5 Key Announcements From Google Cloud Next ’20: OnAir

‘This is a very defining moment for all of us around the world to have the hope and the optimism to reimagine your business as you recover from the pandemic,’ Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian says.


Google Cloud opened its Next ’20: OnAir virtual conference this week with new solutions that include Confidential VMs to make cloud workloads private with anytime data encryption – even when in use – and BigQuery Omni to make moving between clouds easier with Anthos-powered, multi-cloud analytics.

“Because of the global demand that we're seeing, we at Google Cloud are investing aggressively in ensuring your success as a customer or partner,” Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said during yesterday’s keynote address. “There are many different things that we're doing: expanding and specializing our global sales team, introducing new, mission-critical, 15-minute response time support, a well-defined methodology for data center transformation, and a strong and expanding global partner network.”

Next ’20: OnAir, a nine-week digital event, is serving as a replacement for Google Cloud’s annual in-person Next conference for partners and customers that was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The on-demand content for the first week focused on industry insights from Google Cloud executives, while productivity and collaboration will be next week’s theme.

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Confidential VMs (virtual machines) are Google Cloud’s first solution in its new confidential computing portfolio.

“Confidential Computing allows you, as a customer, to run workloads in Google Cloud and to ensure that data is not only encrypted at rest and in transit, but it's even encrypted while it's being processed,” Kurian said. “This gives you the ability to ensure that all your data is protected all the time when it is being processed with Google.”

Big Query Omni gives users the ability to run Google Cloud’s serverless data warehouse to analyze data from the rival Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure clouds as part of its hybrid and multi-cloud strategy.

“From just BigQuery's user interface, you can now query data in Amazon and Azure without having to move that data to Google Cloud,” Kurian said. “So you can bring the power of BigQuery analytics to where your data sits without having to pay expensive egress fees in moving that data from other cloud providers to Google.”

Google Cloud also debuted Assured Workloads for Government – designed to help customers with government workloads “without the compromises of traditional ‘government clouds’ – the Google Cloud ISV/SaaS Center of Excellence and a new customer community. And it disclosed how FOX Sports and The Procter & Gamble Co. are using its cloud computing technology to improve their operations.

“This is a very defining moment for all of us around the world to have the hope and the optimism to reimagine your business as you recover from the pandemic,” Kurian said.

BigQuery Omni

Google Cloud introduced Big Query Omni, a new multi-cloud analytics solution, powered by its hybrid and multi-cloud Anthos platform, that allows users to run the same database in multiple cloud and data center environments.

The new solution extends Google Cloud’s analytics platform to other public clouds without leaving the BigQuery user interface and without having to move or copy datasets. It’s available in private alpha for Amazon Web Services’ Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), and support for Microsoft Azure is coming soon.

Customers can use standard SQL and the same Big Query APIs to break down silos, analyze data in the same region where it’s stored and gain business insights from one pane of glass, without having to pay expensive egress fees for moving data from other cloud providers to Google Cloud, according to the company.

The cost of moving data between cloud providers isn’t sustainable for many businesses, and it’s still difficult to seamlessly work across clouds, according to Debanjan Saha, Google Cloud’s general manager and vice president of engineering for data analytics.

“BigQuery Omni represents a new way of analyzing data stored in multiple public clouds, which is made possible by BigQuery's separation of compute and storage,” Saha wrote in a blog post announcing the solution. “By decoupling these two, BigQuery provides scalable storage that can reside in Google Cloud or other public clouds and stateless resilient compute that executes standard SQL queries. Until now, though, in order to use BigQuery, your data had to be stored in Google Cloud.”

BigQuery Omni supports the Avro, CSV, JSON, ORC and Parquet data file formats.

Confidential VMs

Google Cloud unveiled the first product of its confidential computing portfolio: new Confidential VMs that allow users to run workloads in Google Cloud while ensuring their data is encrypted while it’s in use and being processed, not just at rest and in transit.

The solution, available in beta for Google Compute Engine, helps remove cloud adoption barriers for customers in highly regulated industries, according to Kurian.

“Rarely do new technologies emerge that can fundamentally change the nature of cloud computing,” Vint Cerf, Google’s chief internet “evangelist,” said in a statement. “Confidential Computing is one of those game-changers that has the potential to transform the way organizations process data in the cloud, while significantly improving confidentiality and privacy.”

Confidential computing environments keep data encrypted in memory and elsewhere outside the central processing unit (CPU).

“We already employ a variety of isolation and sandboxing techniques as part of our cloud infrastructure to help make our multi-tenant architecture secure,” Google Cloud senior product manager Nelly Porter, confidential computing engineering director Gilad Golan and Sam Lugani, lead security product marketing manager for G Suite and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), said in a joint blog post. “Confidential VMs take this to the next level by offering memory encryption, so that you can further isolate your workloads in the cloud.”

Confidential computing can unlock computing scenarios that have previously not been possible, according to the trio, and organizations now can share confidential data sets and collaborate on research in the cloud while preserving confidentiality.

The Confidential VMs are based on Google Cloud's N2D series instances and leverage AMD’s Secure Encrypted Virtualization feature supported by its 2nd Gen AMD EPYC CPUs. Dedicated per-VM encryption keys are generated in hardware and are not exportable.

“We worked closely with the AMD Cloud Solution engineering team to help ensure that the VMs’ memory encryption doesn’t interfere with workload performance,” the blogpost stated. “We added support for new OSS (Open Sound System) drivers -- NVMe and gVNIC -- to handle storage traffic and network traffic with higher throughput than older protocols. This helps ensure that the performance metrics of Confidential VMs are close to those of non-confidential VMs.”

Assured Workloads For Government

New Assured Workloads for Government, now in private beta in Google’s U.S. regions, let customers automatically apply controls to their workloads, making it easier to meet security and compliance requirements for processing government data, including those concerning U.S. data locations and personnel access.

“To meet these requirements, many cloud providers have built separate environments with standalone data centers to run government workloads,” Christopher Johnson, a security and product manager at Google Cloud, and Bhavna Batra, a trust and compliance product marketing officer, wrote in a blog post. “But these ‘government clouds’ don’t come with the technology and benefits that a modern commercial cloud provides and often require users to operate two distinct application and operation supply chains, adding cost, complexity and risk. We believe that compliance shouldn’t require compromising functionality or service availability.”

Assured Workloads for Government “simplifies the compliance configuration process and provides seamless platform compatibility between government and commercial cloud environments,” they said. It helps government customers, suppliers and contractors meet security and compliance standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense (IL4), the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

The product is slated to be made generally available with beta features this fall.

Assured Workloads Support, expected in the fourth quarter, will include premium 24/7 support from a U.S. person in a U.S. location, with 15-minute target service-level objectives for priority-one cases.


Customer to Community (C2C) is billed as an independent community where Google Cloud customers, including IT executives, developers and other cloud professionals, can connect, share and learn.

“Over the last several months, I’ve seen first-hand how the power of knowledge-sharing and community has galvanized our customers in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic,” Kelly Ducourty, managing director of Google Cloud’s go-to-market strategy and operations, said in a blog post. “Our customers are asking important questions, forging partnerships and creating real solutions to today’s most challenging problems by harnessing the power of the cloud and each other. It’s been nothing short of inspiring. We know from experience that when we support our customers and expand their access to insights and community, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.

Customers joining C2C, which is currently open to those in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will get access to exclusive networking opportunities, then ability to connect with other customers through virtual and in-person events, and expanded access to Google Cloud experts and content such as knowledge forums, white papers and methodologies. They’ll also receive early and exclusive access to Google Cloud product roadmaps and will be able to provide feedback and serve as customer-advisors

Fox Sports, Procter & Gamble And Google Cloud

FOX Sports announced it was working with Google Cloud to automate what it called one of the “most manual processes in media entertainment” -- logging, discovering and storing video assets.

The Los Angeles-based sports programming division of FOX Corp. said its new system, already in development, will use Google Cloud’s video search and advanced machine learning (ML) technologies to help it better mine its sports content media archive that includes petabytes of data and millions of videos, and improve its production capabilities.

The partnership will allow FOX Sports to “take the next step toward the most state-of-the-art workflow for accessing all of our media,” according to Brad Zager, FOX Sports’ executive producer and head of production and operations.

Google Cloud and FOX Sports are using Google’s ML models to automatically identify and label clips in hundreds of categories that range from interviews, player jerseys and key plays to on-field celebrations. The new system will have a user-friendly interface that allows the FOX Sports production staff to more quickly find needed clips.

“It’s been amazing to see all the different tools that Google Cloud will provide our network to transform the way we work, while also helping to make the way we create content so much easier for our production teams,” Zager said in a statement.

The Procter & Gamble Co., a Cincinnati-based multinational consumer packaged goods (CPG) company, is using Google Cloud’s data analytics and artificial intelligence technology to leverage consumer and media data to improve and better personalize product and shopping experiences for its customers.

P&G, which uses a multi-cloud approach, is migrating its first- and third-party consumer data from an on-premise solution to GCP and integrating them into an enterprise data and analytics data lake architecture that will use BigQuery for real-time insights.

“By combining previously siloed data and using advanced analytics, Google Cloud will help create a 360-degree view of P&G’s business across all of its channels, ultimately helping the CPG leader create seamless experiences for consumers,” Google Cloud said in a statement.