G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps, is an intelligent suite of tools that makes it easy for you to collaborate with others and through it, increase the overall productivity of your organization. It comes with a plethora of features that make communication, administration, and collaboration a breeze in today’s connected world.
G Suite sits on the Google Cloud Platform, or GCP, for short. This platform is versatile, flexible, and allows developers to build applications, host them, store data, analyze, and do much more. Much of these capabilities are due to the underlying scalable infrastructure that virtually gives you unlimited computing power to do the things you want.
With such powerful offerings, Google is a key player in the cloud market today. And it’s only right that the latest G Suite cloud webinar, titled the “G Suite Journey to the Cloud,” created much buzz among industry experts, cloud enthusiasts, developers, and anyone interested in learning more about productivity tools.
Google Cloud Sales Manager Vincent Wienczorkowski and Cloud Customer Engineer Collin Frierson handled this webinar.
In this two-part series, we’ll dive deep into some key takeaways from this webinar. The first part will focus mostly on the evolution and future of GCP, Google’s infrastructure, and security while the second part will cover the G suite and its future roadmap.
Google Cloud Platform and where it’s heading
Wienczorkowski introduced GCP as a platform that offers a range of services from custom solutions to a fully managed cloud storage. A salient aspect of GCP, according to Wienczorkowski, is that it can be customized based on the needs and preferences of any sized enterprise.
Looking back a bit, Google originally created the cloud to run its own services like Gmail and search. Within a short time, Google realized it can be used to meet the unique requirements of enterprises, so its engineers began to build rapidly to cater to those needs, and that’s how we have GCP and G Suite today.
Though GCP started off as a fully managed platform based on a serverless/no-ops model, Google soon understood that customers were finding it hard to move their data and applications from physical storage like datacenters to the cloud.
To help customers manage this transition, Google started a virtualized model about six years ago. In this model, all resources are moved to virtual machines and from there, to a fully managed system if your business needs it. Since some companies want just a virtual storage and computing platform, this virtual model works well for them.
Though these models are distinct and serve the needs of its wide clientele, that’s not the end of it. Google wants to constantly improve its offerings to become a leader in this market segment.
To give you a perspective on the efforts taken in this regard, Wienczorkowski gave an insight into some of the areas that its engineers are working on right now.
- Access control: This feature gives access to data through granular policies, so you can have better control over your security. For example, you can choose to grant only a few privileges for your production system for better efficiency and security.
- Credentialing: Google plans to implement two-factor authentication using security keys and telemetry for all its products to streamline access and security.
- Self-manager stacks: It wants to introduce more self-manager stacks like Google Manage to take routine tasks off your hands. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s an open-source tool that manages and installs patches for you so you can focus on your core work.
- Free tools: Google plans to release more free tools that’ll make it easy to move data from machines to the GCP for free. This can be particularly useful when you want to migrate legacy and not-so-cloud-friendly applications like tiered ones to the cloud.
- Cool apps: One of the highlights of this webinar is the work being done on many cool apps. Some of them are:
- Google app engine: With this engine, you can simply copy-paste your code and Google will run it for you.
- Firebase: This is a great tool for mobile application, and it’s automatically integrated with GCP.
- Google container service: Popular Google apps like Gmail and search run inside these containers. Now, Google wants to extend this service to its clients as well using the Kubernetes open-source distribution network.
- Google compute engine: This is the raw power of Google’s infrastructure that you can use to run any kind of complex computation.
- Apigee: This is an important tool, especially if you’re dealing with legacy systems, because it acts as a bridge between the cloud and legacy systems. This way, moving your applications to the cloud is less complicated.
These are some of the features we can expect over the next few months, and a mere glance is enough to understand the huge impact these apps and changes can have on your IT systems and your organizational productivity at large.
This discussion of GCP brought up the question of why opt for GCP when there are so many platforms like AWS and Azure. Looks like the Google duo thought along the same lines, too, and this is why Frierson went on to talk about the salient features of Google’s infrastructure, just to drive the point that it is way more than what meets the eye.
Frierson talked about the achievements or hallmarks of Google infrastructure and listed the following salient features.
- Google’s infrastructure is unprecedented in speed and scalability, and this is most evident from the way it supports millions of Gmail and Chrome users.
- Its built-in redundancy ensures that customers have access to their sites all the time.
- Customer-friendly pricing is what’s giving Google an edge over its competitors, according to Frierson. It uses the smallest metric available to measure usage, and this obviously helps you to save money. For example, you pay by the minute for using virtual machines and by the second for big data queries, so you pay for just what you use.
- Google plans to have a wide geographic coverage, with more than 17 locations worldwide, by the end of 2017 to meet the growing needs for on-demand services.
And that’s not all.
If infrastructure is one side of the coin, security is the other. Frierson also laid down the security approaches and the steps his company has taken to beef up their security at all levels.
The many hacking incidents that’s happening worldwide, including the much debated role of Russian hackers in the U.S. presidential election, has brought digital security to the forefront once again.
Google’s approach revolves around the idea of having multiple security layers to protect the data stored on its platform. Currently, hardshell perimeter is the most common form of defense used in many apps, but that alone is not enough because once the firewall is breached, any data can be accessed with a simple username and password.
This is why Google uses a range of different techniques such as encryption, deep inspection of packages running through its system, constant vigilance for intrusion and wrong access, and more. In fact, all these techniques are applied automatically across all services with no effort needed from your end.
Besides implementing strong security measures, Google thinks it’s equally essential to instill trust and confidence in you. This is why it spends considerable time and effort in getting certifications from security organizations and implementing third-party audits to attest its security levels. According to Frierson, Google’s security meets the toughest standards in the industry such as HIPAA, EU Data Protection, and privacy directives from EU and South Korea.
Abstraction and automation
Google automates many best practices in security to reduce the chances of common errors and mistakes at any level. It also strives to use innovation to address the many challenges that come with cloud security.
In addition, its systems automatically run all the latest security patches, so you can focus on your business without worrying about these mundane tasks.
With all that said, the speakers then turned the focus on one of the big questions that’s in the mind of every organization - how to turn data into value using all these different approaches and infrastructure?
Google has come up with a few ways to make the most of your data using advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and machine algorithms. Some of them are outlined below.
- An integrated data analysis platform that allows you to stream and collaborate using real-time data.
- A fully managed Hadoop and Spark dataproc to reduce the cost of using Hadoop.
- A data warehouse called BigQuery that’s serverless, petabyte-sized, scalable, and operates on a pay-as-you-go model.
- TensorFlow learning algorithms that are based on Google’s research into machine learning and AI.
Using these different techniques, Google contends that any organization can make the most of its available data.
After such a deep insight into Google’s operations and its many components, the speakers moved on to G Suite, its journey, and more importantly, how it can be used to increase collaboration and productivity.
We’ll talk about all this and more in our next and concluding part.