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On the 24th of July, the biggest day on the Google calendar arrived, with the launch of the Google Cloud Next event. We've been on the edge of our seats from day one, watching the keynote speeches and making notes so that we can share the latest findings with you!
Over the two days of Cloud Next, we've seen numerous announcements covering updated technology, advanced tools, partnerships and more.
One particularly exciting piece of information to appear on the second day, was the revelation that Google is now ready to add "Drive" to their portfolio of services with more than 1 billion users.
Drive will be joining an elite list made up of Google Android, Maps, Chrome, the Play Store, Gmail, and YouTube. As well as celebrating the growth of Google Drive, and the GCP as a result, the search engine giants also revealed a selection of upcoming new features for Google Drive, including a "Priority" view that features user-curated workspaces, a feed, and a "suggested" information option.
Google also announced a feature they call "Workspaces" which users can access to create groups with access to specific files. Unlike a standard folder, any file you have access to can be added into a Workspace, and the systems are "location agnostic" too.
Here are just some of the other big announcements to emerge during the second day of Google Cloud Next.
Hold onto Your Inboxes: Gmail Gets an Update
One of the big announcements to hit Google Cloud Next this year involved an update to the popular Gmail system, which now has a new theme update for Android. Alongside the re-design, the Gmail app will also feature a selection of desktop capabilities, including quick attachments in Inbox view.
The Gmail app for Android will now feature a white theme and background for a cleaner customer experience, with no red accents. Additionally, there will be a full-width search bar in the navigation section so that you can find information with ease. Similar to Gmail's web design update, the Android version will also list files, images and other attachments, and there are density options to choose from that allow users to choose how much detail appears on their screen.
Google also announced recently that advanced search features would soon be available for Gmail on the web, along with a carousel that suggests attachment types, contacts and more.
New Titan Widgets for 2-Factor Authentication
The theme of security was strong during the first day of Google Cloud Next, and it remained that way during day two as well. As part of a quest to thwart the issues of malware and hackers, Google recently released a selection of Titan widgets for 2-factor authentication, ready to hit the shelves later in 2018. The widgets include key fobs equipped with USB ports and Bluetooth that should be familiar to anyone who signed up for the Google Advanced Protection program in the past.
The new keys are compliant with FIDO standards that other two-factor devices the market uses today. What's more, Google services are committing to checking the key firmware every time they're used to make sure that access is legitimate. Google is even using the technology themselves, with more than 85,000 staff using the two-factor gadgets to log into their work accounts. Google says that they haven't had a single intrusion in the last year thanks to the new security.
Overall, Google is hoping for a wider adoption of their fob-based two-factor authentication solutions than they've seen with their phone authentication. Only 10% of Gmail users have enabled multi-factor prevention more than 7 years after the security was added to Gmail. Google's offering includes the Bluetooth BLE capable key, which the brand hopes will offer a level of comfort and convenience to companies in search of additional protection.
Protecting the Google Cloud Platform
Of course, key fobs and two-factor authentication updates aren't the only security updates that Google has introduced to make their user experience more secure. The digital innovators also promise a host of additional cloud security features set to arrive soon. For instance, select users in Google's Cloud IAP, Cloud IAM, and Cloud Identity services can already try out a beta of contextually-aware security services.
These context-focused security applications allow administrators to lock accounts if it looks like someone's trying to break into a profile. Google is also delivering geo-location blocking beta services within the Cloud Armor Suite, designed to prevent criminals from overseas from logging into accounts.
G-Suite users will also now have access to a G Suite security center investigation tool; According to the team, the service will spin up cloud-based hardware security models that allow customers to host encryption keys in their services. From a container front, users will also be able to sign up for a beta version of the Google Binary authorization system, which comes with a demand for valid digital signatures on containers before they're powered up.
Shields Up with Google's Shielded Virtual Machines
Another security-focused update during the second day of Google Cloud Next came with the introduction of "shielded virtual machines." According to the search giant, Shielded VMs leverage enhanced security on the Google platform to help ensure that VMs aren't accessed or tampered with without permission. Through shielded VMs, users will be able to track and react to changes in the VM baseline, as well as current runtime states.
The advanced VM services run on the Google Cloud Platform and come pre-packed with a selection of partner security controls intended to defend against things like bootkits and rootkits. There are plenty of things that can happen before an application launches in a VM, and every step in the process is vulnerable to a potential attack. That's because, while your machine is starting up - before you get to your security application the Google system launches the firmware, the kernel, the boot sequence and the operating system all before the security application launches.
The shield VMs are designed to strip away as many unsecured aspects in the setup process as possible, to reduce the risk that today's businesses may face. Shielded VMs are already available now in Beta mode.
On the Edge of IoT at Google Cloud Next
According to the Vice President for IoT at Google Cloud, Injong Rhee, the data generated by the Internet of Things is set to exceed a level of 40 trillion Gigabytes by the end of 2025. To better handle those huge quantities of data, Google introducing a brand-new hardware chip in the form of the Edge TPU and Cloud IoT Edge. This software stack will extend the AI capabilities of the GCP to connected devices, leading to faster real-time predictions and load processing, as well as reduced security risk.
The new ASIC is a cutdown of the Google Tensor Processing Unit or TPU family of in-house coprocessors. TPUs are a crucial part of the internal system at Google, used to power machine-learning based services. These new chips are designed specifically for training neural networks. The latest Edge chip is a cutdown version of the TPU designed specifically for the IoT. The idea is that you have a selection of devise and sensors in your home or business connected to a single gateway, which then connects back to the Google cloud.
The gateway between the IoT devices and the Cloud contains the Edge TPU, as well as a graphics processor and an application processor running Android, or Linux. The Google Cloud IoT Edge software stack contains lightweight Tensorflow libraries and model that help the Edge TPU to perform AI actions at lightning speed.
Helping Non-Profit Entities Access More Data
Finally, Google was also careful to remind attendees at the Cloud Next Event that they're not just interested in helping big businesses grow. There's a Google Cloud strategy for any company, of any shape, size or background. In fact, on the 25th, Google Cloud's Vice President for Product Marketing, Carol Carpenter, announced a new service called "Data Solutions for Change."
This new data service should help organizations across the globe to make better decisions with their data. Non-profits will be able to access the new program to learn how they can use their analytics in accessible and intelligent ways. Credit grants, self-training sessions, and role-based support strategies are all on offer. Already, the Foundation for Precision Medicine is already tapping into Google technology to attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer's.
With the support of Google's cloud technology, the non-profit organization can leverage anonymized data to speed up the progress in their research.
Finishing Thoughts on Google Cloud Next
The reveals at Google Cloud Next have been fantastic - and we want to thank anyone and everyone that came along to experience it with us.
Interestingly, one thing we noted at this year's event is that the focus wasn't entirely on the cloud - something that you might not expect from a cloud-central conference. While we did see a lot of updates to the GCP and G-Suite, we also saw plenty of growth from an on-premise perspective too, including the addition of a Google Kubernetes Engine intended to manage on-premise container deployments.
Google is evidence that the move to the cloud can happen on your terms, with multi-cloud, hybrid solutions, or anything else that suits your business.
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