4 key announcements from day one of Google Cloud Next ’20

15 Jul 2020

Image: © Sundry Photography/Stock.adobe.com

Google Cloud has announced the launch of BigQuery Omni, as well as the company’s first confidential computing product.

Google Cloud Next ’20 was one of many tech events disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic this year. Originally planned for April, the event was moved online and then postponed indefinitely as a result of San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order.

In the end, Google decided to run the annual conference as a nine-week digital event series, launching on Tuesday (14 July). Until 8 September, the company will publish weekly content, including keynotes from industry leaders and one-on-one sessions with Google Cloud experts.

During the first event this week, Google Cloud made a number of interesting announcements, including the private alpha launch of BigQuery Omni and the launch of company’s first confidential computing product, Confidential VMs.

Google Cloud also launched Assured Workloads for Government to help US government agencies; and C2C, a new community where users can connect and share knowledge.

BigQuery Omni

Google Cloud general manager and vice-president of engineering and data analytics, Debanjan Saha, announced that the company is introducing BigQuery Omni to Google Cloud.

This will provide a multi-cloud analytics solution that enables users to access and analyse data across Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and, in the near future, Azure; all without leaving the BigQuery user interface.

Using standard SQL and existing BigQuery APIs, users will be able to break down data silos and gain new business insights from the Anthos-powered tool. The tech giant highlighted research from Gartner, which found that 80pc of respondents using the public cloud were using more than one cloud service provider.

Saha went into more detail about the integration of BigQuery Omni here.

Confidential VMs

Google also announced a new type of virtual machine (VM) that ensures data isn’t just encrypted at rest, but also while it is in memory. Confidential VMs, which is currently in beta, is the first product in Google Cloud’s new Confidential Computing portfolio.

“We already employ a variety of isolation and sandboxing techniques as part of our cloud infrastructure to help make our multi-tenant architecture secure,” the company said. “Confidential VMs take this to the next level by offering memory encryption so that you can further isolate your workloads in the cloud. Confidential VMs can help all our customers protect sensitive data, but we think it will be especially interesting to those in regulated industries.”

According to Google, Confidential Computing builds on the protections that shielded VMs offer against rootkits and bootkits, helping to ensure the integrity of the operating system that users choose to run on their Confidential VM.

In a blogpost, Google Cloud revealed the underpinnings of Confidential VMs, running on N2D VMs powered by second-generation AMD Epyc processors. Confidential VMs can offer high performance for demanding computational tasks, while keeping VM memory encrypted with a dedicated per-VM instance key that is generated and managed by the AMD processor.

Google said that with this new technology, organisations will be able to collaborate with each other without compromising the confidentiality of datasets, resulting in collaboration that can lead to the development of “more transformational technologies and ideas”.

Assured Workloads for Government

It also announced the beta launch of a government cloud system, entitled Assured Workloads for Government, which aims to help government agencies and contractors to ensure that all data stays within the correct region.

By using the new government-focused product, agencies can limit access to Google Cloud support personnel, based on their citizenship, background check and geography.

Later this year, the company will enable a new support option that will ensure users of this product will get access from a US-based person in a US location with a target response time of 15 minutes at any time of day.

The system has been designed to meet the standards of the US Department of Defense, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, while providing users with access to its full portfolio of services.

Competing cloud businesses have their own solutions for government agencies, such as Microsoft’s Azure Government and AWS platform GovCloud.

Launching the C2C community

Kelly Ducourty, managing director of Google Cloud GTM strategy and operations, announced that the company has built a platform to facilitate knowledge sharing between customers. Entitled Customer to Community (or C2C), the platform aims to bring together IT executives, developers and other cloud professionals to help users connect and learn from one another.

The company has promised “exclusive networking opportunities” for users who join C2C, along with expanded access to knowledge forums, white papers and methodologies, and early access to Google Cloud product roadmaps.

The offering will first be available to users in North America and EMEA, though Google said it plans to grow the community beyond those regions “in the coming weeks and months”.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic