Google Cloud Next '21 with Brian Hall and Forrest Brazeal

On the podcast this week, Mark Mirchandani and Stephanie Wong hear all about the cool stuff happening at Cloud Next 2021. Brian Hall and Forrest Brazeal join the show to outline exciting announcements, fun partnerships, and what the future holds for Google Cloud.

The immense prep and planning that went into Next shows through in the intentional and unified strategy of announcements and offerings at the conference. Our guests talk about this process and the challenges and decisions that went into the content choices and scheduling. The addition of Community Day, for example, was implemented to create a sense of in-person participation in an online-only event.

Next kicked off this week with a Keynote presentation talking about the momentum of production and infrastructure innovation at Google Cloud, new product announcements across data cloud and open cloud infrastructure, security advancements, sustainability, and more. Our guests talk about important partnerships Google Cloud has fostered this year with clients like Ford, Univision, and GE using AI and other technologies to advance innovative ideas in their businesses. Announcements around AI and analytics at Google Cloud were plentiful, including Spark on Google Cloud that offers managed serverless data processing. Brian details the work Tableau and Google Cloud are doing to advance data visualization.

Our guests talk about the work Google has done to embrace the multi-cloud culture with advancements in Anthos and BigQuery Omni. The newly announced Google Distributed Cloud lets clients use their multi-cloud infrastructures across edge locations. Forrest talks about the pragmatic evolution to the Google Distributed Cloud offering and how other announcements like security advancements through strategic European partnerships have positively affected multi-cloud customers. We talk more about the importance of the new security announcements, like the Google Cyber Security Action Team. The changing landscape of work brought on by the pandemic has lead to more and more remote work. Workspace is adapting to this new environment, and our guests tell us about the new features available to workers at home.

As Google works to revolutionize technologies for clients, they also keep sustainability in mind. Next saw announcements in the clean cloud space and Google’s continued commitment to a carbon-free existence. New carbon reporting for clients and new features in Google Earth Engine and Active Assist help Google clients with their sustainability goals, too.

Brian Hall

Brian is the VP of Product and Industry Marketing at Google Cloud. He was formerly a VP at AWS, CEO of Doppler Labs, and VP for Microsoft Surface with 20+ years at Microsoft.

Forrest Brazeal

Forrest is a cloud educator, author, speaker, and Pwnie Award-winning songwriter based in Charlotte, NC.

Cool things of the week
  • Cloud Next site
  • Solving for What’s Next blog
  • Training more than 40 million new people on Google Cloud skills blog
  • Cloud Next site
  • Next Catalog site
  • Opening Keynote site
  • Solving for What’s Next blog
  • GKE Autopilot site
  • Workspace site
  • Vertex AI site
  • Apache Spark on Google Cloud site
  • Tableau site
  • Fivetran site
  • HVR site
  • Informatica site
  • Trifacta site
  • Anthos site
  • Bringing multi-cloud analytics to your data with BigQuery Omni blog
  • Google Distributed Cloud site
  • NetApp site
  • T-Systems and Google Cloud Partner to Deliver Sovereign Cloud for Germany press release
  • Thales and Google Cloud Announce Strategic Partnership to Jointly Develop a Trusted Cloud Offering in France press release
  • Google Cybersecurity Action Team site
  • AppSheet site
  • BeyondCorp site
  • Google Earth Engine site
  • Active Assist site
  • Data Cloud Keynote site
What’s something cool you’re working on?

Stephanie is working on a video series with Eric Brewer.

[THEME MUSIC] STEPHANIE: Hey, everyone. Welcome to episode number 280 of the weekly Google Cloud Platform Podcast. This is Stephanie Wong, and I am here with Mark Mirchandani. Hey, Mark.

MARK: Hey, Stephanie, and all you lovely cloud people that are listening to the podcast.

STEPHANIE: Oh. Is that your invitation of Forrest doing the radio voice?


MARK: Yeah, not at Forrest's level, but I think the listeners will get a chance to check out how awesome Forrest was on this podcast. Speaking of which, we should probably tell them who's on the podcast.

STEPHANIE: I was about to say, you go ahead.

MARK: We have a really great conversation. In case people have been living under a rock, we are talking about Google Cloud Next, which is just the biggest Google Cloud event of the year. We've been doing it for lots of years. We used to have some great in-person conversations. Unfortunately, this year we're not able to have those, but we do have this awesome virtual event.

And for our episode this week, we are bringing in Brian Hall and Forrest Brazeal to talk all about the announcements from Google Cloud Next. And there's no shortage of announcements.

STEPHANIE: Yes. And I think to everyone's benefit, it is no longer nine weeks long this year. It's only three days long, which I think is great for a virtual conference. But yes, we are going to talk to two of the people who are helping to shape the conference and the content around it. So we're really excited to get them both in a room.

But yeah. I mean, I guess we can talk about the Cool Thing of the Week.


MARK: Tell me, Stephanie. What would be the major cool thing to talk about this week?

STEPHANIE: Well, I know that Thanksgiving is coming up. No, it is Google Cloud Next. Google Cloud Next, yes, it's happening right as we are speaking. It started yesterday Tuesday. And we still have day two today. And day three, Community Day, starts tomorrow. So obviously, I'm going to go ahead and encourage everybody to go to to check out the catalog.

We do have live streams happening, but it's up to you to put together your own playlist of breakout sessions, interactive sessions, demos, and more. So go ahead and do that. We also have expert playlists created for you by yours truly and others. So go ahead and check that out.

MARK: Yeah, I love those expert playlists, because there are really great way to get some recommendations for which sessions to check out. Or, like you said, there's tons of sessions, interactive content, lots of breakout conversations. There's just so much stuff-- thankfully, a little bit more consumable than last year. I think we have a good selection of things to check out. And hopefully, you'll kind of find the areas you're interested in and take a look.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. And what I like about the UI this year is that you can filter by not just the session types, but you can filter by your persona or job role. You can filter by difficulty or depth of content. So you can really hone in and fine-tune based on what you're interested in. And the expert playlists are a great way to do that as well if you're just only looking for the most technical security or data analytics sessions, for example.

The other thing I'll mention is that TK-- Thomas Kurian, our CEO-- put out a blog post yesterday outlining the strategy and future at Google Cloud, along with some of the key announcements with our customers and partners featured. So go ahead and take a look at that.

But we are about to dive into the details of that with Brian and Forrest. So just hold on for just a moment, and you will get a sneak peek.

MARK: Yeah. There's definitely a lot of announcements that Brian and Forrest do a good job of breaking down some of their favorite ones. But before we do dive into that one, I want to call out my cool thing of the week, which is this blog post that talks a little bit about some of the training.

A big part of it talks about the efforts that Google Cloud Training is putting together. I've talked a little bit about those as they've come out throughout this year on the podcast. But I think one of the kind of key takeaways here is that there's more free training opportunities. And I love free.

So make sure to check out this blog post. I think it's really helpful to get an overview. But also, you can get access to training for a whole month, up until November 6th. So if you get a chance to check it out, definitely sign up for the free training.

You know, there's also these interactive courses on Next. But there's a lot more detail and a lot more depth in some of the Coursera courses that the training team has put together. So if you're interested in brushing up on your cloud skills-- I think there's actually some talks in Next as well talking about the training and certification. So I think those are really helpful resources, especially for folks who are kind of getting into the cloud and want to make that big career jump for some folks. Definitely worth checking out.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. I think our free training resources have always done really well for obvious reasons. People want to learn, and it's free. So really excited that we've enabled more people to have access to those.

But without further ado, let's go ahead and dive into Next. For everyone who hasn't had a chance to watch the keynote yesterday, this is going to be a great opportunity to hear the TLDR and more with Brian and Forrest.


Hey Brian. Hey, Forrest. Thanks so much for joining the podcast during Next. So first off, for everyone who may not know you yet, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do here?

BRIAN: This is Brian Hall. I am the Vice President of Product Marketing and Industry Marketing at Google Cloud. And I've gotten to spend a bunch of time this year helping get the team ready for this really amazing Next that's happening right now.

FORREST: Awesome. Yeah, I'm Forrest Brazeal. I'm relatively new to Google Cloud. I lead the content team here. And though I'm new to Google Cloud, I'm not new to cloud in general. I've been a cloud architect and a manager of cloud engineers for many years. And so I'm very excited about some of the announcements that are coming out this week.

MARK: And of course, we're all talking about Google Cloud Next, which is a fantastic conference that we've been talking about for, I think, every year that we've been doing this podcast. So Next 2021. Tell us a little bit more about, first of all, what Next is, and second of all, what it's like to work on Next and shape the content and strategy behind it.

FORREST: Yeah. I think the first thing that comes to mind-- again, this is my first time really being close to Next, because I'm relatively new to the team. And I think the thing that's been most surprising to me in a good way is just how much intentionality there is behind the announcements that you're going to encounter this week.

You're not going to encounter kind of a random smorgasbord of product announcements that don't really have much to do with each other. But you'll see there really is some strategy and some intentionality behind what Google Cloud is trying to do here. And we're going to get into that a little bit when we talk about the specific announcements.

But just think about what do the data pieces have to do with the Google Workspace pieces? Those announcements on the surface might seem very separate from each other, but you'll find that there's a real unified story to what Google Cloud is doing across the various aspects of the business. And I'm excited about diving into that here.

BRIAN: The other thing that I'll add in is that this is a very different next for us in some ways. There were many done in the past that were in-person. Last year, like many companies, we needed to respond to kind of a surprise change from it not being in-person. And we put together a nine-week-long extravaganza of presentations, and we realized we might have gone a little bit too far with the nine-week extravaganza.

And so this time, we're actually taking kind of the opposite tack and saying, let's do three fantastic days. Let's make sure that we nail the keynotes but not have too many of them. And so we have a roughly 40-minute keynote that Thomas delivered-- Thomas Kurian, who's our Google Cloud CEO. We have some fantastic spotlights that we're doing on Data Cloud, on Workspace, on security, on our open infrastructure cloud, as well as DEI and developer keynotes.

And then our last day is a community day. It's all about, how do we connect together the people who are helping drive Google Cloud forward, from the partners that we work with every day, to developers who are building on Google Cloud, giving us fantastic feedback all the time, community organizers, members of the product teams, members of our fantastic DevRel team all coming together to learn from each other and create new ideas for how we can push forward, too.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. And while it's impossible to mirror what an in-person conference would be, I agree with your point, Forrest. There's always this impressive level of intentionality, even if we're scrambling and adapting last-minute to a new virtual format. And this year we've had more time to really hone in on how to present this information.

But you mentioned, Brian, that Thomas Kurian has a keynote that happened on day one. And for folks who may not have had the chance to watch it yet, can you talk about what we can all look forward to and summarize some of the central themes?

BRIAN: Yeah. So Thomas, and, actually, Sundar Pichai, Google and Alphabet CEO, kicked off Google Cloud Next. And they talked about a number of things. Number one, the momentum that's happening with Google Cloud.

Sundar, in particular, talked about how impressed he is with the pace of product innovation, whether that's GKE Autopilot, Smart Canvas in Workspace, Vertex AI for taking a lot of the deep innovations that happen across Google and apply that into a single tool for speeding up model development and deployment for everybody; through to our industry solutions, talked about the momentum we have there; the momentum we have building out infrastructure-- we now have the most regions with multiple AZs in the market; as well as, most importantly, the momentum with customers.

And it was fun to hear Sundar talk about how Google has a unique position as a cloud infrastructure provider that's incredibly forward-looking and designed to help customers digitize and transform, coupled with a consumer ecosystem of devices and services and information, plus a security infrastructure that underpins it all that is really critical to a lot of that customer momentum. Because they're not just looking for, how do I take stuff that I ran in a data center before and push it into the cloud, but they are looking at, how do I fundamentally transform. And that requires forward-looking infrastructure, but also connecting that with customers, be they other businesses or consumers. And so Sundar talked about that for a bit.

Thomas then announced products across data cloud, open cloud infrastructure, including Google Distributed Cloud, which is brand new, and we'll talk about in a bit, workspace, security. And finally, Sundar talked more about sustainability and, in particular, how we're continuing to push the envelope, with Google Cloud being the cleanest cloud in the industry. The thing that excited me most that he announced is that we are further making recommendations for how people can take their infrastructure and move it into the right locations with the right footprints to have less carbon impact on the world. And it will be great to see what the impact is of that.

FORREST: It absolutely will be, Brian. And I just-- I want to jump in on that, the kind of open infrastructure piece that you touched on. I know we'll get into this more when we unpack what exactly Google Distributed Cloud is. But you're making this point about transformation, and how so many of our customers are realizing that for them, cloud is more than just VMs as a service, but it's about how are they going to actually do something in the cloud that they could not do just in their data centers.

I think it's fascinating to see how Google is taking a really, really strong posture at the edge now and saying, hey, whether you have systems that are low latency that are potentially not going to be available to you in the cloud, but you're still going to go ahead and provide a pane of glass, a single management layer that allows you to manage those resources in one place. It gets back to that-- again, that intentionality idea that I was talking about, where Google Cloud is not simply one piece that you plug into a strategy, but it's actually a lever that allows you to strategically touch an incredibly broad spectrum of elements of your business.

BRIAN: That's right. And combining that with our networking infrastructure and all the points of presence that we have around the world makes the combination particularly powerful, especially for companies like telcos, financial services institutions, who really do need that lowest latency but don't want to feel like they're developing for different environments and different places and having to stitch it together themselves.

FORREST: Yeah, it's just incredibly exciting to sit down with a cloud provider and to sit down with a series of offerings and say, wow, this was really thought through. It's an amazing thing.

MARK: And so hopefully, we're going to get a chance to break down a lot of what those announcements are and kind of talk about how they really help folks utilize the cloud to the best of their abilities. But I think another important part of that is, as you brought up, these partnerships that we have with all of these different companies and these different customers, who are using these-- not only these new announcements, but also the existing benefits of Google Cloud, to really help transform their business, for all that transforming your business means.

So can we talk a little bit more about some of the partnerships we've been working with this year?

BRIAN: As I mentioned, it's been a fun year for particularly transformational partnerships that bring together the cloud and other assets of Google. Like, if you look at the announcement that we made with Ford earlier this year, Ford has some super ambitious technology initiatives going on, whether it's their overall focus on electrification-- they've made announcements about how quickly they're going to be doing that. They have major investments in autonomous vehicles. They're modernizing all of their factories.

And so having a cloud provider that can give them the ability to do that faster and more efficiently than anyone else is important. But they also are continuing to push the envelope for the experience for consumers in cars, many of whom have Android phones. They want assistants that get better over time so that people can keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, yet still get information and connect with people in the right ways. And so it's a classic example where our consumer strengths and our cloud strengths come together.

You saw similarly Univision, great partnership to help on not only how do we use AI to help modernize and improve the overall viewer experience and the like, but also our media technology and advertising technology to help them optimize their business. GE Appliance, we announced in Thomas' keynote and showed a video that talks about their microwaves and stoves and appliances that are starting to use AI in order to look at the food and determine how to cook it based on the visual inspection of what's happening and comparing that to all of the other casseroles and other things that have been made in the ovens.

And first, my reaction was, wow, I've been hearing about the "download the recipe and it will know to cook for 10 minutes or something." But that never seemed that interesting to me, because it's like, OK, yeah, I can turn a dial to do that. Whereas actually visually inspecting the food and looking at it with multiple sensors in order to understand where is this, it starts getting really fascinating. And they're building their models with Vertex AI in order to do that.

I will say-- a little behind the scenes thing-- there was talk of trying to get Thomas Kurian to say, when introducing these GE Appliances, that for many years the most advanced AI has been used to identify and classify animals. Now we are going to use it to cook them better, too.


And I think for a lot of good reasons, Thomas didn't go with that. But I do feel like it would have been a milestone had he.

STEPHANIE: Oh, it feels so right and wrong at the same time, but. I was just going to say, if you didn't know, Mark actually has an entire cookbook for recipes that only require a microwave. And this is perfect for you.

BRIAN: OK, yeah. We have to have a brief commercial break here. You've got to tell us about the cookbook plug.

MARK: The AI-assisted microwave cookbook. Well, you know what, honestly I feel like adding AI and that type of processing to a microwave kind of ruins the point. The microwave cookbook makes food that is appropriately-- you can guess what the quality is, but.

STEPHANIE: I think it needs some AI. It'll get better.

BRIAN: Hey, to really kind of square the corners here, I learned on TikTok this weekend-- TikTok, a wonderful customer of Google Cloud doing really amazing things on top of Google Cloud-- that ice doesn't melt the microwave.


BRIAN: No, again, I don't know true this is. I haven't tried it yet. But what I heard is that because the crystal lattice structure-- that part didn't get told to me on TikTok-- it doesn't excite the molecules like it does for water. So now we have something we can all try after recording this podcast, folks.

STEPHANIE: Oh, you know it. I'm definitely testing this out. Yeah, just one comment about the transformation story that we were just talking about. What I notice is not just cloud driving efficiency and transformation but all of these industries-- financial services, fintech, banking, there's manufacturing, Ford, as you said, with the electric cars coming across the industry. I mean, the cloud in some of these announcements are really what are fueling-- no pun intended-- these transformations.

Can we dive into some of the key announcements that have happened at Next so far in AI, analytics, et cetera? How are we achieving them?

FORREST: So one thing that I have found really interesting is this announcement of Spark on Google Cloud. There's been a lot of talk about, well, is this really the first autoscaling or serverless data processing service? And of course, those are terms that have a lot of meanings depending on who you ask. So I'm sure you could draw the line such that it definitely is.

But something I find really interesting about this-- and this is coming from-- I've been a serverless guy for a long time. I've been in the space for a while-- is in some ways, data processing is kind of like the canonical use case for serverless. You think about building a serverless system that can take data in at one end and can process it asynchronously, because you don't have a customer that's waiting for it usually right there on the other end, so you are not potentially worried about latency and that sort of thing.

And then you theoretically can spin it up when you want. You don't necessarily want it running all the time. So there's a big argument for a system like this being serverless and not charging you compute time 24/7.

But what makes Spark on Google Cloud interesting relative to other serverless data processing type of services we've seen in the past is that a lot of these PaaS services, I feel like, have been very infrastructure-y, if I can use that term. And if you look at the architecture diagram, it's a lot of cloud functions, and they're glued together with buses and different streams and a bunch of triggers involved.

And it's almost like you're looking at that picture of the conspiracy theorist's whiteboard with all the different pictures and the strings and the pushpins. That's what a lot of serverless architectures look like. I'm sorry, it just is.

And what Spark on Google Cloud is doing is saying, hey, what if this really was a managed service, and you could turn the key, and you could just run it? To me, that's pretty transformative, to borrow our term from earlier. And I'm very excited to see more announcements in that vein coming out.

We're going to be talking about more of these integrations. I won't steal the thunder, but Brian, I know you probably want to talk about like Tableau and some of the other integrations that are happening there.

BRIAN: Thank you, Forrest. Tableau is a really interesting one for us, because, as everyone knows, it's one of the most popular, if not the most popular way to do visualizations on data. And we have a lot of data.

We have data that millions of people, if not tens or hundreds of millions of people, are inputting into Google Sheets. We have some of the most important data sets in BigQuery that are used for both operational and analytical purposes. We have a lot of really most interesting data governance and data experience-oriented sets done in Looker.

And what we're announcing is a partnership with Tableau in order to make it even easier to do visualizations on top of those, such that customers that use those products will know that if they also use Tableau, they're getting the best of both worlds, whichever of our data worlds they're choosing in order to interact with Tableau.

We have a number of other partners that we also announced as part of the keynote. And they range everything from a closer partnership with Fivetran, and HVR for making it super easy, like, darn near one button-click easy to take SAP data and move it into BigQuery, and then you can do everything to put the BigQuery treatment on it from there that we're really excited about. We're also working with Informatica, Trifacta, number of other companies that are continuing to just recognize that our open data cloud approach means that they can feel really comfortable with their mutual customers of ours being able to have one set of data treated using the best tools across Google Cloud tools and these partners' tools.

MARK: So if you're a person working within data, which I think encapsulates most of the folks who probably work on the cloud, there's going to be some super exciting announcements around Vertex and different things to check out there. But since there are so many announcements at Next, one of the other big initiatives is talking about open cloud and multicloud. So can we hear a little bit more about the Anthos and multicloud announcements?

BRIAN: Yeah, you bet. This is probably one of the most exciting things that we're announcing here at Google Cloud Next. I think most people probably have seen that Google Cloud is the only cloud that has truly embraced multicloud, recognizing that you're going to have data, you're going to have infrastructure in multiple clouds. And it's a service to customers and partners to make it easier to work across those.

We have gotten a lot of feedback over time from customers that they really appreciate that and are embracing it using Anthos for infrastructure. They love the BigQuery. Omni allows you to bring together data that's sitting in S3, sitting in Azure Storage, and on Google Cloud, and then have one way of operating with it.

But they wanted it to go further. They wanted it to go to edge locations that are operated by Google Cloud. They wanted it to go to telco infrastructure, communication service provider infrastructure, especially for applications that are being built on 5G AR/VR applications, anything that has really low latency requirements. They wanted it in branch locations. They wanted it in their data centers.

We are announcing Google Distributed Cloud, which allows you to use one set of infrastructure based on Anthos. Anthos is really the key to how we're able to make this distributed with one management model across all those locations. And we're doing that through our own software but also partnering with HPE, Dell, and NetApp, to have some of the best hardware and software combinations available in order to do that. And it allows people to work with trusted partners that they already know well.

We've made some big announcements recently in Europe, announcing with T-Systems in Germany, and Thales, which is a wonderful security and trust-oriented partner in France, what we are calling sovereign cloud deployments, where, because of our unique architecture for how encryption keys and data are managed, you will be able to work with Thales or T-Systems, and support all European data sovereignty requirements. They're able to essentially be the people locally that are controlling everything for you, even though it's building on the infrastructure that Google Cloud has created. And there's no communication back to the Google Cloud central infrastructure or the like, unless that's what you want to have happen.

And it's been fun to see the momentum that those partnerships has created with customers and the support that we're getting from the French and German governments as well as broader European leadership for the innovative approach that we've taken here.

FORREST: Yeah. And I think there's a cool overarching theme here of Google Cloud kind of meeting you where you are as a customer. We talk about multicloud. And sometimes I say that multicloud is-- whether or not you see it at a workload level in terms of an individual application that's somehow spread over multiple clouds. You might not be doing that. Most of us aren't. But it's almost inevitable at an organizational level past a certain size and complexity.

You are going to have workloads running in multiple different places, whether that's because of acquisitions, or whether that's because you've just made strategic bets to build on best-of-breed services in different places, or whether it's because, kind of like Brian was saying, you've got these really specific needs around edge requirements, like the telco situations he was mentioning. You're just going to have the need to run applications in places that are not all in the traditional, classic, public cloud environment. And Google is making it easy for you to do that while still having a unified management plane. That's the cool thing about Anthos.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. I was going to say, Forrest, for those of the audience who know you and your work, you, to me at least, represent this multicloud background. And I'm sure you've worked with clients even in the past who have experienced that exact scenario. So I mean, what's your view on this distributed cloud future?

FORREST: It's been an evolution for me personally, because there was a time in my career where I was pretty down on multicloud. I was really viewing it through this lens of, well, why don't you just go ahead and re-architect everything and build it in the public cloud? That's what I would do. That seems like the path of least resistance.

But that doesn't line up with reality. You know, reality is a lot messier. Reality takes time. Reality has things like sovereignty requirements like in Europe that require you to think about the way you're building in a way that's not like this idealistic "in a vacuum, if you could choose every parameter and inputs you would do it this way."

By Google being pragmatic in that way, it's lined up with what I've learned over the years, which is, you know what, we've got a lot of applications that we've got to migrate, that we've got to modernize. It's going to take us time to do that. Some of them may end up in the public cloud. Some of them may end up needing to be in a place where they have low latency or where they are responding to certain regulatory constraints. Let's go ahead and do what we can to build an overarching framework around that, that lets us continue to deliver and ship with the minimum amount of retraining and rebuilding that's needed to actually show some transformative value.

BRIAN: I'm going to jump in a little bit, since we're talking about open cloud, multicloud, distributed cloud. At the risk of dating myself a little bit, I get flashbacks sometimes to big debates of the past.

I remember in the '90s you were either a Unix shop, or you were a PC ecosystems shop. Or in the 2000s, Windows versus Linux. And really strong statements would get made from one side to the other. Or in 2010s, it was, are you cloud or are you not cloud?

And in particular, you needed to be all in. Because you can't really be committed to cloud if you're not all in. And kind of famously, one of the cloud vendors that I may have worked for at one point in time did not allow people to use the word multicloud. Just not OK. It was kind of like Steve Ballmer talking about Linux as a cancer way back when.

And just like at Microsoft when Steve Ballmer was doing this, people were like, well, that might be a little strong of a statement, guy. I happen to know that not acknowledging that the world is a multicloud world, just like not acknowledging that Linux and Windows can both be great or PC ecosystem and Unix can be great, and a lot of the most interesting things will be learning from multiple, and then putting them together in the right way, it feels like we're at that point right now. And I'm happy at Google Cloud that we're really open to that reality.

STEPHANIE: I completely agree. I think the conversation tone has changed significantly, even in my career in cloud so far. And you know, it's almost like the language wars in the '90s, as you mentioned as well. So yeah, it's exciting to see that we're closer to reality across our customer base, which is they're not going to be fully bought in one vendor, no matter what.

BRIAN: To be realistic, people are probably going to have preferred clouds for new projects that they put out. Like, that seems super reasonable. Maybe their data cloud goes on Google Cloud and some other piece of infrastructure goes on AWS or Azure. But we are in a new world.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. And one of the key concerns and focus areas that has come up and, more recently, has been software security, especially with multicloud and distributed architectures. So I know that we actually had a number of key announcements around security, including the Cybersecurity Action Team. So can you tell me a little bit more about why we're investing in this space?

BRIAN: Well, the why is really clear. Number one, the cybersecurity risks just keep going up, whether it's the ransomware attack today or the data dumps tomorrow. Like, it just is happening more and more. And sophistication levels are going up. And it's challenging industries in countries and more, not just individual companies.

Which is why, number two, it's a board-level, CEO-level topic now. Security used to be something that was kind of pushed down into the IT department, or even into real estate. There was physical security and IT security, and they were really pushed down. And that isn't the case anymore.

And so as we have these transformational conversations, they need to know that we're also bringing the best security technology, the best security partnerships, but also the best security know-how and help for them and their teams to bear. And so that's why this Cybersecurity Action Team is so important.

It is essentially Google saying, hey, we have 5,000-plus of the best security people in the world who have been protecting Google, protecting Google customers, protecting Google Cloud customers. How do we activate that? How do we turn it into an action team to engage with companies, partners, and governments to share what we're learning, learn from them, and start to deliver best practices, new tools, new capabilities to our customers through direct engagement?

FORREST: And the exciting thing about this, Brian, is I think because you can look at some aspects of technology that people can salt on and say, well, you know, how generalizable really is this? But what I like about the Cybersecurity Action Team is, in reality, the best practices that they're going to be bringing out of Google and to the industry, they're not just going to be things that are like, well, this is a Google-level problem, and only Google will have this problem.

These are going to be cybersecurity challenges that everyone faces. In a lot of cases, it's not an out-there esoteric thing. It's just really hard to execute on, and you need some discipline to come alongside you and help you make it happen. These are going to be things around, I'm sure, making sure that your folks know how not to get phished, and that you have the right hygiene around IAM, and making sure that your keys are taken care of and are rotated appropriately, or whatever the case may be.

None of that is rocket science in the sense that you would need someone to go do six months of discovery inside of your company to tell you that's what you need to do. But you need someone who can come in who's done it before, who has the experience of having executed this over and over and over again. That's what Google is bringing. And I think it's going to help a lot of customers.

MARK: Yeah. It's super exciting to see the amount of support that that's going to lend to these folks, especially as they do grow into very, very complicated cloud spaces. I mean, multicloud being a great example of where you're going to really need to think about security as an entirely separate layer.

We've spent a lot of time talking about infrastructure and different cloud tools here. But of course, the world has changed significantly over the past year, year and a half. And a big part of that has been the shift to remote work for a lot of people. There were a bunch of announcements this year at Next around Workspace. Can we talk a little bit more about what some of those announcements are, and how that's going to help people as well?

FORREST: Look, we've got, what, something like 3 billion users on Google Workspace now across a variety of-- whether it's home, whether it's school, whether it's work, they're using Google Workspace to create documents, and collaborate on spreadsheets and presentations and everything else. And some of the things that you'll see coming this year is just more flexibility and more integration.

There's a Jira integration now for Google Chat, which is super cool. You can create new tickets, see previews, and monitor issues as they come in within spaces. We're also actually integrating AppSheet directly into Gmail now, which means that anybody, whether you're consider yourself a developer or not, whether you're comfortable with code, you can create what we would call no-code or low-code apps and automations actually directly in your inbox.

And then you'll see some security innovations in Google Workspace as well to give customers stronger privacy and data security controls. And that just prevents sensitive information from leaking outside your organization.

BRIAN: First, I'm really excited about the AppSheet integration. Like, the number of times that I'm emailed a link to a form or to a survey or something like that, that can just now be done right within Gmail is very exciting. It's going to save people time. It's going to get us better data. Really happy about that.

The other thing that I'm excited about that Sundar announced is a new program called Work Safer that is really designed for small and medium businesses and governments. And it can be taken advantage of by all, but we see the biggest opportunity with small/medium businesses and governments to package together the pieces that allow them to take a zero-trust approach to security.

And so this is looking at, not only how do we give people the best collaboration tools, but also a whole new security model that uses Workspace, Chrome browser, BeyondCorp, which is technology for giving incremental access just-in-time based on a number of attributes to resources, plus the best technology from partners, and packaging that all together in a way that doesn't require an IT department to do it all but is built together. So we will be rolling that out shortly, but I'm really excited about how that's going to impact cybersecurity around the world building on the approach that Workspace takes.

FORREST: Absolutely. And I want to tie this back real quick, Brian, to that intentionality conversation we were having at the beginning. Because I know one thing that I always used to struggle with looking at Google from the outside is, well, wait a minute. You've got this cloud, and then you've also got this collaboration tools offering, and you're talking about them in the same breath. But those feel like two different things to me as a developer.

Look at this AppSheet integration that Brian's talking about. Or think about, for example, the ability to connect Sheets directly to BigQuery. You're talking about a way of moving up the stack a little bit transformatively. And that's actually enabling you to create something that I think looks much closer to the future of cloud services than maybe just raw VMs as a service are. You're moving up the stack, and you're enabling people to build and to integrate at a higher level than ever before. If that's not cloud, what is?

STEPHANIE: I just love seeing the technology that underpins Google Cloud Platform also kind of transferring over to the workspace as well, with security and, as you said, higher levels of abstraction, empowering developers and low-code development, it's really exciting to see there. But one thing that underpins all of this as well is sustainability, as we mentioned earlier.

Brian, do you mind just touching on that really quickly?

BRIAN: Yeah, you bet. Three things that we announced that kind of build on top of what we've already done with Google Cloud to make it the cleanest cloud in the industry. I think people probably know we've been carbon-free through offsets since 2007. But we've made a commitment to be fully carbon free energy promptly.

That's looking at how the data centers and all of our work across Google, not just with Google Cloud, is done. But to apply this to specifically our customers, three things that I'm excited about that we announced. First is carbon reporting.

So just like you can generate a bill for Google Cloud, you'll also be able to generate here is your carbon impact. And that's looking specifically at the details of the services and infrastructure that you provided. That will be also integrated into Salesforce's Sustainability Cloud. So if you use that to report beyond just cloud infrastructure, you'll be able to import that, have the data available there really easily. Number two, we announced that Google Earth Engine is integrating with BigQuery in a way that is really optimized for how do you start building applications that can look at climate change in a visual way using this fantastic data infrastructure.

And then third, we've taken Active Assist, which we've used in the past to help people save money by giving recommendations around idle infrastructure or where that infrastructure is running to help save money, we're now applying that as well to carbon impact. So if we see things that are generating carbon that could be generating less carbon by moving to a different location, by being run in a different way, we're going to start to give proactive recommendations, because we know that that's something, if we nudge people in just the right way, we can help them have less carbon impact in addition to our whole infrastructure. So excited about seeing what the impact of those will be in the market.

MARK: Yeah. It's really unique and really meaningful to be able to take that type of information and bring it to surface, and let folks really see a little bit more about the type of impact they're having, and then to make better choices based on that type of information. I'm super, super looking forward to kind of seeing better integration for that in the future, and just how everyone can be a little bit more aware.

We are, unfortunately, running pretty close to out of time here. All of these announcements, there's so much that we've covered in just this episode talking about Next. Where would be the best place for people to kind of learn more about these?

FORREST: So I've got to shout out the blog, because we'll have a fantastic amount of breakdowns coming out, of course during the Next itself, but then also in the days and weeks following, as we continue to dig more deeply into these announcements. You can check that out at And we'll have some links there that take you directly to the What's New post, where we're rounding up everything related to Next. You can find it all in one place.

STEPHANIE: Great. We will include links to all of that in the show notes once we have those. Thank you so much. I know we've gone through a lot of information to cover even just day one of Next. So I want to thank you both. Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap up?

BRIAN: I think we have to point out what a great job you did, Stephanie, as part of the Data Cloud spotlight hosting it with Gerrit Kazmaier. It was fun to see the way that you both brought that exciting topic to life.

STEPHANIE: Thank you so much. It was a wonderful opportunity to experience that and do that with Gerrit, even in a remote environment with everyone. So yeah, everyone definitely check that out. We have a lot of exciting announcements that we talked a little bit about today. But if you want to see a live demo, Q&A, check out these spotlight sessions and keynotes.

All right. Well, thank you so much to you both then. Looking forward to day two and three of Next.

FORREST: Thanks so much, Stephanie. This was awesome.

STEPHANIE: Wow. So, so many things that they just covered. But I do want to highlight a couple of my favorites, one of them being Google Distributed Cloud. I think that was one of the biggest announcements in the keynote yesterday. And I think it's pretty new and exciting, because it extends our infrastructure to edge locations, and it's sort of continuing on with our vision to enable people outside to the edge with our Anthos managed control plane. So it's really just giving customers more choice for how and where to run their workloads.

MARK: Yeah. It was really exciting to see all the announcements around Anthos, because I think it's just bringing more flexibility. Google Cloud especially is focusing on this open infrastructure idea. And you can really see from the announcements this year kind of following through on that. And just helping folks in all kinds of scenarios still use Google Cloud regardless of where the data or the infrastructure is located, it's pretty cool to see.

I was definitely a big fan of the sustainability announcements. I think it's super, super cool that not only is Google kind of moving forward with the carbon-free but actually the no-carbon energy commitment by 2030, but also kind of all the things that are being built into the console so people can see the carbon impact of different workloads. And I just think that's amazing. I think it's a super, super cool way to look at it.

And for folks who are really kind of looking to measure their impact but also kind of take action on it, I think it's invaluable, you know?

STEPHANIE: Yeah. I think one of the most important immediate steps to making change as a whole is to just have access to information and being knowledgeable about it, even if you're not ready to take action just yet. And I've noticed that that's worked for me, even by seeing the carbon impact for flights like in Google Flights and whatnot. So that's been helpful. I'm hoping to see the same results across cloud users.

Speaking of extending usability for data and even Anthos across places, we covered the same theme, essentially, in our data cloud keynote. And so there are a lot of announcements happening in the keynote right after TK's. If you didn't have a chance to take a look, it's on demand on the Next website.

And we are going to actually cover some of those next week, right, Mark?

MARK: That's right. Yeah, next week we're going to have a great deep dive into a lot of the data announcements. So we'll talk a little bit more about Vertex. We'll talk a little bit more about Dataplex and some of the other cool data announcements that are coming up.

And then, the week after that, we're going to get even deeper with some of the Earth Engine announcements. So we can talk a little bit about what those are, how people can take advantage of it. And hopefully, we'll talk a little bit more about the sustainability and carbon impact as well.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. Kind of interesting how it crosses both boundaries and those spaces, right? Sustainability, data, it's great.

MARK: It's all connected, you know? And that's kind of the cool part about releasing that carbon information, is that you get to see how those things work together with the geospatial stuff. You're actually going to be able to see a lot of the data that's already been collected.

And then, again-- I think we'll get into much more detail in this-- in that episode two weeks from now. But an important part of it is like, how do you take that data, along with whatever your business data is, your logic, or whatever ideas you have, and how do you kind of combine those to kind of really create important output? I think that's the coolest part about it, is like, hey, Google's got a ton of data that could be useful to you, but really, it's your ideas, and it's your kind of cool inventions that really move us forward. It's just this data is hopefully going to help you do that.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. A lot of times, you don't know what you're looking for. But with the power of other data sources externally or third-party services, you can discover and explore a lot more with that.

That being said, I know you're going to be handling and leading some of those episodes, but what else are you working on?

MARK: Well, I think tomorrow, the day after this episode is posted, we're also going to have some great posts from folks on our DevRel team, who are really kind of going to distill down some of the announcements and talk about what they thought was exciting. So definitely check that out. Those will all be posted to the Google Cloud Blog.

And otherwise, we're just trying to take as much advantage of all these cool announcements and see how we can help folks work on them, and learn from them. And we'll probably see a whole bunch of content coming out throughout the year and picking up in the next year that really just take these announcements to the next level.

So yeah, keep an eye out for that. I mean, there'll be tons of stuff. But it'll be all over throughout the year. We'll probably be working on these until the next Google Cloud Next.

So what about you, Steph?

STEPHANIE: Yeah. So for those of you who are active in the Kubernetes space, you might have recognized that KubeCon is also this week. But I have been working on a video series with our Google fellow Eric Brewer, who has played a big role in Kubernetes and its open source strategy over the last decade at Google.

And so I've been able to sit down with him to talk about his experience doing that, and what he sees as the next wave within the open source community, along-- within Google Cloud. So go ahead and check it out. We have one episode out from last week. And we are coming out with an additional three in the next couple of weeks. So yeah, we'll have the link in the show notes.

MARK: That's awesome. Yeah, there'll be lots of Kubernetes content.

STEPHANIE: Well, for everyone else, thanks so much for joining. We hope you enjoy Next. Check it out if you haven't yet. And we have a lot more Next content coming up in the next two weeks. So we'll see you all next time.

MARK: Bye, everybody.


It's dangerous. Yeah, this is top 10 Mike Rowe "Dangerous Jobs" kind of stuff.

STEPHANIE: It does say when you open these in the package. It's like, warning, this thing has an auto-loaded spring, and it might actually just expand and slap you in the face.

MARK: You can't have good audio quality without the threat of injuring yourself. That's what I've always said.

STEPHANIE: Have a sliver of fear in your voice. It's the best voice to have during a podcast.



Mark Mirchandani and Stephanie Wong

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