Google Cloud Summit Toronto 2018: Mixed Messages

Systems as a Service are slowly hollowing out corporate data centers while bringing every major system direct to the Web to serve customers in myriad ways. And there are a Trio of Cloud Computing Disruptors  –  Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud  – that  are slugging it out for top dog position  among the corporate elite.  The idea is to replace large chunks of corporate   DIY IT Shops  with systems and infrastructure in the Cloud that are Performant and Scalable, Secure against the Hacking Hordes, Highly Interactive and Integrated within and across Corporate Information Silos,  Cheaper than any DIY Shop Configuration, yet Imminently Adaptable  and Customizable.

Yes, this is Disruptive Innovation come to Corporate Computing. Yes, the half century++ leader in Corporate Computing still holds IT mind-sway with AI WatsonEmbracing  of Blockchain, Quantum Computing’s Qubits and IBM Cloud Foundry. But the Trio of Cloud Computing Disruptors lead by AWS  and Google are putting  Big Blue on notice.

And that was what the Google Cloud Summit was about – Google’s ambitious reach for its piece of the System as a Service pie.

What Was Learned

The Keynote Speech and the breakout sessions provided a mixed pastiche on what is happening in the Google Cloud. As usual there was not a little chest thumping as this was the biggest Google Cloud Summit Canada with nearly double the attendance and more major partner participation, etc, etc. But some compelling facts came out as well. For example, Google’s Kubernetes has become Open Source  as an initial offering of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Kubernetes has been embraced  as a core Cloud container used by IBM, AWS, CloudOcean and other Cloud players. And major Canadian Corporations are adopting Kubernetes for key portions of their IT Infrastructure.

Most interesting was the Plato system being developed by ScotiaBank. The bank is committed to reinventing itself as a technology company using Kubernetes and the broader Google Cloud Platform as a core technology. Scotiabank is determined to introduce Banking as a Service. They have already introduced some key GCP-Google Cloud Platform components as Open Source software. There next target is to introduce some Banking as a Service offerings and marketing them broadly.

Other facts that we learned is that Google is selling Secure big time because the Web has become a pirate hacking sea. Currently more than 55% of web messages are generated by Bots not humans. And the estimates of what percentage of Bot traffic is  bad varies widely. But DDOS – attacks with millions of messages crashing down on one web address suggest the malignant portion of Bot messaging can be menacingly high.

So Google is selling Secure with three major components. First, its  core network connecting its 17 regional centers throughout the world are  connected by Google’s own very high speed network facilities. Second, Google’s AI efforts are being applied in its softwares to detect and contain bad players. And anyone who is a Google Chrome, Gmail or GSuite user has seen the intensity go up on checking usage when you break out of the usual access locations and methods.

Third, Google is saying its frontline experience on the Internet  has allowed it to learn the wiles and ways of the hackers. But these bad players are also  arming themselves with the very same state of the art software and AI methods to enable them to abscond funds from any source; steal intellectual property secrets at nominally highly protected corporate and government  developments; effect stealth installation of silent trigger bots that can wreak havoc on critical energy, transportation, and communication facilities; plus state-sponsored actors infecting social media in masked operations to create and shape disruptive social misunderstanding and unrest on a massive scale. One hopes Google and company stay ahead of the Hacking Hordes.

Clearly, Google is signalling that unlike some other major technology players [think Twitter, Facebook] it is aware of the increasing risks  to business and civil well-being posed by the various Hacking Hordes throughout the world. But even here there were mixed messages which will be discussed below.

Finally, as a Developer I  took note of the fact that Google and its partner during the keynote, took time to mention the salwart efforts of developers as they coped with ever more complex,systems, constant change in the underlying tools and the incessant demand for speed in development,debugging and deployment with a changing cast of somewhat makeshift tools.  “Yes, give it up for the developers”.

Mixed Messages at Google Cloud Summit

Google Cloud is late to the Infrastructure as a Service and Systems as a Service marketplaces. And it showed as a University of Waterloo masters candidate noted to me – “AWS has so much more. And though its complex, Amazon is packaging it better“. For example Google Suite which is Microsoft Office apps plus Gmail, Google Calendar  and Hangouts Meet[ web  video conferencing ] did not have a new winning app – say Event/Project management with smart  messaging or Media Optimization, Refinement, and Deployment Centre. Instead GSuite is sold on being Secure, Simple, Smart by means of some dashes of AI.

In a similar fashion, Google Cloud Plan 101 was discussed in a breakout with such a time limited and rapid fire session, that only the major points could be fathomed. So I went to the Qwiklabs room 5 where you could take for free 4 or 5  Cloud-related courses -this is important because there are dozens of  Google Cloud courses but they cost between $40 to $100 each online. Unfortunately, the HP Chrome books they gave me to take the course did not sign-on or boot up the right copy of the Google Cloud Essentials. So I spent the session peering over my colleague’s shoulder as she navigated the course with mixed insights. At least I know there is a CLI interface to managing lots of GCP.

At conferences like this with multiple breakout training sessions going on at the same time, there is always conflict between two or three sessions. For example, between Hassle-Free Machine Learning For Business  versus Solving Reliability Fears With Site Reliability Engineering versus Not All Databases Are Created Equal: How To Choose The Right One For You – I chose the latter. And the lecture was interesting but the breakout session was crowded. So it was hard to get picture of the many slides sitting way at the back.

So at the end of the lecture, I asked one of the lecture spokepersons if there was a posting of the slides available. She said no and  asked why not take pictures of the slides with a cellphone. I tried to explain that at the back of the room the cell phone pics were too small.to which she replied – “ask someone at the front of the room” as they were rapidly filing out. Now I would be discussing the presentation here with readers and pointing to links to the presentation notes. But when I checked with Google staff out front I eventually learned that “some presentation notes would be made available”.

This was not the only occasion when “our valued developers” were denied useful information at GCS. In a spirited discussion at one  partner pavilion, the topic of relative costs of Google Cloud versus AWS versus Microsoft Azure came up. Neither  the Google expert nor the Google partner could  address the issue nor could they point to literature or online resources that could help answer the  many costing questions.

At this point  it became clear that my questions about Small/Medium-scale Business, WordPress and eCommerce with GCP were not going to be addressed at GCS. Likewise, it would be fruitless to discuss possible negative employment effect of AI technology at any of the GCS AI sessions. So with this realization I departed GCS.

Summary

GCS-Google Cloud Summit was a mixed information swag bag. Yes insights were available to the battle royale shaping up in the Infrastructure as a Service and Systems as a Service marketplaces – Innovate or Get Displaced. Likewise Worldwide Security Risks and Creepingly Sinister Web Security Warfare/Skirmishes  got confirmed. But also evident was Google’s relatively strong security stature.  And finally as a developer the support to expect from Google in the Cloud was frankly a mixed message.

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