Crowded conference hall. Photo.

Google Next in San Francisco was the big happening for Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in April 2019. As part of the program, Thomas Kurian, the new CEO for GCP was presented to the over 30 000 participants. In total, about 35 Norwegians from Google Partners and customers attended. 

Kristian Enger and Niko Nyström from Itera participated to get the latest updates, new inspiration, exciting insights and to create new business relationships that will support Itera’s focus on digital platforms.  

A massive program with high-class speakers, workshops, networking events and informal discussions in the conference venue, in coffee shops and bars, resulted in a very large number of takeaways. While it is not possible to get an objective overview of everything, the most important takeaways from my point of view were: 

  • The event confirmed that Google and the other technology giants already have and will continue to invest massively in the development of their cloud platforms and the related ecosystems. Based on the technologies, many new opportunities will evolve, and existing business models and ways of working must change.  
  • The technology platforms of the largest cloud providers (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) have similar architectures, functionalities and tools.  They all want to build solutions that are easy to use for non-tech people and to offer APIs for sight, language and conversation in addition to the traditional structured data solutions. 
  • Many large organizations will choose more than one platform due to different needs in different parts of the organization, or to avoid dependency on one vendor.  
  • At the conference, Google launched Anthos, a solution that facilitates the management of cloud solutions from multiple vendors. The solution is launched as a beta, and according to Google insiders, it will take several months for it to be mature and worth testing. Amazon is rumored to launch something similar soon. 
  • The cloud service providers have a good understanding of their very critical role related to security and sustainability. Security and the protection of personal data were some of the focus areas of the event. Google is also by far the world’s largest purchaser of renewable energy. 
  • Which consequences will the development of highly-efficient cloud-based solutions have for you and me, the organizations we work for and for the world? 

Strong focus on developing competence will be required from all who work closely with new technologies and cloud-based business models. The competence must be built by hands-on testing of the solutions, and not just by reading articles or watching video tutorials. Typical examples for non-tech people include to create an account in GCP or another platform, to experiment with machine learning tools and to attend solution specific cloud foundations online courses and general online trainings on Pluralsight or Coursera, e.g. “Elements of AI” (a Finnish AI course). 

Organizations must evaluate the development and decide how to utilize cloud solutions and ecosystems to develop their operations. At Itera, we aim to be our customers’ main partner in their cloud transformation. Hence, the key priority for the whole organization the last year has been and will continue to be to build competence on digital platforms.  

How will the development of cloud computing and the success of a selected few US and Chinese giants affect the world?  

Data breaches and surveillance systems developed and implemented in China have shown how the technological development can drive the development of the society in a scary direction.   

On the other hand, what will happen in the next decades when the best talents all over the globe have access to the same extremely powerful tools, almost for free? Could access to technology make the developing countries able to close the gap to the developed world much faster than previously expected?  

Hans Rosling and others have shown that despite all the challenges, most parts of the human development globally have turned out positive in the long run. Technology has played an important role in this development. Hence, I choose to be an optimist and believe that also the development of cloud technology and the access to it will create very significant benefits over time.