Google: Cloud on verge of major transformation

Google: Cloud on verge of major transformation

The pace of innovation in the cloud is speeding. Think of what the smartphone looked like before the iPhone. That's how primitive today's cloud is going to look five years from now, Google's infrastructure chief says.

Something big is up in the cloud. Google's Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle says in five years you will barely be able to recognize what today's cloud looks like.

Here's the example Hölzle gives: Think about what a "smart" phone looked like in 2007 before the first iPhone was released. Now, compare that to smartphones of today. Hölzle, who has helped the company build its Google Cloud Platform, says the cloud market is on the verge of a similar shift. "We're very early on," he says. "And this is a growth market."

In what areas will the cloud see major changes? Today, security is one of the biggest inhibitors to cloud adoption. In the future, Hölzle believes it could be one of the biggest reasons to use the cloud.

Google, Amazon and Microsoft have incredibly secure cloud systems. But, if you launch an app in one of those clouds, its security depends on how the app is configured in the cloud. AWS calls this the "shared security model," meaning that the company will secure the underlying service that the app uses, but customers have to take steps to ensure their workload is secure too.

Hölzle hopes in the future the cloud will be the most secure place to build and run applications; users will be taking a risk by not running their workloads in the cloud.

This cloud would have a secure DNS, certificate pinging, SSL everywhere, all data encrypted all the time, audit logs and many other features, some of which maybe haven't even been developed yet. Everything will be done for the app to make it secure from the moment it is developed or launched on the cloud, without the user having to do anything.

"Our systems are very secure but if you want to build a secure app on top of it, you still have to do a lot of the work," he says. "I really hope that five years from now that will not be the case."

Today, a problem with security is that so many IT environments are what he calls "snowflakes" they are so customized to a specific organization that security measures have to be adapted to that unique environment. In the future the cloud could be the standard, ultra-secure development and hosting environment. It would be a standard platform that all auditors can verify and anyone can use.

The cloud market has already evolved significantly in recent years. Three years ago companies like Amazon, Microsoft with its Azure service and Google were just filling out the basic features of their IaaS clouds such as on-demand virtual machines and various storage services. A price war among the vendors led to costs dropping as often as weekly.

Today, the big cloud players aren't fighting as much on VM and storage offerings. Vendors are taking the battle-royale in the cloud up the stack, with new offerings in big data workloads, machine learning technologies and NoSQL databases. Whether it be in security, application development or data management, Hölzle expects that trend to only continue to a point where today's clouds will be virtual indistinguishable from those in the future.

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