At GCP:NEXT 2016 in San Francisco, Google demonstrated a surprisingly broad portfolio of analytics tools. No one doubts they have extensive experience in this area; in fact many believe the company to be way, way ahead of the average business. By the nature of what Google (and Alphabet) do, depth in big data, analytics, and machine learning is absolutely a core competancy. Many Google projects have gone on to form the basis of open-source software that is fundamental to the big data industry today.
So why was it surprising? Mostly because the company has shifted approach from "we found this useful, it's here if you like it" to a much more aggressive "you really shouldn't worry about building, administering, and operating infrastructure, just run everything in our cloud." Further, said infrastructure goes beyond storage and compute resources to now include functionality such as:
- DataProc for a fully managed Hadoop and/or Spark cluster, where you pay by the minute.
- DataFlow to build a data pipeline to perform both streaming and batch analytics as needed.
- TensorFlow for machine learning, including pre-trained models and ready-to-use APIs.
- BigTable to organize your data in an infinitely scalable database.
- BigQuery for an MPP cloud-based, SQL and data warehouse capabilities.
- Pub/Sub to share data streams, especially in IoT.
- Weave and Brillo, also primarily for IoT environments.
New beta and alpha offerings are also extending machine learning further, including VisionML to recognize images and a similar approach to speech. Text and translation is already well-proven and GA. All of this adds up to a very attractive development platform for anyone building big data and analytics applications, underpinned by container and/or virtual machine based resources on demand.
Google's platform might not be as well-penetrated in enterprise accounts, trailing Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, but they may have a technical edge that makes up ground (and market share!) very quickly. Indeed, big brand names like Disney, Coca Cola, and Spotify were proud to share how the Google Cloud Platform was helping them to do more, and at a very competitive price. I, for one, am happy to see the company shift gears and expose its capabilities to more businesses.