Author Archives: Christine Cignoli

Cloud Covered: What was new with Google Cloud in February

In Google Cloud last month, we felt the love with new cloud classes, an addition to our cloud family, and a brand-new cloud region. Read on for those and other top stories from February.

Meet us in the cloud.

We are transforming our annual gathering of cloud professionals to Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect, a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event connecting our attendees to Next ’20 content and each other through streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital “ask an expert” sessions with Google teams. Stay tuned to the Next ‘20 site for more details on sessions and registration info.

A new cloud data center opens in Utah.

We announced the opening of a Google Cloud Platform region in Salt Lake City last month, making it our third western U.S. region, sixth nationally, and 22nd globally. Though cloud may seem like an ephemeral concept, it’s actually made up of many physical computers, stacked together and run very efficiently in these large data centers, called regions. For a company based in Utah, this new region can speed up access to their data and services run with Google Cloud.

Cloud school is in session.

We added more content to our online set of courses for people looking for deeper training and skills in an evolving discipline of cloud computing. The Data Engineering on Google Cloud learning path is newly updated, and includes introductions to relevant Google Cloud products, plus hands-on labs for experimenting. The courses all combine to cover the primary responsibilities of a data engineer.

Work smarter and more efficiently.

Check out these essential tips from our G Suite team on combating the information overload many of us experience at work every day. Those emails and chat messages will keep coming, but you can find some ways to use your time wisely and get more done. For example, you can try the snooze and mute features in Gmail or Hangouts Chat to avoid interruptions when you want to focus on finishing a task or meeting a deadline.

Computers of the past join the present.

The computers of olden days, called mainframes, were the huge systems that powered the first businesses using technology. Plenty of mainframe systems are still running these days, but they can hold developers back from using new technologies. Google Cloud acquired Cornerstone Technology last month to better help customers migrate the software that’s running on mainframes. Cornerstone’s experience and capabilities can make the mainframe-to-Google Cloud move easier.

That’s a wrap for February. Keep up to date on our blog anytime.

Exploring personal histories for Black History Month on Google Cloud

During Black History month, we honor those who have come before us, the legends who inspire us, and especially the people in our midst every day. 

We sat down with a few Cloud Googlers who help bring our cloud technology to more people and businesses to tackle issues ranging from helping promote sustainable fishing globally to quantifying the impact of projects to make clean water more available around the world. We discussed their personal histories, the people and moments that inspire them, and how identity shapes their work--and heard anecdotes about working in Congress, traveling the world, and more.  

Here, they share the path they took to Cloud and some of the things they’ve learned along the way.

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Michee Smith, Product Manager
Being yourself always pays off.

As a product manager within Google Cloud, Michee Smith is responsible for making sure products work as expected for people. Michee’s area of focus is customer privacy. She’s passionate about making customers comfortable with keeping their data in our cloud. For her, it’s important to make privacy products easy to use, and that customers know what to expect around data access.

Michee’s path to technology started at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she knew she’d be around people who were different from her. That helped build an understanding and empathy for different cultures and groups of people that still inform her work today. “I’ve always had a belief in myself, which I credit in part to being raised in the Black church, a supportive and encouraging environment,” she says.

Her advice for those entering tech fields? Don’t counsel yourself out of doing anything. Other people might tell you “no,” but don’t let yourself be the one to say it.

“I want people to know I’m not a unicorn—I’m not here because I’m necessarily special, but because I haven’t let rejection stop me,” Michee says. “The superpower I rely on is that I won’t let other people tell me I’m not good enough.”

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Hamidou Dia, VP, Solutions Engineering
Education is a lifelong pursuit.

From his Senegalese childhood to his European education to his work running the global solutions engineering organization at Google Cloud, Hamidou Dia has always had a passion for education. At Google, he leads a team focused on helping customers around the world and across industries solve their most complex business problems using Google Cloud technology. 

Hamidou’s passion for education was instilled by his mother who knew that education would open doors for him. After being selected to attend one of only five high schools in Senegal, he then attended college in France on academic scholarship. It was there he first interacted with a PC, wrote his first program and got hooked on technology, deciding to study engineering and then earning a master’s degree in computer science. Says Hamidou, “I love technology and how it can be so helpful in everyday life, and I knew right away it was the field for me.” 

Having lived in the U.S. for over 20 years and raising his family here, Hamidou has always advised his kids to embrace their heritage and stay true to themselves. “Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do,” he says. “Carve your own path.” 

What advice does he give to those new to the workforce? Be passionate about continuous learning and growth, no matter where you are in your career. “I always refer back to the principles I was raised with in West Africa. Number one is character. It’s having integrity in everything you do,” he says. “Second is that it’s all about hard work. In the technology industry, finding your area of expertise, and always continuing to learn more, is how you can stay on top of your game. And finally, don’t be afraid. The greatest challenges are often where the greatest opportunities lie.”

Albert Sanders, Senior Counsel, Government Affairs & Public Policy 
People, policy and technology make a big impact.

Albert Sanders has worked in the White House, negotiated bipartisan deals in Congress, and recently addressed the United Nations General Assembly. His personal and professional travels have taken him to five continents—and he’s visited 11 (and counting!) countries in Africa. At Google Cloud, his team works with governments across the globe to pave the way for new Google Cloud data centers that help expand access to technology and enable more people to benefit from cloud computing.

Choosing a career in public policy stemmed from an early interest in government, and his experience in an overcrowded high school, where there were often not enough seats or textbooks to go around. “I learned early on that the decisions made in city halls, capitol buildings, and government agencies have a direct impact—sometimes positive, sometimes negative—on real people,” he says. That path started with law school, and led to work on Capitol Hill and then in the Obama White House.

Connecting to his history started with Albert’s first trip to South Africa several years ago. “Traveling through Africa is intensely personal,” he says. “Many Americans may take for granted that they can trace their family origins to places outside the United States. One of the many enduring legacies of slavery is that most African Americans don’t have that direct connection to their family history. I may not know the names of my ancestors or the place of their birth, but I’m reminded regularly that they passed on to us a resilience, faith, and determination that could not be shackled.”

Along the way, Albert has gained some advice that he passes on to mentees and others: “Embrace the uncomfortable and unprecedented. And don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself,” he says. And finally: “Representation matters. One of the reasons I do my best every day is because I’m aware that I must excel for myself—and for other people of color who are still terribly underrepresented in our industry. I appreciate Google’s various initiatives to address this issue. I’m committed to doing my part to support those efforts, ensure accountability, and show what’s possible when diverse perspectives and people have a seat at the table.”

We’re grateful to these Cloud Googlers for sharing their stories, and we look forward to lots more history being made in and through technology.

Cloud Covered: What was new with Google Cloud in January

At Google Cloud, we kept the chill away in January with a flurry of news and tips. Warm up to the latest in storage, security and more with our top news from the month. 

You’re cordially invited to our big cloud event.

We announced Google Cloud Next ‘20, our annual event that brings together thousands of people in the cloud community to network and learn about the latest in cloud technology. Registration is open now for the show, April 6-8 in San Francisco, where you’ll hear from expert speakers and customers and choose from more than 500 sessions.

Brr, it’s cold in that data center.

If you have old photos and documents that you never look at, but just can’t throw away, you’ll appreciate this update. Cloud Storage now has an Archive class, our “coldest” storage option for data that won’t be needed for months or years at a time. Businesses can store large amounts of data that isn’t accessed often in this class of storage. It’s quick to access, though, if and when it’s needed.

G Suite is helping Code to Inspire bring dev skills to Afghan girls.

Last month we heard from Fereshteh Forough, the founder and CEO of Code to Inspire, who started the coding school to help close the education gap for girls in Afghanistan. It’s the first coding school for girls in Afghanistan between the ages of 15 and 25 to take classes after school in gaming, web development, mobile apps and more. Forough started the school from scratch on her laptop and uses G Suite tools, including Hangouts Meet, Docs, Slides, and Sheets, to communicate and collaborate between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

Wrangling sensitive data with a dedicated tool.

Keeping track of sensitive information is no easy task. If you imagine that on the scale of an enterprise company, with hundreds or thousands of employees, you can get an idea of the complexity that security professionals encounter. Google’s new Secret Manager service lets you easily, securely store API keys, passwords, certificates, and other sensitive information in a centrally managed location. It works across Google Cloud, for any customer, and allows you to adopt security best practices like the principle of least privilege. 

Retailers are going digital, fast.

The National Retail Federation held its annual conference last month, and several key Google Cloud customers and partners were in attendance. In retail, digital transformation isn’t just a requirement; it’s a race. To help retailers win, we announced an expanded Retail Acceleration Program (RAP), a set of services to help retailers optimize their websites; Google Cloud Search for Retail; Anthos for Retail, and many other solutions.

Till next month, keep up to date on the Google Cloud blog.

Cloud Covered: 2019 in Google Cloud

As we get ready to ring in 2020 here at Google Cloud, we’re taking a look back on stories that captured the imagination, provoked new ideas, and helped us be more efficient at work. Check out our top-read posts from 2019. 

Build the cloud that's right for your business
Just like you choose the right mix of apps you want on your phone, businesses that are using cloud computing choose the apps and services that will work for them. There are a lot of options available on Google Cloud, and some of the popular posts of the past year were about new technology that came out, as well as some new concepts to understand.

Lots of businesses learned how to organize their data better. 
Different types of data, like the price of a product or how many are sold, can be used to help a business understand their customers and make future planning decisions. Many of our blog posts this year explained different ways to process and manage that data.  

Technology keeps making work easier.
The technology we use at work has come a long way in a pretty short time—it wasn’t too long ago that a video conference would have seemed like science fiction. Collaboration and productivity tools keep getting better, and in 2019, popular posts explained new ways to be efficient, and new ways to use multiple apps together. 

Cloud inspiration is all around.
Cloud computing is constantly evolving to be even faster and work better for users. Lots of the highlights of 2019 were stories from customers about how they’re using Google Cloud to power their great work—and from one of our own Googlers on her record-breaking computing accomplishment.

Keep up on everything that’s new with Google Cloud on our blog.

Cloud Covered: What was new in November on Google Cloud

November was a cornucopia of Google Cloud news and tips, with new ways for companies to start using the cloud and improve the way they work. We’re thankful this season for all the ways cloud can make everyday work easier, and for all the cool technology that just keeps evolving.  

Take this easy path to cloud.

In November, we announced the acquisition of CloudSimple, a company that provides a secure, dedicated environment to run VMware workloads in the cloud. VMware is the company that invented virtualization, a way to use physical computer servers much more efficiently (find a full explanation here). This acquisition will make it easier for businesses running all kinds of applications on VMware, like their finance or HR software, to easily migrate those workloads to Google Cloud.

Try a do-it-yourself cloud kit.

OK, so it’s a bit more complicated than putting together something from IKEA. But our Bare Metal Solution became available at the Next UK conference. When businesses are starting to run applications based in the cloud, there can be some stragglers that are harder to move than others. That may be because of their underlying code, or the fact that they were built before cloud existed. This Bare Metal Solution brings all the tools and network connections that a business needs to start using native Google Cloud services.

We get by with a little help from our … work tools.

At the same conference, we announced new, AI-powered features to help you get through your work day more efficiently. First, fresh updates to Google Docs help you produce error-free work. And second, we announced expanded integrations between the Google Assistant and G Suite. These new features continue G Suite’s mission to help businesses become more productive and to streamline work. Check out details in this post.

Thanks for calling. How can cloud help you?

Our Contact Center AI platform became generally available last month, so companies can personalize their customer support. This is the kind of technology that powers the good experiences you have when you call customer support and are directed through options using your voice. Two features of Contact Center AI, Virtual Agent and Agent Assist (which is now generally available), both improve the customer experience while adding efficiency for the business. Virtual Agent helps provide 24/7 access to immediate, conversational self-service, while Agent Assist helps customer service agents through their work with continuous support in real time.

A networking control center helps IT take charge.

The newly introduced Network Intelligence Center can help those IT teams in charge of a company’s network (yes, that’s a very important job!) monitor across the cloud and in the company’s data centers. Networks involve a lot of moving pieces, and they all have to work together to make sure everything runs smoothly, from delivering emails immediately for employees to providing fast, uninterrupted experiences for customers. The Network Intelligence Center anticipates some of the common challenges that IT teams deal with and helps them do testing and see performance easily.

That’s a wrap for November! Till next time, stay tuned to the cloud blog.

Cloud Covered: What was new with Google Cloud in October

As fall arrived, we fell hard for news about machine learning, new trainings for those working on cloud technology, and some tips about secure passwords. Bundle up and read on for what was hot in cloud last month.

We celebrated National Cyber Security Awareness Month. 
Cyber attacks constantly evolve, and we build automatic protections into our products to keep people safe. That’s part of the puzzle, with another big piece being what you can do to keep your accounts protected. We introduced some best practices for password management, 2019 edition, to offer tips on developing good habits around passwords. Plus, we explored some best practices around two-factor authentication (2FA) when using Google Cloud. And finally, we made the new USB-C Titan Security Keys available for everyone in the U.S.

Students of cloud can explore new cloud 101 trainings.
New trainings came out in October, designed to tackle a few of the big questions that come up when businesses are first moving their applications and data into cloud services. One big decision is whether to use Google Compute Engine or Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). Compute Engine is more similar to how businesses have been operating their technology systems, while GKE is a newer type of technology. The trainings can help explain the hows and whys of using and setting up each of the options.

We explored tech accessibility for Disability Awareness Month.
Accessibility isn’t just about physical spaces—it also matters that apps, online content and digital tools are inclusive of all users. So during Disability Awareness Month, we explored some of the Chromebook’s accessibility features, like the Select-to-speak text reader, the ChromeVox built-in screen reader, dictation tools and more. G Suite also comes with built-in accessibility features that make it easy to add closed captioning to your presentations, use voice typing tools and more.

We heard a story about jobs and tech changing together.
Changes at work can be hard, but can also result in great things. Lots of our engineering teams follow a model, developed here, called Site Reliability Engineering (SRE). It’s a methodology that helps teams build services that are reliable for users and that take the human element of technology into account—so IT teams on call can work harmoniously without getting burned out. This story describes how the Google team in charge of the network moved to this model. It involved changing the roles of team members so they can now do fewer repetitive tasks and more of the work to solve bigger problems.

Machine learning gets better at seeing moving images.
At Google Cloud, customers use our AI Building Blocksto get started easily with machine learning without requiring AI expertise. Recent updates to our vision products offer even more ways get insights from images and video. Customers use AutoML Vision to create models that are specific to their domain, so that they can get important information from images. AutoML Vision Edge, which runs ML models for devices like sensors, now detects objects in addition to classifying images. Plus, a new feature in AutoML Video means models can be trained to track objects in videos—useful for things like traffic management or sports analytics. In addition, a new feature in the Video Intelligence API can detect, track and recognize logos of popular businesses and organizations.  

APIs took center stage.
APIs are interfaces that enable different software programs to communicate with one another—think of how you can sign in to one app on your phone with the login credentials from another. As you might imagine, these APIs are pretty important in our interconnected world, and there are quite a lot of them out there. API management, then, is its own important area of using modern technology—it’s how organizations secure, analyze, and expose APIs in ways that make it easy for developers to build on them. Google Cloud’s API management platform, Apigee, was once again recognized a leader in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Full Lifecycle API Management. This report is often used by our customers as a reliable evaluation tool. 

That’s a wrap for October. Keep up on cloud on our blog, and we’ll see you next month.

Cloud Covered: What was new with Google Cloud in September

September will always be back-to-school season, even for those of us who have been in the working world for awhile. At Google Cloud, we sharpened our pencils and embraced the spirit of learning new things last month with stories from customers, technology improvements, and a how-to for cloud developers. 

Mayo Clinic uses cloud to improve health.
Mayo Clinic is building its data platform on Google Cloud, which means that it’s centralizing its data into our cloud to access it and analyze it as needed. They’re also using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve patient and community health, since it can find interesting and actionable information out of all that data much faster and more easily than humans could. Mayo Clinic also plans to create machine learning models that they can share with caregivers to help treat and solve serious and complex ideas.

The small but mighty Pixelbook can do software development.
In the spirit of learning new things, we published some tips on using a Pixelbook for software development, including how to set up a workflow on a Pixelbook that can meet many modern developer needs.

Good marketing needs cloud power, too.
We also heard from advertising holding company WPP last month. They shared their Google Cloud adoption story with details on how cloud helps them provide everything that’s needed to run a modern marketing campaign. That includes work with media, creative, public relations and marketing analytics to help their many Fortune 500 customers. To help all these users, they have to be able to use all the data they collect and make sure there’s not overlapping data stored in different places.

Graphics apps and remote desktops need special capabilities to run well.
We announced the general availability of virtual display devices for Compute Engine VMs. Each VM is essentially its own computer, and these new virtual display devices can be attached to any VM that’s hosted and run with Google Cloud. The devices give video graphics capabilities to VMs at a cheaper price than the more expensive GPUs that are available, and they can help when running applications that have graphics requirements such as remote desktops.

Redesigned Admin console gets faster, more searchable for Chrome Enterprise.
It’s entirely possible that you’re reading this on Chrome Browser, which is Google’s own web browser. What you may not know is that on the back end, there are people who make sure that your browser and other systems are running smoothly at work: IT admins. To help simplify work flows for Chrome Enterprise IT admins, we redesigned a key tool that admins use to maintain their device fleet, browsers, apps, security policies, and more—the Google Admin console for Chrome Enterprise. Read more about these new features in the Admin console for Chrome Enterprise

That’s a wrap for September. Stay up to date with Google Cloud on Twitter.