Didn’t see that coming, did you? Honestly, me neither. My past four years at Pivotal/VMware were life-altering, and I’m so proud of what we accomplished, and I’m amazed by the talent of the folks there. I wasn’t looking to leave, and you might have guessed ten other possible destinations. When the Google folks reached out about an intriguing leadership opportunity, I listened. And here we are. I couldn’t be more excited about it!
What will I be doing? Google Cloud is introducing an Outbound Product Management function, and I’ll build and lead the team for the Application Modernization product area. Wait, what’s outbound product management? This team acts as the voice of the product to the market, and the voice of the market back to the product. We’ll own the customer-facing roadmap, assist with go-to-market messaging and strategy, create impactful demonstrations, analyze the competitive landscape, build deep relationships with customers and analysts, and help people get the most out of the technology. These are all the things I love doing, and with a focus area that represents the present (Hybrid) and future (Edge) of cloud computing.
Why did I say “yes” to the job and why should you say “yes” as a customer? A few things stood out to me as I assessed Google’s opportunity in the market, and how they could uniquely help you do amazing things with technology.
Most of us choose to rely on Google products dozens of times per day. Often without even thinking about it. And it all “just works” from anywhere on the planet. How? Search, Maps, YouTube, Google Home, and GSuite run atop the most sophisticated and powerful infrastructure platform ever built. And you and I can take advantage of that platform in our own software applications by using Google Cloud. That’s awesome.
Besides being a world-class infrastructure company, Google has proven to be an incredible research organization. So much of that research finds its way into your hands, and into the open for others to use. There’s almost an embarrassing number of Google-originated open source projects that millions of you depend on: Apache Beam, Android, Angular, Dart, Flutter, Go, Kubernetes, Istio, Knative, Tensorflow, and so many more. Google doesn’t need to do marketing to convince you they’re an advocate for open source software; they just keep supporting and contributing OSS people actually use!
I’m a big believer that the long-term value of (public) cloud is managed services. A managed compute layer, database, load balancer, build service, analytics platform, or machine learning engine adds so much value by (1) removing day-to-day operational tasks and (2) giving you access to continuous innovation. With Google Cloud, you get our unparalleled engineering prowess powering world-class managed services. And there’s no ambiguity in our goal: get the most value by directly using the public cloud. We’re not protecting any existing product lines or trying to sell you an OS license. Even with the hybrid cloud story, we’re making sure you can take immediate advantage of the full cloud!
There’s a trope thrown around in tech circles that says “you’re not Google.” The somewhat condescending message is that you don’t have Google-scale problems, so don’t over-engineer your solutions to act like them. Hey, make smart choices, sure. But Google’s not you, either. How about we learn from each other, and solve hard problems together? Having Google’s innovators and engineers on your team seems like an advantage.
The Enterprise-Ready Innovations
For better or worse, I’ve spent my entire 20+ year career focused on big companies, either as an employee of one, consultant, or vendor. Within the enterprise, it’s difficult to introduce sudden change, but there’s a hunger for improvement. Google Cloud strikes an ideal balance between familiarity and progress. We do that by upleveling your impression of what “good enough” looks like.
Often, public cloud vendors offer “good enough” services that feel like the bare minimum. Let’s give enterprises more than “ok” so that their decade-long bet on a platform generates a revolutionary leap for them. Google Cloud offers the best-in-class for modern office productivity with GSuite, the gold standard for Kubernetes with GKE, and the game-changing data warehouse in BigQuery. And so much more of Google Cloud feels familiar, but better:
- Compute. Choose from VMs, single-tenant nodes, bare metal servers, serverless containers, and more. Including a fully managed VMware service.
- Databases. Sure, you have managed NoSQL databases like Bigtable, Firestore, and Memorystore. But also get (familiar, but better) managed SQL Server, and the world-class Spanner database.
- Data processing. I like that Google doesn’t offer 100 ways to do the same thing. In this space, there are discrete tools for workflow, data stream processing, and messaging. Most of it open source and portable.
- Networking and security. This is critical to success, and to establishing a modern architecture. Over their own fiber network, you get unique options for routing, workload protection and isolation. Plus you get a usable identity management system and account hierarchy system. And a familiar, but better managed Active Directory.
- Hybrid, edge, and multi-cloud. Here’s where I’ll spend my time. This story is unique and a big deal for enterprises. You want the best-in-class Kubernetes, everywhere? And centralized configuration, a modern app build system, serverless computing, and service mesh? All based on open source software? Meet Anthos. It’s a portable, software-driven platform that doesn’t require a hyperconverged infrastructure stack, or an epic financial commitment to use. It’s a secure managed platform that runs on-premises, in GCP, at the edge, or even in other public clouds. Anthos aims to help you modernize faster, shrink your ops costs, and make it easier to use the best of the cloud from anywhere. Sign me up.
It’s not just about building new stuff. It’s about supporting the existing portfolio too. I like Google’s innovation in how to manage systems. Their Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) practices are a legit step forward, and offering that to you with Customer Reliability Engineering is so valuable. Modernization is the name of the game today, and products like Migrate for Anthos are a generational shift in how you get current workloads into lower-cost, more manageable environments. Google’s still learning this “enterprise” thing, but I really like what’s there so far.
Google Cloud just feels … different. The management console doesn’t make me want to light myself on fire. It’s got a clean UI and is easy to use. The compute layer is top notch and my old Pivotal colleagues used it exclusively to build and run their software. It’s affordable, performant, and reliable. Services in the platform appear thoughtfully integrated and have sensible default settings. There aren’t dozens of ways to do the same thing. Everything feels fresh and innovative, and you don’t get the sense that you’re wrestling with legacy architectural decisions.
They’ve got a generous forever-free tier of usage for many products. The billing process isn’t hostile, and they were the first to offer things like sustained use discounts, and they make it easy to set account-wide budgets to prevent runaway costs. It’s like we want you to use the public cloud without a lot of drama!
I’m going to do my part to make sure that the enterprise experience with Google Cloud is exceptional. And I also want to make sure you’re not settling for “good enough” when you should expect more, and better.
What’s changing for me?
As you can imagine, my “default” cloud changes from Microsoft Azure to Google Cloud Platform. After twelve years as a Microsoft MVP, I withdrew from the program. It was an honor to be a part of it, and I’ve made lifelong friends as a result. Switching communities will be a strange experience!
I plan to continue blogging with regularity, will continue my role at InfoQ, and have no plans to stop creating Pluralsight courses. I’ll keep comparing technologies and trying new things. That won’t change. But do expect me to be a full-throated advocate for GCP.
Thanks for joining me on the journey so far, and I hope you’ll stick with me as we learn new things together!