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Google Cloud infrastructure innovations

By Steve Porter

Google has recently shown a continued focus on infrastructure, security, and other topics that, while not new, are essential for the continuing work of migrating businesses to the cloud—especially for the most risk-averse industries.

Infrastructure is a topic that by nature is not given to flashy new features, and it’s not generally visible to the end user. (Example: Google commissions thousands of miles of subsea cable installation via robot that most people don’t give a second thought to.) But infrastructure is what makes everything else possible. The specific areas where we see continuing investment include privacy, governance, security, and resiliency. 

An opportunity in risk-averse sectors

These investment areas will bring new opportunities, particularly in risk-averse sectors like government, healthcare, and financial services. Among other things, these investments will enhance the ability to facilitate cloud-based HIPAA and PCI compliance that’s crucial to these industries.

Many large financial institutions still view it as a huge risk to move to the cloud, so they represent a huge opportunity in the coming year or so. The more resilient and secure the solution, the more likely institutions are to embrace the game-changing possibilities of moving services to the cloud. Healthcare and government are in the same boat. These are sectors that may have lagged behind in moving to the cloud because their security and resiliency concerns are so consequential. Any data breach is serious, but it’s on an entirely different magnitude when confidential financial or medical information is involved.

It’s not that these sectors aren’t already “in the cloud” to some extent. Many have put their nonessential workloads in the cloud, but the trust simply isn’t all the way there yet when it comes to the most critical operations—at least not yet. And that is where the investments are happening: to beef up infrastructure to bridge that gap.

For these sectors, there’s a central checklist to accomplish that, an aggregate of boxes to check. And it’s not just the security that immediately comes to mind—it’s also governance, logging, and monitoring the operations of the software as well.

This infrastructure effort isn’t a single silver bullet. Google is improving the entire ecosystem. This includes allowing more granular security controls to be applied to data so you can more easily share it—precision spearfishing-style—with the exact person in the exact way. That granularity helps secure data the right way, and it’s increasingly available right out of the box.

The cloud is complex, but managing it shouldn't be.

Google Next OnAir session


Transparency and control

Part of Google’s recent infrastructure conversation has been focused on the ability of operators to better observe all the functionality and data being put in the cloud. As it was put at a Google Next session, “The cloud is complex, but managing it shouldn’t be.” This transparency is not directly related to security, but it’s connected to the big-picture goal of making enterprises comfortable with (and capable of) securely running their workloads in the cloud. This is not a static goal that you achieve once; it’s something that you continuously improve upon.

Part of the continuous improvement is simplifying how we observe our cloud workloads running. You need to be able to easily see what’s going well and what’s not. This angle is another big bet Google is making. For instance, Google Cloud's operations suite (formerly known as Stackdriver) allows an unprecedented level of managed monitoring right on the platform, and that hooks into other managed products like Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

two coworkers solving a project

Better and easier migrations

Even for enterprises that can’t yet make the investment in fully native cloud solutions, Google and its partners continue to give us tools for easier, quicker, and more intelligent VM (virtual machine) migrations. So you’re not just putting up a carbon copy of what you had in your own data center. You’re actually thinking about what you really need with regard to storage, sizing, et cetera.

Cost optimization is another priority for almost everyone. Slalom has completed many client engagements centered on how to monitor, analyze, and optimize cloud spend. So being able to do that as part of your migration makes a huge difference. There’s no getting around the fact that big migrations are going to involve some pain. But now we can offer clients new automated tools to make it less painful—many of them leveraging Google’s power in the AI and ML space.

We can spin up VM migration factories that stream VMs out of on-premises systems and intelligently deploy them to the cloud. It’s never quite that easy, but the tools are getting so smart that they can take a look at what you have running in your data center and use AI to make recommendations for where and how workloads get deployed. It’s not just a standard “lift and shift”; now there’s intelligence in the middle.

No big surprises but growing maturity

Recent Google investments in infrastructure have reinforced everything that we expect from them. Over the last four years or so, they’ve gone from the newcomer on the cloud scene to a much more established, enterprise-focused player. What we’re seeing is a solid bedrock on which Google Cloud, its clients, and partners can build lasting success.

Let’s solve together.