see more low-code/no-code app development platforms Partly due to the rush to adopt AI and ML technologies that still require a lot of maintenance to perform reliably at scale, development teams are likely to implement low-code and no-code applications to reap the benefits of these technologies without the burden.For skilled developers, low-code and no-code options promise a lower barrier to entry for introducing and managing complex models. Significant savings in terms of time and cost, as always, will also be a massive draw. More organizations will host resources in multicloud environments Every cloud strategy requires delicate analysis to determine the proper balance of cost, efficiency, performance, scalability and security. For a lot of organizations, sticking with a major cloud provider promises attractive savings that make a lot of practical sense.However, as cloud technology grows, individual products will be just as attractive to companies prioritizing scaling and transformation. Moving forward, even for companies using one cloud provider, adopting and implementing new resources from other providers may add value, and custom solutions, rather than one-size-fits-all offerings from individual providers, will increasingly become the norm. Remote work tools will continue to improve While remote work emerged during the pandemic as an emergency measure, the tools developed to accommodate it are now available as part of the expanded landscape of hybrid work technology. As AR and VR technology become more viable, organizations will continue to introduce and adopt new means of building a work environment that suits the needs of a diverse and changing workforce. Cloud adoption will increase in formerly resistant sectors Until recently, organizations in the government and financial services used to resist transformation due to the risk and burden of retiring entrenched legacy systems and migrating massive amounts of data. Lately, though, the advantages of cloud adoption have been harder to ignore, and more organizations in these industries are adapting accordingly.For example, the U.S. Army recently said it would start using Google Workspace for its personnel operations. This expansion into previously less served areas of the cloud market speaks volumes for cloud adoption.

Categories:AI and Machine LearningApplication DevelopmentHybrid and Multicloud

Let's Not Talk About Repatriation: Rich Hoyer of SADA on FinOps and Workload Balancing

In early 2021, Rich Hoyer, Director of Customer FinOps for SADA, published an opinion piece in VentureBeat that refuted the findings of an earlier published article about the cost of hosting workloads in the cloud. In his rebuttal, Hoyer called the article (which was written by representatives of Andreessen Horowitz Capital Management) “dead wrong” with regard to its findings about cloud repatriation and costs.Hoyer’s expertise and his views on doing business in the cloud make him an ideal participant for a C2C Global panel discussion taking place on January 20, at which he will appear alongside representatives of Twitter and Etsy to talk about whether or not enterprises should consider moving workloads off the cloud and into data centers. Hoyer predicts the panel conversation will lean away from the concept of repatriation and more toward the concept of balancing workloads.“I don’t think repatriation is the right term,” Hoyer says. “To me, it’s much more a decision of what workloads should be where, so I would phrase it as rebalancing—as more optimally balancing. Repatriation implies that there’s this lifecycle. That’s just not the way it works. How many startups have workloads that are architected from the ground up and not cloud native? You don’t see that. If you’re cloud native, you start using the stuff as cloud native.” The panel discussion will focus on hybrid workloads, he says, with a specific eye toward what works from a cost standpoint for each individual customer. “We want cloud consumers to be successful, and if they have stuff in the cloud that ought not to be there, they’re going to be unhappy with those workloads,” Hoyer says. “That’s not good for us, it’s not good for Google, it’s not good for anybody. We want only things in the cloud that are going to be successful because customers know they’re getting value from it, because that’s what’s going to cause them to expand and grow in the cloud.”From his FinOps viewpoint, Hoyer says he will be advocating for the process of making decisions around managing spend in public cloud, and the disciplines around making decisions in the cloud. “The whole process of trying to get control of this begins with the idea of visibility into what the spend is, and that means you have to have an understanding of how to report against it, how to apply the tooling to do things like anomaly alerting,” he says. I expect the discussion to be less about whether there should be repatriation, and the more constructive discussion to be about the ways to think about how to keep the balance right.”  The overall goal of the panel is to present a process for analyzing workloads. And according to Hoyer, that’s not a one-time process—it’s iterative. “I’ll encourage anyone who has hybrid scenarios—some in the data center and some in the cloud—to be doing iterated looks at that to see what workloads should still be in the cloud,” Hoyer says. “There should be an iteration: Here’s what’s in the cloud today, here’s what’s in the data center today, and in broad terms, are these the right workloads? And then also, when stuff is in the cloud, are we operating it efficiently? And that’s a constant process, because you’ll have workloads that grow from the size they were in the cloud. And we’ll hear that same evaluation from the technology standpoint—are we using the best products in the cloud, and are there things in the data center that ought not to be there?”Be sure to join C2C Global, SADA, Twitter, and Etsy for this important conversation and arm your business with the tools needed to make intelligent and informed decisions about running your workloads and scaling your business. Click the link below to register. 

Categories:Google Cloud StrategyHybrid and MulticloudCloud MigrationStorage and Data TransferInterview

Multi-Cloud Vs. Hybrid Cloud: When Should Businesses Make the Switch to a Hybrid Strategy?

In 2019, the public cloud services market reached $233.4 billion in revenue. This already impressive number is made even more impressive by the fact that this was a 26% year-over-year increase from the previous year; a strong indication that app modernization and cloud migration continue to be winning strategies for many enterprises.But which cloud strategy should a decision-maker choose? When should they migrate their legacy applications into a hybrid, multi-cloud, or on-premise architecture? There may not be single definitive answers to these questions, but there are certainly different options to weigh and considerations to make before officially adopting a new process. Read on to find out more about multi-cloud vs hybrid cloud strategies for startups, and join the conversation with other cloud computing experts in the C2C Community. What is a Hybrid Cloud Strategy? A hybrid cloud strategy is an internal organization method for businesses and enterprises that integrates public and private cloud services with on-premise cloud infrastructures to create a single, distributed computing environment.The cloud provides businesses with resources that would otherwise be too expensive to deploy and maintain in house. With on-premise infrastructure, the organization must have the real estate to house equipment, install it, and then hire staff to maintain it. As equipment ages, it must be replaced. This whole process can be extremely expensive, but the cloud gives administrators the ability to deploy the same resources at a fraction of the cost. Deploying cloud resources takes minutes, as opposed to the potential months required to build out new technology in house. In a hybrid cloud, administrators deploy infrastructure that works as an extension of their on-premise infrastructure, so it can be implemented in a way that ties into current authentication and authorization tools. What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy? Conversely, a multi-cloud strategy is a cloud management strategy that requires enterprises to treat their cloud services as separate entities. A multi-cloud strategy will include more than one public cloud service and does not need to include private services, like in the case of hybrid cloud. Organizations use a multi-cloud strategy for several reasons, but the primary reasons are to provide failover and avoid vendor lock-in. Should one cloud service fail, a secondary failover service can take over until the original service is remediated. It’s an expensive solution, but it’s a strategy to reduce downtime during a catastrophic event. Most cloud providers have similar products, but administrators have preferences and might like one over another. By using multiple cloud services, an organization isn’t tied to only one product. Administrators can pick and choose from multiple services and implement those that work best for their organizations’ business needs. What is the Difference Between a Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Strategy? Though the differences might be slight, choosing the wrong cloud strategy can impact businesses in a big way, especially those just starting out. One of the primary differences between a hybrid and a multi-cloud strategy is that a hybrid cloud is managed as one singular entity while a multi-cloud infrastructure is not. This is largely due to the fact that multi-cloud strategies often include more than one public service that performs its own function.Additionally, when comparing multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud, it’s important to note that a hybrid cloud will always include a private cloud infrastructure. Now, a multi-cloud strategy can also include a private cloud service, but if the computing system is not managed as a single entity, it is technically considered both a multi-cloud and a hybrid cloud strategy.Infrastructure is designed differently, but the biggest significance is cost. Hosting multi-cloud services costs more than using one service in a hybrid solution. It also requires more resources to support a multi-cloud environment, because it’s difficult to create an environment where services from separate providers will integrate smoothly with each other, and requires additional training for any staff unfamiliar with cloud infrastructure. Which Cloud Strategy Has the Most Business Benefits? Every cloud strategy has its benefits, and most organizations leverage at least one provider to implement technology that would otherwise be too costly to host in-house. For a simple hybrid solution, use a cloud service that provides a majority of the resources needed. All cloud services scale, but you should find one that has the technology that you need to incorporate into workflows.Multi-cloud is more difficult to manage, but it gives administrators better freedom to pick and choose their favorite resource without relying on only one provider. A multi-cloud strategy also provides failover should a single provider fail, so it eliminates the single point of failure that most hybrid solutions experience. A cloud provider has minimal downtime, but downtime occasionally happens. With a multi-cloud strategy, administrators can keep most business workflows working normally until the primary provider recovers.It’s hard to stand squarely on the side of one cloud strategy over another. Every business has its own unique variables and dependencies that may make a hybrid model more desirable than multi-cloud, or vice versa. The benefits of an on-premise cloud infrastructure may also outweigh those of both hybrid and multi-cloud. The decision to go hybrid or adopt a multi-cloud strategy resides with the decision-makers of said enterprise. There are, however, some considerations businesses of any size and lifecycle can take into account before finalizing the decision. What to Consider When Switching to a Hybrid Cloud Strategy Before choosing a provider, you should research each provider’s services, feedback, and cost. It’s not easy to choose a provider, but the one integrated into the environment should have all the tools necessary to enhance workflows and add technology to the environment. A few key items that should be included are: Authorization and authentication tools Speed and performance metrics Backups and failover within data centers Different data center zones for internal failover Logging and monitoring capabilities Usage reports Convenient provisioning and configuration Most cloud providers have a way to demo their services, or they give users a trial period to test products. Use this trial wisely so that administrators can determine the best solution for the corporate environment. Multi-Cloud Vs. Hybrid Cloud for StartupsAgain, deciding between a multi-cloud strategy vs. hybrid cloud strategy depends on the needs of the company. For startups, there may need to be a greater emphasis on security and disaster recovery, in which case a multi-cloud management strategy would provide a company at the beginning of its lifecycle the protection it needs to grow.Conversely, to bring up one of the key differences between a hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategy, if an entity uses private cloud services, a hybrid cloud model would provide the startup with the flexibility it needs to make changes to their computing infrastructure as they become more established. Do Startups Benefit From an On-Premise Cloud Infrastructure?The short answer is yes, startups can benefit from an on-premise cloud infrastructure. Taking any services in-house, whether it's managing payroll or IT services, can help reduce costs and give businesses more visibility into their workflow. If there is a need to hold on to an on-premise cloud infrastructure, a multi-cloud strategy will allow that enterprise to maintain that computing system while also managing additional public cloud services separately. What Does the Resurgence of IT Hardware Mean for Cloud? Even though cloud adoption has been surging for some time among businesses (Gartner reported in 2019 that more than a third of organizations view cloud investments as a “top 3 investing priority”) IT hardware and in-house services have also experienced a resurgence in popularity. Many believe this new phenomenon, referred to as cloud repatriation by those in the IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) industry, is the result of a lack of understanding around proper cloud management and containerization among IT decision-makers. They may initially make the choice to migrate certain applications into a hybrid cloud strategy only to abandon the effort because of workload portability. In light of this shift, hyphen-cloud strategies, like multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud, still reign supreme as a cost effective and secure way to manage legacy applications and workloads. It may take a fair amount of planning and strategizing to decide which cloud strategy matches the company lifecycle to which it applies, but cloud adoption certainly isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Categories:InfrastructureGoogle Cloud StrategyHybrid and MulticloudCloud Migration

Dan Stuart, Southwire, on Why Google Cloud Was the Secure Choice

 Transforming a global manufacturing powerhouse, like Southwire, to a cloud provider is a significant decision. But with 30 years of experience in IT and manufacturing to pull from, Dan Stuart knew the right questions to ask to drive the right decision for Southwire as it navigated a cyberattack, refreshed its hardware, and was in growth mode. As a result, in July 2020, Southwire migrated its SAP environment to Google Cloud Platform, setting a benchmark in the industry for successfully moving an entrenched manufacturing business to the cloud. “Southwire is building a foundation for growth and innovation with the cloud, beginning with the migration of its core SAP business systems and services to Google Cloud,” said Rob Enslin, President at Google Cloud. “We’re proud that Southwire has selected Google Cloud to power its digital transformation.”But how was that decision made? Weren’t there concerns about the business, and more importantly, how secure is it? C2C sat down with Stuart, the senior vice president of IT services at Southwire.“So, I was looking at security, scalability, and modernization of our whole industry, which needed to be fast, flexible, and agile,” Stuart recounted. “But I also wanted to replace our current data centers and move into a more standard Cloud Platform cloud environment, and Google was the right one for us.”A bright brick backyard offset Stuart’s tall frame and created a perfect yellow hue surrounding him, perhaps the light or his proud disposition; Stuart’s confidence in the decision beamed through the Google Meet window. After all, the decision was tough and occurred at an even more challenging time for Southwire, but it proved to be profoundly beneficial, especially when it came to security. “When it comes to security, and you look at the competition out there, Google surpasses,” Stuart said. “From the encryption piece of it, right up and down to their security monitoring, they know what they’re doing.” Google Cloud truly does take security seriously. Their data centers are built with custom-designed servers that run their own operating systems for security and performance. With more than 500 security engineers, Google also has the best minds focused on thwarting risks and is focused on continuous improvement. “As we all know, security just keeps getting more complicated and complicated, and having a partner like Google that you know will stay on top of their game is exactly what we needed,” Stuart said.  Completing the Migration  To complete the migration, Southwire ran through four major cycles of testing, which occurred over more than ten weeks and involved more than 4,000 scripts. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they did the entire operation remotely via conference calls and Microsoft® Teams.The move to Google Cloud will ensure that Southwire remains up to date on the latest supported systems, improves security protocols, and provides a solid foundation for future upgrades, tools, and services to benefit both the organization and its customers.“By moving the SAP environment to Google Cloud, this creates a secure, flexible and scalable environment for Southwire to embark on new projects that move the company forward in areas of strategy important to the long-term growth of the company,” Stuart said. Making the Decision Beyond Google Cloud Platform’s reputation, there were a handful of critical decisions and lessons learned. Among them, which will be shared in more detail in the upcoming Navigator, Stuart said the ability to have a fast and seamless migration was the most important.  As they prepared to migrate, the Google Cloud Platform move wasn’t the only major IT project happening. They updated the enhancement pack, the process orchestrator, updated to BW/4HANA. “We didn’t miss a production beat,” Stuart said with emphasis. “We kept on track of our outages at our manufacturing shops, and everything went seamless. Google brought the support; they put the people that needed to be there on this team from the beginning, middle, and at the end.” The 71-year-old manufacturing business just made history. Despite not having any Google experience, they were able to make it happen, and it’s been proven to be a wise decision. Google provided training, education, and a strong governance program, too. But, setting up a governance program earlier in the process is one lesson Stuart can offer others making a lift and shift like this, “Make sure you got the governance in place, make sure you got the right architects helping you build your bill of materials for your deployment of Google and get that training and education upfront for your associates,” Stuart said. “It'll make them more relaxed at knowing what Google's doing, why they're doing it, and what they can expect, and it's helped set the expectations.” Join Us! Stuart sits down with Chief Customer Officer Sean Chinkski for a C2C Navigators discussion on May 18. Register below and bring your questions; Stuart will be answering them live.  

Categories:Google Cloud StrategyIndustry SolutionsHybrid and MulticloudIdentity and SecuritySAPManufacturingInterview

Key Insights From the Cloud Database Report, Cloud Wars

 In the premiere edition of the Cloud Database Report, John Foley lays the foundation for his ongoing coverage and analysis of the cloud database market—the vendors, cloud database platforms, emerging technologies, trends, and business use cases.“The traditional database market is quickly morphing into the cloud database market, and it’s a game-changer not just for the tech industry, but for developers, database managers, data scientists, business users, and the entire data ecosystem,” Foley wrote.Foley, a veteran reporter covering all things tech and cloud, provides the in-depth analysis as well as weekly news and insights published on CloudWars.co.Why cover Cloud databases? Easy. They’re on the rise, as Foley points out:  Gartner estimates that 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to the cloud by 2022. Snowflake reported revenue growth of 115%, to $148.5 million, in Q3 of FY2021, compared to a year ago.  AWS’s Aurora database is the fastest-growing service in the history of AWS.  “The pace of change in data management is accelerating, both because more data than ever is being generated and because business and IT decision-makers are keenly aware that “big data” represents tremendous value if they are able to capitalize on it,” Foley wrote. “Their goal is to gain insights and drive innovation and actions—product development, customer acquisition, supply chain execution, sales.”Subscribe to the Cloud Database Report for free here.  Key Insights From The Inaugural IssueThe first issue covered a lot, so we break it down for you here. But, don’t forget to subscribe to also gain all the insights that Foley tirelessly pens. Insight 1: The Cloud Database Report creates a new Top 20 List for Cloud Database ProvidersThe Cloud Database Report has identified 20 cloud database providers that, in their analysis, are the leaders. They represent a cross-section of the market—the incumbents, the cloud service providers, and the challengers. They used four criteria in choosing the Cloud Database Top 20:  Enterprise capabilities. Vendors with a complete range of services and support that enterprises may want or need. Fully-managed services are a plus.  Platform adaptability. Tools, services, and APIs for data integration/migration and application compatibility are must-haves.  Innovation. A steady pipeline of new, modern, differentiating capabilities.  Demonstrated business value. Customer success is the #1 proof point.  Take a look at the full Top 20 list here, the top five are as follows:  AWS Cloudera Cockroach Labs Crunchbase Databricks Insight 2: It’s not easy to uproot installed databases or vendors.“Conventional wisdom has it that “old guard” vendors like Oracle, IBM, and Teradata, which have been selling database systems for 30-plus years, are vulnerable to being displaced by newer, cloud-native technologies,” Foley wrote. But, it’s not easy to change. Even though, as Foley writes, Snowflake is going after AWS, Microsoft, and Google Cloud, they all want a piece of Oracle’s established customer base. And Oracle, according to Larry Ellison, is in a class of its own and isn’t going down without a fight. Insight 3: Cloud database startups are driving innovation. “With new products and business models, startups like Teradata, once the epitome of an on-premises data warehouse vendor, recently announced the availability of its cloud data analytics platform, Teradata Vantage.”You can find it on Microsoft’s and Google Cloud’s marketplaces, it creates added support for more data sources, and also introduced a free cloud trial of Vantage. Insight 4: Google Cloud leans in the direction of purpose-built databases.As Foley writes in his report:“Google’s Cloud Bigtable excels at high-scale analytics and operational workloads, while Firestore is a NoSQL document database for new applications. “Most developers do not say, ‘I want one database for everything,’” Google Cloud director of product management for databases, Kelly Stirman, told me in a briefing for this report. A particular database may be ideal for one application, but not well suited for others, he said. “I don’t think you can engineer one database that serves all of them well.”That said, Google’s Cloud SQL and Cloud Spanner databases are capable of handling a widening array of workloads in the same way multi-model databases do.”As organizations expand their use of cloud service providers, creating an environment with a curated selection of vendors that best meet the overall needs, the trick is to avoid complexity. Insight 5: Create an adaptable cloud database architecture Foley wrote that it is “vitally important to reaping the benefits of the cloud database model without recreating the problems of the past. “He identified four key capabilities:  Hybrid. Few organizations are 100% cloud. The ability to connect existing, on-prem systems with the cloud database is a vital intersection point. This is IBM’s big play in the market with its RedHat stack. Other vendors, including AWS and Oracle, are expanding their hybrid cloud offerings.  Multicloud. The ability to share data and connect databases across clouds is a practical requirement, and there are strategic benefits as well, such as being able to operate in the cloud of your customer’s choosing. Google with Anthos and MongoDB with multicloud clusters are among those promoting multicloud as a differentiating capability.   Multimodel. Many cloud databases support multiple data types, but they do not all support the same data types. It’s important to assess strengths and weaknesses.  Fully managed. Some cloud databases are self-managed by the user, some managed by the service provider, and a few such as Oracle Autonomous Database are fully automated.  Using those capabilities, customers can evaluate the right architecture for their business. Foley ends his report with use cases. We recommend checking them out at CloudWars.co. __John Foley is founding editor of the Cloud Database Report. As a tech journalist at InformationWeek and other publications, he covered databases and enterprise software, open systems, analytics, and the cloud market. John also established and led editorial teams driving strategic communications at Oracle, IBM, and MongoDB.

Categories:Hybrid and MulticloudDatabases

C2C Deep Dive: Demystifying Anthos with Google Cloud's Director of Outbound Product Management

Originally published on December 4, 2020.In this C2C Deep Dive, product expert Richard Seroter aimed to build the foundations of understanding with live Q&A. Here’s what you need to know:What is Anthos?  In its simplest form, Anthos is a managed platform that extends Google Cloud services and engineering practices to your environments so you can modernize apps faster and establish operational consistency across platforms. Why GCP and Anthos for app modernization? Responding to an industry shift and need, Google Anthos “allows you to bring your computing closer to your data,” Seroter said.So if data centers are “centers of data,” it's so helpful to have access to that data in an open, straightforward, portable way and to be able to do that at scale and consistently. Hear Seroter explain how this can help you consolidate your workloads.   First-generation vs. second-generation cloud-native companies: What have we learned?  The first generation was all about infrastructure automation and continuous delivery (CD) mindset at a time when there wasn’t much research into how to make it happen. So some challenges included configuration management, dealing with multi-platforms, or dealing with security.Now, as Richard Seroter explains more in this clip, the second generation is taking what has been learned and building upon it for sustainable scaling with a focus on applications.   Is Unified Hub Management possible through Anthos for the new generation? Yep. Anthos offers a single-management experience, so you can manage every Anthos cluster in one place, you can see what they’re doing, but you can push policy back to them, too. You can apply configurations and more to make it easy for billing and management experience.  Serverless anywhere? You bet. Use Cloud Run for Anthos.  Building upon the first generation of the platform as a service (PaaS), GCP brings Cloud Run for Anthos as a solution to needing more flexibility and building on a modern stack. Besides being Richard Seroter’s favorite, it balances the three vital paradigms existing today: PaaS, Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and container as a service (CaaS).Watch the clip to hear Seroter explain the how and the why. What about a GitOps workflow and automation—is scaling possible? Yes, by using Anthos Configuration Management (ACM), policy and configuration are possible at scale. You can manage all cloud infrastructure, not just Kubernetes apps and clusters, and even run end-to-end audits and peer review. Watch to learn how this works.  Question from the community: Are capabilities Hybrid AI and BigQuery available for Anthos on-prem?With Hybrid AI for Anthos, Google offers AI/ML training and inferencing capabilities with a single click. Google Anthos also allows for custom AI model training and MLOps lifecycle management using virtually any deep-learning framework.  Prefer to watch the whole C2C Deep Dive on Application Development with Anthos?    

Categories:AI and Machine LearningApplication DevelopmentInfrastructureGetting Started with Google CloudDevOps and SREHybrid and MulticloudCloud OperationsServerlessSession Recording

C2C Talks: Using Google Cloud’s BigQuery to Move from a 48-Hour Cycle Time to a Mere 7 Minutes

Author’s Note: C2C Talks are an opportunity for C2C members to engage through shared experiences and lessons learned. Often there is a short presentation followed by an open discussion to determine best practices and key takeaways.Juan Carlos Escalante (JC) is a pioneering member of C2C and a vital part of the CTO office at Ipsos. Escalante details how he and his team handled data migration powered by Google Cloud and shares his current challenges, which may not be unlike anything you’re also facing. As a global leader in market research, Ipsos has offices in 90 countries and conducts research in more than 150 countries. So, to say its data architecture is challenging barely covers the complexity JC manages each day. “Our data architecture on our data pipeline challenges gets complex very quickly, especially for workloads dealing with multiple data sources, and what I describe as hyper-fragmented data delivery requirements,” he said in a recent C2C Talks: Data Migration and Modernization on December 10, 2020.So, how do they manage a seamless data flow? And how does JC’s data infrastructure landscape look? Hear below.What was the primary challenge?  Even though the design JC described is popular and widely used in the space, it isn’t without its own set of challenges and siloed data infrastructure rises to the top.“The resilience of siloed data infrastructure platforms that we see scattered across the company translates to longer cycle times and more friction to pivot and react to changing business requirements,” he said. Hear JC explain the full challenge below. What resonates with you? Share it with us!  How did you use Google Cloud as a solution?  By leveraging Google Cloud, JC and his team have unlocked new opportunities to simplify how different groups come into a data infrastructure platform and serve or solve their specific needs.“We all have different products and services that we have available within Google Cloud Platform,” he said. “Very quickly, we've been able to test and deploy proofs of concept that have moved rapidly towards production.”Some examples of the benefits JC and his team have found by using the Google Cloud Platform product, BigQuery include: Reduced cycle time or processing time from 48 hours to seven minutes Data harmony across teamsHear JC explain how BigQuery helped reach these successful milestones. Since it's going so well, what's next?  The goal is to think bigger and determine how JC and his team can transform end-to-end data platform architecture. “The next step we want to take in our data architecture journey is to bring design patterns that are common and are used widely in software development and bringing those patterns into our data engineering practices,” he said. On that list is version control for data pipelines—hear JC explain why. Also, JC is working with his team to plan for the future of data architecture and analytics on a global scale, which he says will be a multi-cloud environment. Hear him explain why below. Questions from the C2C Community 1. Are the business analysts running their daily job through the BigQuery interface? Or do they use a different application that's pulling from BigQuery?For JC’s organization, some teams got up to speed very quickly, while others need a little more coaching, so they’ll be putting together some custom development with Tableau. Hear JC’s full answer below. Hear how they use Google Sheets to manage the data exported from Big Query. 2. I have the feeling that my databases are way more similar than yours because my database is not talking about those things. It's just a handful of tables. So it's easier for us to monitor a handful of tables. But how do you monitor triggers?This question led to a more in-depth discussion, so JC offered to set up a time to discuss further separately, which is just one of the beautiful benefits of being a part of the C2C community. Check out what JC said to attack the question with some clarity below. We’ll update you with their progress as it becomes available! 3. What data visualization tools do JC and his team use?“Basically, the answer is we're using everything under the sun. We do have some Spotfire footprint, we have Tableau, we have Looker, and we have ClixSense. We also have custom development visualization developments,” he said.“My team is gravitating more towards Tableau, but we have to be mindful that whatever data architecture design we come up with, it has to be decoupled, flexible, and it has to be data engine and data visualization agnostic because we do get a request to support the next visualization,” he warned. Hear about how JC manages the overlap with Looker and Tableau and why he likes them both.   Extra Credit JC and his team used the two articles from Thoughtworks, linked below, to inform their decision-making and what they used as a guide for modernizing their data architecture. He recommends checking them out. How to Move Beyond a Monolithic Data Lake to a Distributed Data Mesh by Zhamak Dehghani, Thoughtworks, May 2019 Data Mesh Principles and Logical Architecture by Zhamak Dehghani, Thoughtworks, December 2020 We want to hear from you! There is so much more to discuss, so connect with us and share your Google Cloud story. You might get featured in the next installment! Get in touch with Content Manager Sabina Bhasin at sabina.bhasin@c2cgobal.com if you’re interested.Rather chat with your peers? Join our C2C Connect chat rooms! Reach out to Director of Community Danny Pancratz at danny.pancratz@c2cglobal.com. 

Categories:Data AnalyticsC2C Community SpotlightHybrid and MulticloudCloud MigrationStorage and Data TransferDatabasesSession Recording

5 Takeaways from C2C's Conversation with Google’s Pali Bhat

This article was originally published on October 28, 2020.In the fourth installment of its Rockstar Conversations series, C2C welcomed Pali Bhat, VP of product and design at Google, to discuss application modernization and building for the future. Bhat, who has been at Google for more than 10 years, has held various roles but none closer to his heart than his current one. “I love application development!” Bhat said. Among his responsibilities, Bhat is in charge of Google’s application modernization and developer solutions portfolio. He came ready to discuss all of it—including Anthos, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), and various other hot-topic issues—with C2C and its members.  “As you think about your applications, you’ll see they’re the heart of your business and how you serve customers,” Bhat said. “They will become more germane and central to everything that your business does. And so, it's really important to have a platform that empowers all of your technology and application development teams to be proactive and to not have to worry about infrastructure, while still being secure and compliant and meeting the needs of your business.”Here are five key takeaways from the engaging conversation that took place on the C2C Rockstar stage.      How Does Google Cloud Help Customers Solve Problems?Bhat explained his role at Google as one that needs to determine customer problems and then find ways to solve them. “I listen to what our customers are saying,” he noted. “And then I get to design solutions and bring them to market, and this is something I really enjoy doing.”In the past year, as the pandemic has made waves across industries and borders, Google has seen an increase in the number of customers looking to accelerate their move to the cloud and to modernize their applications and processes. To give you a sense of Google’s scale, in his keynote during Google Next 2020, Bhat noted that Google has deployed more than 4 million builds and 500 million test cases daily.“Those numbers are clearly impressive,” Bhat said during the Rockstar Conversation. “But this is an example of how customers are solving problems by taking advantage of the unprecedented scale that Google Cloud offers them.” Bhat offered an example with the GKE platform, which is Google’s secured and managed Kuberbetes service with four-way auto scaling and multi-cluster support. “We have it at three times the scale of any other open-source Kubernetes, and by far the largest scale of any cloud-based Kubernetes service,” he noted. “Today, within each Kubernetes cluster on GKE, we support more than 15,000 nodes. What that means is that customers can analyze all of their data, which they could not do manually, at scale. These are the kinds of solutions we can bring to customers.”    How Is Google Cloud Helping Developers Develop?Bhat stressed that a top priority for him and his team at Google Cloud is to empower developers to be able to move faster and focus on the applications they’re building without having to worry about the infrastructure.“We’ve all seen how development has evolved over the last 30, 40 years,” he said. “We’ve seen an increased focus on more tools and more framework. But with the complexity that has also grown in terms of business requirements, as well as what our customers need from us and from each of the applications we build, we've seen an increased focus on security and compliance as well.” As a result, Google Cloud is focused on providing developers the tools they need for security and compliance without slowing them down.“Google Cloud brought to the industry through Kubernetes a declarative model for managing how you build applications and how you deploy them,” Bhat said. “And what that ultimately gives you as a developer is the ability to operate at scale.” Another example Bhat highlighted is the work they are doing with how to deal with compliance and policy. “Today, the way you find out if you're in compliance is by doing an audit after the fact,” he said. “We’re going to work on automating all those things that have to do with security and compliance so that developers can simply focus on building their applications.”As Bhat looks to the future of development, he said it’s about getting to a point where you can have the cloud be your pair programmer. “When the cloud is your pair programmer, you get a really powerful ally to help you go faster and to be able to focus on exactly what your customers need, and not have to worry about all these other things.”    Are You Ready to Go to Google CAMP?Bhat introduced the Google Cloud Application Modernization Program (Google CAMP) during his keynote address at Google Next 2020. He said, “The path to elite performance is not about implementing a one-size-fits-all app modernization model. Rather, you need to make incremental, continuous improvement based on your organization’s needs. To be successful, you need to start with a deep understanding of where you stand and where to focus so you can maximize the impact of your modernization effort.”Google CAMP has three main components to help organizations become elite performers, including data-driven baseline assessment and benchmarking; a blueprint for proven, scalable DevSecOps practices; and a modern, yet extensible platform that enables you to build, run, secure, and manage both legacy and new applications.  During the Rockstar Conversation, Bhat said he has heard customers continuously ask for help in their application modernization journeys. “Google CAMP gives every one of our customers the ability to get a tailored application modernization program that meets their business needs. It is designed to help them go faster while also doing it more safely.” He added, “You often hear people say to go fast and break things. Well, our customers actually don’t want to break things. They’re powering some of the most critical and essential services on our planet, and we can help them move fast, safely.”    What Makes Anthos Stand Out as an Application Platform?In a one-on-one discussion I had with Bhat, he told me that Anthos will help in bringing the benefits of the cloud—whether they are on-premise, at the edge, or in the cloud, regardless of which cloud they are on—to all customers.During the Rockstar Conversation with C2C, he was asked what makes Anthos stand out as a top-tier application platform. He pointed to three distinct things. As mentioned to me, he noted that first and foremost it brings the cloud to customers. “Anthos is really the first solution that actually brings all of the power of cloud in a consumable way to wherever you need it.”The second thing that separates Anthos is this foundation of open technologies, but with managed services on top. “We've used a portfolio of open solutions such as Kubernetes and others that we've done within Google, and then we’ve built incredible managed services on top that simplify security, policy, governance, and compliance, so that you can actually continue to just focus on your application,” Bhat said. The third thing that sets Anthos apart from other application platforms is that it is the first hybrid multi-cloud platform that’s bringing value-added services on top. “As an example,” Bhat said, “we recently announced BigQuery Omni, which will bring BigQuery—our data analytics service—to other clouds. Bhat added, “Those three things put together give you the application platform that you need.”    Where Does the Application Modernization Storyline Go from Here?Bhat was asked if application modernization were a 10-episode Netflix series, what episode are we on? Without hesitation, Bhat responded, “episode three!” He explained, “I look at it as customers have gotten started and they really understand that this is important. They've dug into this series, and they now want to get to the finish line. They want to see how it turns out.”In terms of what’s up next, Bhat cautioned that, “ultimately, application modernization is something that has to be part of what you do as an organization because every technology evolves and gets better over time.” He added, “this can’t just be a 10-episode series, but rather something so popular that it’s going to get renewed, and we’re going to have many seasons.”As for advice he wanted to share, Bhat said that it is really important to pick the right platform so that you can actually evolve as your customer and business needs evolve. “You also need to pick the right platform so that your teams are investing in the technologies that are going to be durable. And finally, remember that although having the right set of platforms, technologies, and policies are critically important, the most important piece in all of this are your people. Celebrate your technology and application development teams because without the people, none of this would be possible.”

Categories:Application DevelopmentGetting Started with Google CloudGoogle Cloud StrategyDevOps and SREHybrid and Multicloud

One-on-One with Google Cloud's Pali Bhat

This article was originally published on October 15, 2020.Pali Bhat is VP of Product and Design at Google. As part of the leadership team at Google Cloud, he has had the opportunity to lead products that have had a significant impact for Google Cloud customers.Today, he is responsible for the cloud company’s application modernization and developer solutions portfolio. Specifically, Bhat is in charge of Anthos, Google Cloud’s hybrid and multi-cloud platform, as well as the company’s modern computing efforts, which include Google Kubernetes Engine, and Google Cloud’s serverless solutions—Cloud Run and Cloud Functions. Bhat also leads Google Cloud’s Developer Solutions—Cloud Code and Cloud Build. Although Bhat has had his hand in many of Google’s flagship products, he recently noted that the area he’s working on now—application modernization—is the most exciting for him. “When we look at application modernization, it's a journey that virtually every large enterprise around the world is currently underway with,” he said. “The application modernization path they are on is unique in a number of ways for each customer because each has different needs, and the starting points for many are quite different.” He added, “We’re very focused on ensuring that our solutions actually address the needs of all of our customers, while allowing them to bring along their own assets, regardless of where they are in their journey.”Pali BhatBringing the Value and Building for the FutureAs developers code software and applications to solve business problems for the future, they’re faced with the reality that today the cloud is still too complex a platform to develop for. “They’re not just developing an application,” Bhat said. “They need to then deploy and operate that application as well. That process can be complex.”Bhat and his team are focusing on taking a different approach so that the solution they provide acts almost like an autopilot and does the hard work, whether it's infrastructure-related, deploying an application, or pushing it and managing it to production. “With Google Cloud taking care of this aspect of the solution, technology teams can instead focus solely on innovating and on the act of creating business value for their customers.”Looking forward, he noted the value will be on bringing the benefits of the cloud—whether they are on-premise, at the edge, or in the cloud and regardless of which cloud they are on—to all customers. “That’s what we’re focused on now with Anthos” he said. “And what I believe will happen in the next few years is that the act of developing an application and then delivering it to your customers will get much simpler, while providing a more robust environment to manage the application after deployment.”Democratizing at Scale Benefits EveryoneLike others in Google Cloud’s leadership (i.e., Andrew Moore), Bhat also believes in the power of democratizing applications. When asked what he’s most passionate about solving, he answered simply, “The biggest opportunity for cloud customers is to both leverage large-scale computing, storage, and network resources, and also to democratize access to value-added capabilities such as data analytics and machine learning, among others.”By doing this, Bhat emphasized that customers will not only be able to innovate faster, but also be as operationally efficient as they can be. “The number one thing that keeps me up at night,” Bhat noted, “is how to get these capabilities into our customers’ hands quickly. It’s still too hard for customers to adopt cloud, and making this simpler is my priority.”A Call to Unite and Work TogetherBhat sits on the board for C2C, which is the independent Google Cloud community. It’s not that he doesn’t already have a full plate in his role at Google Cloud, but he sees this as an opportunity to connect and work with customers and better understand how to make the solutions he creates more accessible and approachable.“When I think of C2C, there is of course the community aspect of it where customers can network with and help each other,” he said. “But it can do more than that, too. As cloud gets more broadly adopted, I see an opportunity where our customers can take advantage of all of the different services that the broader community is producing in order for all of us to get better together. And I see C2C as not just a place where customers can learn, but be a place where customers actually find other services that help them build the things that they want to deliver for their customers and their business.”

Categories:Application DevelopmentCareers in CloudDevOps and SREHybrid and MulticloudInterview

5 Takeaways from C2C's Conversation with Google’s Urs Hölzle

This article was originally published on October 13, 2020.In the third installment of its Rockstar Conversations series, C2C welcomed Urs Hölzle to discuss modernizing infrastructure for the present and for the future—a topic front and center on most people’s minds today.  Hölzle, who is one of Google’s first 10 employees, is a leading expert in this topic. In addition to his extensive knowledge and experience in working with creating and further developing Google’s infrastructure, he is the person in charge of design, installation, operations, networks, and data centers, and making it all available to developers around the world.“The most exciting part of my job is that it really changes every year,” Hölzle said. “If you think back to 20 years ago, the internet looked very different. There was no cloud, and we got to build that ourselves…that’s really exciting.” He added, “But in addition to that, another exciting part of my job is that I get to work with the part of the internet that is actually real. I get to work with the unsung heroes behind the scenes that are unknown, but that make things work.”Hölzle spoke about many topics during his hour-long appearance; here are five key takeaways from the lively conversation that took place on the C2C Rockstar stage.       People Drive the Innovation at the Enterprise Level   The technology is not the only thing that has evolved during Hölzle’s tenure at Google. The company itself has gone through changes, which in turn has pushed innovation forward. “One of the key things of designing the technical infrastructure for Google and for customers is to think about it in terms of how to create things that are scalable and reliable,” Hölzle said. “That is true not just for the technical parts, but really of the people parts of the organization.”Amid constant change, there are two things that have remained steady at Google. First, everything is all about collaboration. “Different disciplines need to come together when building a platform,” Hölzle said. “No one discipline is more important than another, and no one can do it alone.” Second is that there is a culture of blameless postmortems at Google. “When stuff goes wrong, we focus not on blaming who was responsible, but really on completely analyzing it and learning from it, and then putting into place measures to prevent that in the future.” Hölzle hammered home the point that solutions that are great today won’t remain great tomorrow. “Because the internet is constantly changing, the problems are changing, too, and you actually need to continuously adapt,” he said. “To be successful at scaling on an enterprise level, it’s a combination of needing to be really good at things, but at the same time needing to let go of things.”    Anthos Really Works—For Everyone and EverywhereAnthos, which is an application platform that provides a consistent development and operations experience for cloud and on-premise environments, was first introduced in 2019 at the Google Next conference in San Francisco.“At Google,” Hölzle noted, “we say that launching something is not important, but landing it is.” He talked about how Anthos needed to land in customers’ hands and actually deliver value, and he believes it has done exactly that. “The real accomplishment for me about ‘Anthos the dream’ is that today it is ‘Anthos the reality.’ I'm really happy that a year and a half or so of general availability we are seeing real traction in the field, and we have production workloads in place and an exploding ecosystem around it.”Through open APIs, Anthos works to standardize tasks or questions that developers work on every day, and then provide these open APIs in a managed form so that it’s updated. “You don’t have to worry about maintaining the stack no matter where it is—whether it is on-premise on bare metal or on VMware, or in the cloud,” Hölzle said. “You can pick your environment and all these things are the same. Your teams learn it once and they can use them anywhere.”    The Cloud Should Work for EveryoneHölzle has been quoted as saying, “For the cloud to take over the world, it needs to make everyone successful.” When pressed about what he meant by that statement, he answered, “When we think about the cloud today, we think of it as a technology play. But actually, the cloud is still a niche development. In the grand scheme of things, it’s 10% of the total IT.” He added, “For it to become more widely used, it needs to solve everyone’s problems, not just the problem of a technologist.”The goal is to make things easier in the cloud than they are on premise, and the examples Hölzle used included compliance, productivity, and life cycle of data. “All these things are actually still hard in the cloud, and so if the goal for the cloud is to get to 50%, 70%, or 80% of IT, you have to solve all these technical and nontechnical problems as well. And then it becomes available to a lot of these small companies that consume it indirectly, or large companies with ambitious goals, or heavily regulated companies, and so on.”   Hölzle noted that if we were having this same exact conversation in 2025 looking back at 2020, “we would all be pretty embarrassed.” He said the work we are doing now on the cloud is still very primitive and very functional. “Our goal should be to look back five years from now and say, ‘well I remember liking it, but now I kinda don’t understand why because it is so much better today.’” The collective goal should be that the cloud makes everyone successful by solving more problems across the board. “It’s a big challenge, but also a big opportunity,” Hölzle said.    The Benefits of Confidential ComputingJust a few months ago, Google announced the expansion of its Confidential Computing portfolio, which makes Confidential Virtual Machines (VM) publicly available, and also now includes Confidential Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) nodes. When asked what this announcement ultimately meant for customers, Hölzle noted that this move was part of a larger strategy to make cloud computing in Google Cloud Platform and Anthos completely private computing.“We want this to be computing where if you look at it and if you understand the whole stack and the whole technology, you say this is as much my infrastructure as my on-site data center and my own servers and my own set of system administrative laws. There is no provider risk in there,” he said.Hölzle further explained that confidential computing ensures that everything has encryption. “Before confidential computing, one gaffe in encryption was that your data was encrypted when it was stored and when it was in transit on the networks, but when it was being processed in main memory or in the server, it was not encrypted because it needed to be processed. Confidential computing really relies on hardware technology where the CPU always encrypts data before writing it to DRAM (dynamic random-access memory).” The biggest benefit is that there will not be a single bit of unencrypted information. “So, from the end point that holds your keys all the way into the CPU that actually touches your data, everything is encrypted. That’s the vision that we’re working through.”    The Cloud Needs Clean EnergyLast month, Google Cloud set a goal to run its business on carbon-free energy everywhere, at all times, by 2030. A blog written by Hölzle noted, “This means we’re aiming to always have our data centers supplied with carbon-free energy. We are the first cloud provider to make this commitment, and we intend to be the first to achieve it, too.”This initiative—which started off as a cost-savings measure—is important for Google Cloud, especially now that the company knows the environmental impacts at stake. “In 2007, I saw that we [Google] was getting bigger, but also that climate and carbon was going to be a problem that was only going to get bigger and more urgent,” Hölzle said. “That’s when we decided to become carbon neutral.”Since 2017, Google Cloud has purchased as much renewable power every year as it uses in all of its operations. “For every kilowatt of power we consume, we purchase a kilowatt hour of renewable energy from a new wind or solar farm,” Hölzle said. As part of its newest goal set forth this year, Hölzle noted in his blog that as Google learns by doing, it will also help develop useful tools to empower others to follow suit. “In the last decade, we've led the way in deploying renewable energy at scale—and, in the process, helped drive down costs for wind and solar. It’s time to do the same for next-generation technologies that will allow for a wholesale transition to 24/7 carbon-free energy.”

Categories:InfrastructureGoogle Cloud StrategyComputeHybrid and MulticloudSustainability

Getting to Know Google Cloud's Urs Hölzle

This article was originally published on September 30, 2020.In 1999, Urs Hölzle joined Google as one of its first 10 employees and the first vice president of engineering. Twenty-one years later, he serves as the senior vice president for technical infrastructure and oversees the design, installation, and operation of the servers, networks, and data centers that power Google’s services. In sum, he is the person in charge of making all of Google’s wares available to developers around the world via Google Cloud.Hölzle is one of few people so intimately familiar with Google’s infrastructure and how it has evolved through the years to become one of the world’s largest computing systems.While his roots are in Switzerland, Hölzle received his Ph.D. from Stanford, where he invented the fundamental techniques that are used in most of today's leading Java compilers. He established himself as a professor of computer science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before joining Google and beginning his most notable work: downloading and indexing the entire world wide web and serving it up as the ubiquitous search engine we know today.Urs HölzleUrs Hölzle: Looking Inward to Plan Forward  When Hölzle began his tenure, he and his team were tasked with engineering the computer infrastructure for Google’s search engine on what he’s referred to as “not very much money.” Of that experience, he has said: “That was 18 years of hard work.” But it’s that hard work that led to further innovation.What started off as a focus on an individual server has led to one of the largest networks of servers as well as very efficient data centers. In fact, Hölzle and his team have reduced the energy used by Google data centers to less than 50% of the industry average.Hölzle has commented that he sees Google as any other large company. “We have IT systems. We have security problems. We have compliance problems. We have HR systems…. We look at other companies really as companies that struggle with the same problems that we have struggled with.” It makes sense, then, that because Google has had the same types of problems, it is in a better position to help solve those problems. “All of these things are things that actually any 50,000-person company has, and a subset of those are things that a 1,000-person company has.” In his most current role, Hölzle works to ensure that all those who rely on Google’s servers, networks, and data centers have access, and that Google’s infrastructure can hold all of it up.The Tech Guru Aims for New HeightsMuch of Hölzle’s attention these days is on making Google’s technical infrastructure available to developers around the world through Google Cloud. In 2018, he wrote about the important goal of Internet companies to offer services that can be accessed by hundreds of millions of users--no matter where they are. “Through the years, we’ve worked hard to continually improve how we serve users in all corners of the world,” he wrote at the time. “From an infrastructure perspective, this has meant focusing on how best to route data securely, balance processing loads and storage needs, and prevent data loss, corruption, and outages.”Earlier this year, he wrote another article focused on keeping the Google network infrastructure strong amid COVID-19. He noted, “This may be a time of global uncertainty, but we're working hard to ensure the Google network is there for everyone, business or consumer, day and night.”Hölzle has made no secret about his views on the future of Google Cloud: “For the cloud to take over the world, it needs to make everyone successful.” It’s not just a product but rather an ecosystem where open source creates the standard, he contends. “With open source, you have a way to have a standard because everyone uses the same piece of code… but at the same time, you can evolve and move the ecosystem forward.”  The Upcoming Revolution in CloudIn his recent keynote address during Google Next 2020, Hölzle discussed what’s next in enterprise IT. He noted two key things: first, that enterprise innovation can catch up to the rate of consumer innovation, but only if the enterprise adopts an always up-to-date software stack that works across any cloud, as well as on premise and on the edge; and second, that Google Anthos is exactly that. “Anthos is as safe and as clear a choice as back when choosing Linux, because it runs everywhere,” he said during his keynote. “It’s based on open source and communities, and everything will run on top of that.” He added, “The beauty of Anthos is that it doesn’t try to do too much. It standardizes the things that should not be different.”When asked about his thoughts on what is missing from the cloud today, Hölzle suggested, “a lot.” Hölzle believes the cloud is still at its infancy, and there is still much more work to do. For example, he compared the cloud we know today to the first smartphone made available to the masses. “It’s like trying to imagine a phone right now without the app store. I predict in 2025, we’ll really be embarrassed about the cloud of 2020.” “The game changer will be to move away from the idea of having three different clouds we need to pick from,” he added. “Anthos combined with Kubernetes gives you open standards and flexibility. From there, you can mix and match and adopt the things that work best for you.” He added, “That is really what the next big revolution in the cloud will be.”   

Categories:InfrastructureGoogle Cloud StrategyCareers in CloudHybrid and MulticloudNetworkingInterview