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Google Cloud Next 2021: what happened, and what it means for telcos

At the annual Google Cloud Next earlier this month, Google unveiled a number of solutions and features to make it easier and faster for customers – telcos included – to move to the public cloud.

In the run-up to the event I shared my not-to-be-missed telco playlist, and now I’m wrapping up with the top three announcements unveiled by the guys at Google. Keep an eye out for my before and after analyses of Ignite and re:Invent, both of which will be held in November, coming soon to an inbox near you!

Google Cloud Next 2021

Announcement #1: Google Distributed Cloud

What: Google announced that it is offering both hardware and software in a fully managed service that extends from the customer data center to the edge, a la AWS Outposts and Microsoft’s Azure Edge Zones. The new service will allow users to manage and modify applications at the edge, on-premise and in multiple clouds, and at massive scale, and Google will manage the hardware.

What does it mean for telco? The release of Google Distributed Cloud is supporting a growing need for applications and services to move closer to the end user. Or maybe it’s GCP caving to the telcos that want to do private cloud. In either case, it’s a win for telco. For the forward thinkers, it will allow telcos to deliver new 5G and edge use cases. For the nervous nellies, it’ll give users more control over how and where they want to manage data and workloads. By hosting data at the network edge, businesses can be secure in the knowledge that the hyperscalers are managing their data locally and meeting regional requirements for security, privacy, and digital sovereignty, if required.

Following on that point, a couple of Google’s recent partnership announcements show that it is taking sovereignty seriously:  it is working with Thales in France to develop a sovereign cloud that meets the French “Trusted Cloud” requirements and enables French customers to keep their data confidential, secure and fully sovereign. In Germany, it’s working with T-Systems to build and deliver sovereign cloud services for German enterprises, as well as public sector and healthcare organizations. While this is attractive in theory, it’s quite a different thing when customers realize it comes at a higher price than if they were to use the “regular” public cloud GCP offers. I guess we will wait and see.

What are the other hyperscalers doing? As mentioned previously, Microsoft’s Azure Edge Zones and AWS’s Outposts have been around for a while, and the Google Distributed Cloud announcement is basically Google throwing in the towel and caving to match the other two. At GCN 2019, Google announced Anthos, which was the ability to access GCP software in your own private data center. Problem was, it didn’t supply the hardware – you did. With this announcement, Google finally does both, too.

Announcement #2: Making data analytics easier and faster

What: A bunch of announcements that will improve the data analytics capabilities that Google Cloud can offer customers, including Vertex AI Workbench, the general availability of BigQuery Omni, Spark on Google Cloud, and a new PostgreSQL interface for Cloud Spanner.

Additionally, to help organizations make better decisions with real-time data, Google Cloud announced partnerships with Collibra, Databricks, Fivetran, Informatica, Tableau, and Trifacta.

What does it mean for telco? Telcos create petabytes of data, yet many are failing to really capitalize on this treasure trove of information. With most of the data residing on premise, it’s difficult to keep up with the capacity and compute requirements to really use it. The public cloud is a PERFECT place to centralize your analytical operations and use the scalability, compute power, and tools to get the insights you need to make better business decisions. Google’s announcement supports this shift, helping CSPs get the maximum value from data. Plus, data scientists can deploy and manage models more easily, and write and scale new applications, meaning faster time to market and ROI.

What are the other hyperscalers doing? Analytics is what Google is known for and what it does best. And it’s delivering for telcos: take Vodafone, which saved nearly 70% by moving its analytics to Google Cloud. While both Microsoft Azure and AWS will include news on their analytics offerings at their upcoming events, as the hyperscaler market continues to dominate data, this is the area where Google shines, getting recognition from Forrester for being a leader in streaming analytics and from Gartner for its operational databases platform.

Announcement #3: Enabling migration to the public cloud

What: Every year Google trots out new partnerships signed since the last Google Cloud Next, and this year was no different. Google used GCN to talk about a ton of partnerships and customer case studies across a whole range of sectors. These success stories illustrate just how easy it is to move to the public cloud and to grow, scale, and innovate with speed. The idea is to make you feel some FOMO: everyone else is doing it, and you should, too!

On the telco customer side, Google highlighted Vodafone building a data platform and Reliance Jio’s cloud-based, fully automated lifecycle management of its 5G network and services. It  also noted how it has teamed with AT&T, T-Systems, Nokia, and Ericsson, to deliver 5G and edge computing solutions.

What does it mean for telco? The hardest part about using the public cloud is starting to use the public cloud. Telcos don’t have the talent or knowledge in-house, and so taking the first step to move a workload is the biggest barrier. All three hyperscalers are working to reduce the friction around moving to the public cloud, so expect to see more training, services, and offerings that make it easier and easier to move. As Google continues to add more and more partners, it is presenting itself as a one-stop-shop for migrating to the public cloud and positioning itself as the hyperscaler of choice for telcos.

What are the other hyperscalers doing? The same! The fight is on for telco. Everyone is going to be throwing all they’ve got at telcos to get them to use their cloud. I expect pricing to be competitive, and the opportunity to negotiate will work in telco’s favor. Use the cloud war to your advantage to get the help you need to start your move to the public cloud … and just do it!

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