Google Next 21 Recap: UK and Ireland Session on 21/10/2021 | C2C Community

Google Next 21 Recap: UK and Ireland Session on 21/10/2021

  • 24 November 2021
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The C2C Connect: UK and I group, led by @andy.yates@Fintan Murphy and @PaulRLees ​hosted their regular session for Google Cloud customers and professionals located in the UK & Ireland. These monthly sessions bring together a local community of cloud experts and customers to connect, learn, and shape the future of cloud. 

Following on from Google Next '21, October’s meeting dug into some product announcements from the conference, and explored how each of us might implement the new features and ideas that we had been hearing about.

 

60 minutes summed up in almost as many bullets :)

 

Keynote and positioning

  1. The conference (and our event) was billed as ‘learn, engage, solve’ - but we didn’t see this come through in the presentations.

  2. The key message: cloud + consumer + security experience = major advantage for enterprises as they go through digital transformation

  3. "accelerate organizations' ability to digitally transform their business with the best infrastructure, platform, industry solutions and expertise"

  4. They called out four key examples:

    • smart canvas

    • ai powered industry solutions (contact center ai?)

    • big query omni (multi-cloud analytics)

    • 5G, edge + hosted computing solutions

  5. Several client stories were highlighted

    • Ford, L'Oreal - highlighting examples across *whole* product suite

    • And video of lots of customers doing cool (but unspecific) things

    • Emphasising build, scale, innovate - with purpose built industry solutions

  6. Key positioning: "transformation cloud"

  7. Google have a set of questions they ask; as their customers ask (and they then help their customers answer):

    • Are we the best at understanding and using our data?

    • Do we have the best technology infrastructure?

    • Are we creating the best hybrid workplace?

    • Do we know that our data, systems, and users are secure?

    • Are we addressing the most important challenges facing our world

​​​​​​​Commentary

  1. That last set of questions - along with the digital transformation positioning - reflects perhaps the strongest articulation we’ve seen around Google Cloud and Workspace as a complete and integrated suite.

  2. AI still is mentioned, but it plays more of a supporting role in the messaging - and it is better contextualised within that broader transformation goal

  3. Definitely still pushing their engineering excellence as it is a key advantage

    • "many of the most demanding and technically advanced customers disproportionately choose us"

  4. They also wanted to push the triple benefits of better network, better price performance, true multi-cloud

  5. Several times there was a clear "Open source / standards" message - especially when talking about technology partners - which was perhaps a dig at AWS and their battles with ElasticSearch?

  6. Workspace was mostly talked about as Smart Canvas, Spaces, and Meet. The 3B users number was shared, along with 5300 apps in the marketplace. AppSheet is the 'hidden secret' - everyone can build an app. Throughout the conference, there was quite a bit more ‘building on Workspace’ content. Great to see - although I still have questions about what this really looks like as it gathers momentum and starts to scale.

Main announcements

  1. Google Distributed Cloud - "fully managed services, running on google managed hardware" 

  2. Looker - provides the semantic model that you can now consume from Tableau

  3. Citrix partnership - windows / macos in cloud; integrated Desktop-as-a-Service built on Google Cloud

  4. Chronicle + Security Command Center; Certificate Authority; Zero Trust - expanding Beyond Corp to all apps; modern / legacy; web / desktop; prod environments; SLSA open source framework + managed services on cloud

    1. There were a lot of things mentioned here, and whilst I know some of the names and tools, it was a bit hard to parse out what was actually being announced, but no worry, because they also announced:

  5. Cybersecurity Action Team (do not call them gCAT!): strategic advisory; trust + compliance services; customer + solns. engineering; threat intelligence + incident response

  6. Work Safer Program - discount bundle

    1. Aimed at getting you to Enterprise Plus - and throwing in a whole bunch of security related goodies. Definitely worth considering if you were thinking about switching up. Not really helpful if you’re already there, or not even close.

  7. Carbon footprint dashboard; integrated with salesforce sustainability cloud; also idle workload (active assist)

Cloud and Workspace keynote announcements

  1. New ‘innovators’ program 

    • including @chanelgreco as a featured innovator at launch!

    • We had a few questions about how this relates to other community efforts

    • It’s very developer focused - connected to your developer.google.com profile

    • largely about access - to AMAs, roadmaps, special events

  2. A documentary about kubernetes (!!!)

    1. really

    2. should Disney be nervous? :)

  3. A carbon footprint explainer - https://sustainableitdecoded.withgoogle.com/

  4. Vertex AI Workbench - hosted Jupyter notebooks, tied with other Vertex.ai tools

    • how does this relate to Colab?

  5. Atlassian partnership

    • Jira in Chat, Trello in Gmail

    • As big users of Trello - we were excited to see this - but did question how new it really is

    • Partnership announcements - e.g. Miro, Atlassian, etc - are often set up with a single player in a space. This is great if you happen to have chosen the same folks in your ecosystem, but can be counter-productive if you use MURAL or Monday etc. There's an incentive for those in the partnership to engineer in a degree of exclusivity - and also to incentivise the partner to not work with MS, etc. But the real win for customers is for a more open integration approach.

  6. DLP on Chat. Private Beta.

    • Is this really useful? What contexts? Are people using Chat in the contexts where they might share credit card / social security numbers  details outside of the org? 

  7. Drive Labels Generally Available

    • Or are they?

  8. Assistive writing - warnings about non-inclusive language, etc

    • Taking aim at Grammarly, Textio etc

    • Really pleased to see this become a native feature - 3rd party tools that essentially act as keyloggers feel like a massive risk - and we have a different degree of trust in Google

  9. Forms API - public beta

  10. AppSheet dynamic email

    • We’ve been talking about AMP for Gmail to anyone and everyone - and we’d really love to see more vendors support it in their notifications. Making this part of AppSheet will certainly help set expectations amongst users.

  11. Client side encryption (for Meet, alongside other parts of Workspace)

    • It feels like this helps those in regulated industries check a box, but in terms of actual threat models, this feels like it’s mainly useful when your adversary is a nation state (and specifically, the US!). 

  12. Inline topic threading for Chat (to make it more Slack-like)

    • Already hearing a degree of nervousness from those who like the current approach to threading - and talk of babies and bathwater. It’s clear there are improvements to be made. It would be nice if this was one of those things that was pushed into Alphas, Betas, etc - in a more public way - and these were used for a bit of socialisation ahead of major changes.

  13. Discoverable Chat spaces

    • including searchable content (even if you aren't a member)!

    • Really important for orgs like ours, where there are thousands of conversations going on

  14. Roles - member management and content moderation in spaces

  15. New admin controls for integrations in spaces

    • Interestingly, one of my nit-picks is that every time the word "Enterprise" was used, it was as a shorthand for security - but I feel that it should be so much more than that. Whilst there are security aspects to these features, moderation (as an example) is also about shaping a conversation - helping people find information, providing guidance, seeing who’s involved (and who isn’t) and making sure that you’re being inclusive. These are all ‘enterprise’ concerns - and I’d really love for the ‘enterprise’ conversation to be a bit broader than security.

Workspace positioning

  1. As with many folks, the emphasis has shifted from remote to hybrid work productivity

  2. Google talked about this with 4 core pillars:

    • unified solution

    • better collaboration (this has always been the Workspace USP)

    • connected workflows (integrated with a broader ecosystem)

    • enterprise grade

  3. (Just talked about ‘enterprise’)

  4. unified - don't need to 'bounce back and forth between tools'

    • but I still find I do this *within* the app. Sometimes when I'm writing an email, and a chat message comes in, so I stop, answer the message, then go back to the email. I think we might need to see more fine grained notification control to really help with this. There was mention of a unified Activity Feed as part of this, and this will be really useful

    • There was also mention of ‘Calendar’ within Spaces - couldn’t tell if this was a slip of the tongue, or a more significant slip ...

    • The idea of a team calendar being visible in Spaces is certainly an appealing one…

  5. Javier also wrote a post that covers a lot of this: https://cloud.google.com/blog/products/workspace/announcing-new-ways-to-build-and-integrate-applications-in-google-workspace

Other interesting things

There was a Developing for Workspace session (as mentioned, there was a big push for this), that contained some interesting announcements:

  1. better support for calendar attachments

  2. smart defaults on RSVP based on working location

  3. card builder - https://gw-card-builder.web.app/

  4. link unfurling

    • registered to a bot? what happens if I have (e.g. a twitter bot, that overrides existing unfurling?) ... can links be unfurled without a bot (by building my site in a certain way?)

  5. Keep api - 'enterprise' - for DLP / audit

  6. Docs api with smart canvas support

  7. chat apps in marketplace - so all apps can be viewed / managed in a single place

  8. allowlist marketplace apps by group / OU

    • Really important, if (for example) you want your customer-facing teams to have Calendly, but not the internal / back office teams

  9. For partners, there’s a new workspace developer preview program goo.gle/WSDevPreview

 


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