Ask the Expert: Google Cloud Platform

With the Google Cloud Platform, companies can quickly and cost-effectively keep up with the pace of today’s digital transformation. The Google Cloud Platform allows businesses to build and run applications, and store and analyze data, all on Google’s Cloud. Google has made major investments to meet the demands of the enterprise market and have been bringing new capabilities to more regions, applications, and users than ever before. To dig a little deeper, we sat down with Maven Wave’s cloud expert, Brad Foster.

What is your role and how did you get involved with Google Cloud Platform?

I’m a Senior Principal at Maven Wave responsible for our Google Cloud Platform and Data Analytics practices. I first got involved with Google Cloud Platform about 6 years ago, when I believe the only products available were Google App Engine (GAE) and BigQuery. One of our first projects was building an application using GAE for a national photography company that enabled them to manage appointments and resources for 10,000 photographers and integrate with Google Calendar. Since then, our team has built many custom applications, internet of things solutions, retail marketing analytics warehouses and dashboards, and big data processing pipelines.

What differentiates Google from AWS and Azure?

I think Google differentiates themselves in 3 main areas: infrastructure, containers, and data. I believe Google has a better infrastructure than AWS and Azure. Google invested $9.9 billion in its cloud business in 2015 and planned to invest another $12 billion by the end of 2016; which is about the same amount of capital on their network and data centers that AWS and Azure invested in 2015 combined. In addition, Google’s data centers are recognized as some of the most efficient and secure in the world. In the end, that translates into cheaper, faster, and higher quality product offerings.

Second, nobody does containers better than Google. In fact, everything at Google runs in a container. This is what allowed them to scale their business so rapidly. If Google can launch 2 billion containers per week, I’m sure their Container Engine product can manage containers for your organization. Finally, Google has been a leader in the big data space for years, publishing many white papers like MapReduce, which translated into products such as Hadoop. Google finally decided to capitalize on their expertise instead of letting the rest of the world do it and has come out with amazing products like Pub/Sub, BigQuery, Dataflow, and Bigtable.

If Google has such great products, why is AWS leading the market?

I don’t think Google made the cloud a priority at first. They make a massive amount of money serving the consumer market with their ads business and continue to make great strides in that space. However, when AWS started showing billions of dollars in revenue, Google took notice and decided to step up their game. A couple of years ago, Google simply couldn’t compete with AWS because they didn’t have the product arsenal. In the past 2 years, they have put products on the market that have made them comparable to AWS. In addition, Google didn’t have an enterprise mindset or focus. They relied on their engineering to win but enterprises don’t always operate that way. I think bringing in Diane Greene (the co-founder of VMWare) to lead Google Cloud was a really smart move. We have really seen a big shift in the way Google is operating since then and I think they are setting themselves up nicely to be a leader in the space.

Google has a lot of cloud platform products available. Where do you recommend clients start?

I think the most unknown thing about Google’s product offering is probably what they can provide with their Google Compute Engine and Cloud Storage product offerings. Most companies want to meet with Google to discuss exciting topics like machine learning. However, when it comes down to a simple starting point, I would recommend first looking at scenarios for doing backup, archiving, and disaster recover to Google Cloud Storage or moving VM’s or physical servers to Google Compute Engine. The other product to look at is BigQuery. It can provide some amazing analytics capabilities for large data sets that are cost prohibitive and/or unachievable with existing data warehouses.

What Google Cloud Platform products are you most excited about?

Being that I’m an app dev and data guy, the products that excite me most are in the area of data and machine learning. I think Dataflow is a revolutionary product that will be a major competitor to Hadoop and Spark if it can gain enough traction. Not only does it allow you to perform both real-time and batch data pipelines using the same technology, but the fact that it’s open source and does not have to run on Google’s infrastructure removes the fear of vendor lock in. However, the simplicity and power provided by Dataflow’s service provide the rationale for running your pipelines with Google.

The second product that is of similar interest is TensorFlow and Cloud Machine Learning (Cloud ML). TensorFlow is the open source framework for building machine learning solutions and Cloud ML is the Google managed compute where you can run your models and take advantage of “pre-built” models in areas such as images, translate, speech, and text. Again, Google has taken an open source approach to promote innovation and sharing of the models while allowing people to choose what compute power suits them best.

With the exponential growth of the Google Cloud Platform product set, it can be somewhat daunting to figure out where to start and which products can provide the most value to your organization. Maven Wave can help by mapping the opportunities and challenges you face to a quick and simple GCP roadmap. For more information on the Google Cloud Platform, contact us.


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