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A year in review: Advancements in infrastructure at Google Cloud

This past year brought both new challenges and successes for our customers around the world. We thought life was going to return to normal… and then it didn’t. Despite the uncertainty, it was exciting to see customers make huge transformations in when, where, and how they run their businesses, with cloud infrastructure as a major enabler. 

According to IDC, “by 2024, 50% of organizations will use applications built on abstraction provided by managed services including cloud-native technologies to enable consistency in running in any and many locations.”1 Over the past year we were honored to work with so many of you to start to make this prediction a reality.

Let’s take a deeper look at where our infrastructure progressed in 2021, and where we’re headed in the new year.

Google Cloud is recognized by independent experts for its leadership

For the fourth consecutive year, Google Cloud was named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services.

The Forrester Wave for AI infrastructure placed Google at the topmost position, a testament to Google’s investments in tomorrow’s AI-first world. 

Google Cloud also won the HPC Wire Editor’s Choice award for the best use of HPC in the cloud.    

We made it easier to migrate enterprise applications

To support enterprises in their transformation journeys we focused on expanding our support for enterprise applications in our cloud. The Home Depot just wrote about its successful migration of SAP to Google Cloud, highlighting how crucial it is to have good processes and strong partnerships. For other companies using SAP applications we also launched Filestore Enterprise, which delivers 99.99% regional availability ​​backed by an SLA. 

Our partner NetApp deepened its integration with Google Cloud to enable easier and faster Windows-based application migration, and provided flexible deployment options to modernize workloads. We also added new Network Connectivity Center partners to include companies like Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, and VMware, so as you migrate over time you can easily connect all your networking resources together in one place. 

For those of you considering migration to cloud, Forrester dove deeper into the economics of migrating enterprise applications to cloud. (Spoiler alert: companies are finding major cost savings and performance benefits!) It’s so important to us that companies trust that their biggest, most complex applications will run smoothly and securely with us, and we’re pleased at the progress we’ve made toward supporting more enterprise applications this year.

We also made it easier for you to migrate VMware workloads to the cloud by expanding Google Cloud VMware Engine to 12 regions worldwide and enabling several new capabilities across networking, compliance, and scale. Customers such as Mitel and Carrefour migrated their VMware estates to Google Cloud to transform their applications with Google services to increase agility, save money (up to 45%) and reduce energy costs (about 35%) compared to running on-premises. 

For High Performance Computing (HPC), we continued to add capabilities such as optimized VM images for HPC, enhanced integration with schedulers such as SchedMD, Slurm, and Altair PBSPro.    

New cost and performance options

To further support customers doing high performance computing for things like real-time advertising, dynamic e-commerce, and gaming, we launched a new VM family: Tau VMs. Tau VMs offer 56% higher absolute performance and 42% higher price-performance compared to general-purpose VMs from any of the leading public cloud vendors.  We are seeing companies such as Nylas switching from other cloud platforms to Google Cloud to make the most of Tau VMs.

That isn’t the only VM advancement we made. For customers with higher levels of fault tolerance and looking for greater cost efficiencies, we launched Spot VMs, which open up access to Google Cloud’s idle capacity so you can run your application at the lowest price possible. With Spot VMs, you save anywhere from 60-91% off the price of on-demand VMs. 

We also launched more options for the highest performance ephemeral block storage — 6TB and 9TB Local SSDs, which offer greater IOPS per dollar when attached to general purpose N2 Compute Engine VMs. 

Distributed cloud brings us closer to you

For years, the industry has been telling companies, “move to cloud!” but not all workloads can move to the public cloud immediately or entirely. Factors include industry- or region-specific compliance and data sovereignty needs, low latency or local data-processing requirements, or the need to run applications close to other services. 

In October, we expanded our distributed cloud strategy and announced Google Distributed Cloud, a portfolio of fully managed hardware and software solutions that extend Google Cloud’s infrastructure and services to data centers and the edge. This is a major step forward in our ability to meet you where you are, in private data centers and at the edge, and we’re excited to see how this helps you as we move into 2022.

Data protection and security that never sleeps

This year we worked hard to help improve your data protection capabilities. We doubled down on our Actifio acquisition by launching several releases that deepened its integration with Google Cloud. For customers with containerized applications, we took a big step forward with the launch of Backup for GKE. We’re particularly excited about how this new option for GKE users allows you to more easily meet your service-level objectives, automate common backup and recovery tasks, and show reporting for compliance and audit purposes. 

We also enhanced Cloud Storage with data protection features like custom region selection for dual-region buckets. Previously, Google Cloud assigned dual-region pairs for you to choose from. With this release, you can  select your own region pairs that meet your regulatory or compliance requirements, or optimize your app performance. We also launched Turbo Replication for dual-region buckets, which replicates 100% of your data between regions in 15 minutes or less, backed by a Service Level Agreement, a first from a leading cloud provider. 

Security is a key area of focus for us and we partnered with Palo Alto Networks to deliver their industry-leading Intrusion Detection System (IDS) solution natively on Google Cloud. With the recent Apache Log4j vulnerability, we automatically updated Cloud IDSto help detect exploit attempts and protect our customers’ environments quickly. We also integrated Cloud Armor with reCAPTCHA Enterprise to deliver a best-in-class bot and fraud management solution to prevent volumetric attacks. Cloud Armor is deployed with our Cloud Load Balancer and Cloud CDN, extending its security benefits at the network edge for traffic coming into Google Cloud. 

We made it easier to build and manage applications

Developers want to focus on code, not configuring, managing or scaling infrastructure. To help, we worked on simplifying networking with new services such as Private Service Connect, which allows you to connect VPCs to applications and services securely without configuring all the network underlay. To make it easier to run workloads in hybrid environments, we introduced BYOIP so you don’t need to change your IP address, and we enhanced Cloud Load Balancer with advanced traffic management, regional and hybrid app delivery to load balance traffic between on-prem and cloud workloads. We also introduced IPv6, DNS policy manager, Cloud Domains, GKE Gateway Controller, eBPF data plane, and Service Directory, all with the goal of making networking easier for developers.

We continue to invest in visibility and observability for efficient day 2 operations. Network Intelligence Center now has dynamic reachability within the Connectivity Tests module, interconnect and VPN visualization in Network Topology, and the Firewall Insights module, which provides visibility into firewall rules to ensure they are being used appropriately and as intended. 

And while not new this year, developers continue to tell us how much they love the ease of architecting storage using Cloud Storage. See how easy it is to configure a dual-region bucket. As a result, developers can treat a continent like a single bucket, dramatically simplifying the application programming model. Google Cloud is unique in offering this capability among major public cloud vendors.

We continue to be the most sustainable cloud for you

Another area Google has invested in deeply and that is becoming increasingly important to more organizations is sustainability. Many cloud providers have a vision for a sustainable future, and many aim to match their electricity consumption with 100% renewable energy by 2025 or 2030. We accomplished 100% renewable energy in 2017, which means we’re the only hyperscale cloud to do this today and on data centers that are twice as energy efficient as the average data center.

We also announced a number of new features like our new Carbon Footprint tool. Every Google Cloud user — that means you! — can see the gross carbon emissions associated with the services you use in Google Cloud. This means picking the data center that meets your sustainability goals, and reducing the overall emissions tied to your infrastructure and applications. And we have some pretty big goals for the future. For more, don’t miss our full sustainability recap.

A big thank you to our customers

While we were busy building out our infrastructure in 2021, we’d be nowhere without the partnership of our amazing customers. It’s hard to pick from all the exciting stories we heard this year, but here are just a few: Pega migrated its SAP applications to Google Cloud with zero downtime. Paypal exited its non-strategic data centers and achieved major cost savings. And Wix used our network to serve tens of millions of requests per day. 

I’m proud to look back at how our cloud infrastructure has evolved this year to support each of our customers on their transformation journey. As we head into 2022 I’m excited to continue to partner with you to solve your most difficult challenges together. 

Interested in hearing more about Google’s vision for the future? Listen to Thomas Kurian’s thoughts from Google Cloud Next ‘21.

1. IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2022 Predictions

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