Recapping on Google Cloud Next 2018

At Cloudreach we are increasingly involved in GCP projects for our customers and we recently had another internal drive to encourage more Cloudreachers to get certified in GCP following the successful push we had towards the end of last year.

After getting the Professional Cloud Architect certification in December, I decided to take the Professional Data Engineer exam this summer, and as a result, was given the opportunity to attend the Cloud Next conference in San Francisco in July. There are some great tips and advice in a previous blog post by Richard Bennett for anyone looking for some guidance on the certifications. But I thought it might be useful to give a brief overview below of the conference for people who may be interested.

What is Cloud Next 2018?

Cloud Next is a three-day conference held by Google in San Francisco that attracts people interested in cloud technology. It brings together people from across the spectrum including CEO’s, architects, developers, partners etc.

The conference includes keynote presentations, presentations on specific GCP technology, Q&A’s, boot camp sessions, networking opportunities and booth’s from various companies.

What’s the value in attending Cloud Next 2018?

I found the conference to be a great opportunity to learn more about Google Cloud Platform and discover new ways in which it is being applied across different industries.

You can learn most of the key information online these days, published/streamed by Google, but you can get a richer experience by attending in person. It was useful to dedicate time to attend the presentations as there are plenty of chances to ask questions to experts and make connections for keeping in touch in the future. Walking around the booth area is also interesting to learn about how partners, customers, and competitors are progressing and discovering companies that you might not otherwise have come across.

Personal highlights of Cloud Next 2018

There were many positives to take away from the conference, as mentioned above, but here are a couple of highlights from the presentations that really stood out to me:

  • CI/CD in a Serverless World -Christopher Sanson, a Product Manager at Google, introduced new features in Cloud Build which is a managed CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) platform. Christopher was a very good speaker and the introduction of key features such as filepath triggers, and deeper integration with Github are good steps forward. Having a GCP native service that has many key CI/CD functions without having to manage a separate product could be quite attractive to our customers.
  • What's New with TensorFlow? - Tensorflow is an open source ML (Machine Learning) framework. I was quite interested in this presentation as ML will likely disrupt a lot of industries over the coming years and Google is a key player in this space. There were some interesting discussions around:
    • A real world use case of Tensorflow involving placing old android phones in a rainforest and leveraging machine learning to detect chainsaw and falling tree noise to map illegal tree logging. The system can distinguish these sounds up to 1km away from each mobile phone which helps the native people to defend their land more effectively. More details can be found here.
    • Cloud TPU - a chip designed specifically for processing tensors, highly optimised for Tensorflow. Using customised hardware rather than generic chips reduces training time for machine learning models, decreasing waiting time for users and opening opportunities to iterate over more solutions.
    • AutoML - Automated Machine Learning by letting the computer do the trial and error steps of tweaking models and iterating through results. It was interesting to hear about as this could reduce the time a human needs to spend optimising models. This approach does require a lot more computing capacity, but that is becoming cheaper all the time, so perhaps it’s only a matter of time until this becomes more feasible.
    • Tensorflow hub - a library of reusable machine learning models for people to use and contribute to.

N.B. there is a Tensorflow blog and youtube channel which are worth checking out if you want to learn more.  

How to make the most of Cloud Next?

A few tips for anyone attending future iterations of the conference:

  • Download the app
  • Pre-register for any presentations you’re interested in attending - many sessions are oversubscribed and end up with queues of people lined up waiting for walk-in places.
  • Pick sessions carefully - many presentations overlap with each other so consider whether you’d prefer to see a breadth of topics or focus on specific areas.
  • Get to sessions a few minutes early (especially the keynotes!) - it can take time to get from one room/building to another and it is sometimes very crowded!
  • Stay for the Q&A’s at the end of the presentations - the conference is full of smart people and the follow-up questions can be quite interesting.
  • Go along to the evening events - it’s fun, free food/drinks and you’ll probably meet some interesting people, or bump into others that you already know.
  • Check out the booths - lot’s of companies show off what they do and hand out freebies or hold competitions.

Hopefully, this has given a small taste of what you can get out of Cloud Next. I’m really grateful that Cloudreach gave me the opportunity to attend the conference. I learned a lot, met interesting people and generally had a fun time. I’d love to attend again in 2019 and I’m sure that at the rate GCP is progressing it will be even bigger and better in many ways. Hopefully, they host it somewhere warmer next time as San Francisco was too cold for me!

  • google-cloud-platform
  • events
  • tensorflow