Last year for Google Next 2017, I was invited to check it out for free. I paid for travel, hotel, but got a free conference ticket. At that point, I was negative about Google Cloud. What I saw last year was a genuine passion and interest by Googlers to build a compelling Cloud solution. I decided to start using Google Cloud in a limited fashion. we started getting good performance and value for money from Google Cloud and I fell in love with their sustained use discounts. We decided to move more workloads to Google Cloud.
So, this year, I paid for my own travel, hotel, conference ticket. I went there with a few lingering doubts about Google. (see my previous post on my expectations)
- Are they still serious about Cloud?
- Do they understand how to build customer trust and confidence?
- Are they realizing that containers are just a tiny part of the journey to becoming a Cloud leader?
So, how was Google Next 2018?
I will discuss the good and the bad.
Caution: not exhaustive list, influenced by which sessions I went to.
- Google Cloud Functions went GA — they are investing in serverless. There are several people at Google that understand serverless and are quietly building tech to have a solid future for Google. They often get ignored by rest of GCP team and don’t get mentioned in keynotes or press releases. But, I see their passion and dedication to building a compelling serverless solution. I feel very comfortable with Google serverless now between Google Cloud Functions and continued investments in Google App Engine.
- Google Cloud Build — this is a new product, but this is a very good product and made their DevOps story more credible. This along with repositories makes it easier to stay 100% GCP for many workloads.
- Enterprise focus — Most keynotes and sessions talked about the need to work closely with customers and providing necessary services and support. This is refreshing to see. Google is no longer all about rockstar engineers throwing code over the wall to customers.
- Willing to listen — I have had conversations with many GCP product managers, engineers at the event — I was struck by how attentively they listen to customers and are willing to learn. This is again something you never used to see at Google. I suspect Diane Green leadership is changing the culture for the better. Gone is the Google arrogance, it is the new mindset to collaborate and listen to customers.
- StackDriver and Billing — these two used to be a pain for us — StackDriver has matured and documentation has improved, and several features have evolved. Stackdriver navigation still feels out of sync with the rest of the GCP, but for the most part, they are heading in the right direction. New Billing reports are awesome. They provide so many details that I do not recall ever seeing from AWS before ( might have changed recently). GCP Billing reports now make it easy to see which part of your architecture is costing you more etc.
- Food and Snacks — Seaweed, fresh fruit, almonds, whole grain chips, salads, Poke, oh my — the food was amazing and there was always coffee. You were very very generous Google. I have been to many tech conferences, where they make sure that you can only have 1 cup of coffee per day.
- Diversity — Their focus on diversity was refreshing to see. In the middle of all hatred we see in our society, it was good to see Google take a stand for diversity and equality at this conference.
- Messaging — Google messaging is a mess. Especially Day 1 keynotes felt meaningless and not sure what to make of it. If all someone saw was day 1 keynote, it is easy to conclude that Google still doesn’t get it. The keynotes got better on Day 2 and Day 3. Day 3 was amazing, IMHO with live demos and credible speakers.
- Knative — I hope we as an industry can move past the Seinfeld announcements. You know those announcements about nothing. Knative is a distraction in an industry that already has plenty of other distractions. It felt meaningless for Google to be spending even a single minute on Knative. This is not serverless and Google should not try to pivot to become a consulting company.
- Containers — no, I am not talking about docker or k8s. The containers on stage were cheesy.
- Day 1 logistics were a bit of a mess with many unable to get into keynotes but the main hall having 40–50% empty seats.
- GKE On-prem — WTF is that even? Google, you can do better. Its almost like you went and hired a bunch of strategists from Oracle, HP and IBM and asked them to figure out how Google can become as crappy as them. Its not too late, stop messing around with Hybrid crap. Google does not have Resources, Processes and Values aligned to sell on-prem software.
- Container serverless washing — lol, because you decide to call something serverless does not make it so. Especially if you want your customers to size hardware, install and maintain servers. you are trying to do OpenStack 2.0 and I can tell you that AWS folks must be loving the idea that you are wasting time on implementing bad ideas.
- Not headlining Cloud Functions and Cloud Build on Day 1 keynote were a huge missed opportunity
In summary, I would say that Google has made big strides in becoming a compelling Cloud provider. Their weakness is messaging over focus on containers. Don’t listen to what Google keynotes say, instead observe what they do. They have plenty of good products and services, you have to look for them in sessions, not in keynotes. I came away convinced that Google is a serious player in Cloud and they will start winning more and more customers.
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