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Google Cloud Next Conference Goes Virtual Over Coronavirus Fears

Google Cloud customers and partners will meet online instead of in San Francisco. The event has been rebranded Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect.

Google Cloud’s upcoming Next conference is being changed to a virtual format to limit travel amid the global outbreak of coronavirus, the company told attendees Monday.

In an email sent to attendees who planned to meet in San Francisco from April 6 to 8, Google said it is “transforming the event” under the new branding: Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect.

Due to growing concern around the spread of the deadly disease, officially called COVID-19, Google will “reimagine” the Next conference, its premier cloud event, as an online forum. That shift aligns with the best practices established by the Centers for Disease Control and (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

[Related: 5 Ways Coronavirus Continues To Impact The IT Industry]

Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect will be free to all online participants, who can watch keynotes and take part in breakout sessions and interactive learning opportunities over the Internet.

“Innovation is in Google’s DNA and we are leveraging this strength to bring you an immersive and inspiring event this year without the risk of travel,” Google told registered attendees.

Those who have already purchased conference tickets will be refunded, Google said.

The decision comes days after Google confirmed one of its employees in Zurich, Switzerland contracted the deadly disease first reported more than two months ago in Wuhan, China. That employee was in the Zurich office for a “limited time” before exhibiting symptoms, Google said.

The Zurich office and all other Google offices remain open as the company continues to evaluate the situation as it evolves, Google said.

The main way COVID-19 spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by coughing, according to WHO.

Last week, HP said it would postpone its Reinvent Partner conference that was initially set to take place near the end of March in Anaheim, Calif.

Also on Monday, Adobe changed its Adobe Summit 2020, which was set to kick off at the end of March in Las Vegas, into an online event.

“While we are disappointed that we will not be together in-person with our community this year, we are excited to host Adobe Summit as an online experience,” the company said.

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