Diane Green, SVP of Google Cloud, said Google is uniquely positioned in the market.
Diane Green, SVP of Google Cloud, said Google is uniquely positioned in the market. PHOTO: Derek Walter

SAN FRANCISCO - Google paraded executives from Disney, Verizon,The Home Depot and others out today to boast about the infrastructure and enterprise readiness of its cloud services.

The kickoff to Google Cloud Next showcased companies that are using Google’s capabilities for artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and offsite data storage. The main message was that Google is enterprise savvy and can deliver superior results to competitors thanks to its heavy investment in smarter computing.

Google describes the conference as "an immersive event that brings together executives, customers, partners, developers, IT decision makers and Google engineers to build the future of the cloud." Running through Friday at Moscone Center West here, opening day also featured news about a new partnership with SAP and the acquisition of Kaggle.

Google: 'Uniquely Positioned'

Diane Green, SVP of Google Cloud, said Google was uniquely positioned to partner with companies that want the computers to find the insights that humans can’t find on their own.

“We have the world's best data analytics, best machine learning and a great workplace culture,” she said. “It’s about real time collaboration, finding ways to get the bureaucracy out of a company because everybody has to move fast now,” she said.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a brief cameo to frame the importance of cloud computing. It’s not merely about offsite storage that will reduce the infrastructure needs of a business, he said. Rather, it is a way to tap into Google’s machine learning and analytical abilities for to get better insights about a company’s data.

“[Google Cloud] is a natural extension of our mission to make information accessible and useful,” he said. “Now we're doing the same thing for businesses. G Suite features enhanced information sharing and collaboration features. Machine learning finds new information that helps a business improve their products and better serve their customers. So I'm really excited by the progress here and I can't wait to see what you build next.”

Smarter Data

The real star of the show was Google’s artificial intelligence capabilities, many of which are readily available instead of solely being a far-off science fiction concept.

Fei-Fei Lee, the chief scientist for Google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning efforts, offered numerous examples of how these technologies are leveraged by multiple companies. For example, Disney’s chair of consumer products and interactive media James Pitaro said the vast library of characters, content, and processing requires a major cloud provider in order to keep the company “telling its stories.”

Lee referred to video as the “dark matter of the digital universe.” She unveiled Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence API as a way for media companies to better parse their content. During an on-screen demo, the platform was able to find and recognize animals, objects, and other items from scenes that could reduce the amount of time companies tabulate such details inside of their videos.

“I’ve witness my field grow from a lofty but academic pursuit to the biggest driver of this type of change,” Lee said. “But change happens at many scales, and it takes imagination to see them all.”

News About SAP, Kaggle, Rackspace

Day one also featured some strategic announcements, including word that Germany’s SAP will now allow customers to run the company’s business applications on Google’s cloud while offering G Suite tools.

Google also confirmed it acquired data science community Kaggle. And Rackspace’s Managed Hosting Platform now supports Google Cloud. Until now, the company only supported clients who wanted to use Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or OpenStack cloud.

Google confirmed the acquisition of Kaggle.
Google confirmed the acquisition of Kaggle.PHOTO: Derek Walter

Google Wooing Customers

The main theme, according to analyst Meaghan McGrath of Technology Business Research, is that Google is ready for the challenges and scale of enterprise. Additionally, Google is trying to win over companies who may be skeptical about the real-world applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“When you think of a large enterprise like Target, it could find an AI application in the retail space, but the idea of democratizing AI [Lee] was trying to push home is a message about making AI affordable and accessible to those smaller businesses. They don’t have the huge innovation hubs to create an AI solution from scratch, but Google gets them partway there. It gives them a starting point. They can take that AI tech and apply it directly to their business.”

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, cited the success of Pokémon Go, which used Google Cloud to handle the explosion the game experienced when it debuted. Most of his pitch was that small and medium business can benefit from Google’s cloud services, enhancing their output.

“There’s no time to waste. Get to the cloud now,” he said.