Today at its Horizon business-oriented cloud computing conference, Google announced the launch of the Google Cloud, which includes the Google Cloud Platform public cloud infrastructure, but also Google Apps for Work, enterprise versions of Android and Chrome OS, and application programming interfaces (APIs) for machine learning and enterprise mapping services. This amounts to a significant rebranding in the Google division of parent company Alphabet.
In addition to the overall cloud name change, the Google Apps for Work portfolio — which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google+, Google Calendar, Google Hangouts, Google Forms — is now going by the new name G Suite.
“Google Cloud isn’t only the products, it is also how we work alongside companies, in an engineering-centric way,” Google cloud chief Diane Greene wrote today in a blog post. “Digital transformation and moving to the cloud are technical processes, we have customer engineers, customer reliability engineers, site reliability engineers, product engineers, all there to partner with our customers as they migrate, deploy and evolve. Our approach and our commitment to Google Cloud customers is simple: We’re in it together.”
Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure at Google, announced the launch of BigQuery for Enterprise service within the Google Cloud Platform. “You can now update tables that turns it from an analytics solution into a full data warehouse,” Hölzle said. This represents a new challenge to public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS), which offers the Redshift cloud data warehouse. Microsoft Azure, another major Google Cloud Platform competitor, has the SQL Data Warehouse.
Google also revealed the locations of eight new data center regions: Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney, Northern Virginia, São Paulo, London, Finland and Frankfurt. Google will be announcing a new data center region for its Cloud Platform around once a month, Hölzle said.
And the previously announced Cloud Machine Learning Platform service is now available in beta, Hölzle said. It was first announced at Google’s GCP Next conference in March and has been in limited preview since then.
Also today Google said the Google Cloud Platform now has more than 1 billion users, right up there with Android, Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search, and YouTube. Google’s public cloud customers include Coca-Cola, Evernote, Home Depot, Philips, Snapchat parent company Snap Inc., and Niantic Labs, the company behind the Pokémon Go app. Partners include major consulting firmAccenture.
Google internet balloon uses AI to stay in place for weeks
When Google first introduced Project Loon, its internet balloons used static algorithms to change altitude and stay in position. While clever, they were limited -- Google couldn't do much to adapt to unexpected weather patterns, which are quite common tens of thousands of feet in the air. Flash forward to today, however, and it's a different story. The Project Loon team has revealed that it's using artificial intelligence technology (specifically, machine learning) to alter balloons' behavior and keep them in position for much longer. One test balloon stayed in the Peruvian stratosphere for 98 days, adapting to tricky wind conditions that might have sent it drifting away.
As Wired notes, the algorithms now comb over large amounts of data and learn from it. In one case, the balloon temporarily floated over the Pacific Ocean to catch winds when it determined that there wouldn't be enough gusts to stay over land. There's even "reinforcement learning," which has the balloon refining its behavior even after making predictions as to what will happen. All told, the Peru vehicle made just under 20,000 tweaks to its altitude over the course of those 14 weeks, or dozens per day.
The AI-based upgrade should not only keep balloons in place for longer, but help Google trim costs and expand its reach. It won't have to use quite as many balloons to blanket an area with aerial internet access -- it can either scale back the size of the fleet or spread out over a wider area. Either way, the progress is good news for people who may soon depend on Project Loon to get internet access that would otherwise be out of reach.
Google Fiber to test home wireless internet in 24 US areas
According to an FCC filing, Google Fiber's next experimental stage is nigh. The tech titan is purportedly seeking permission to test high-speed wireless broadband in 24 US locations, including 12 cities, for a period up to 24 months. Their goal: hook a bunch of company men up and try out experimental transmitters over the 3.4 to 3.8 MHz frequency range.
Some of the locations include those where wired Fiber is already operating, like San Francisco, but not all, like Boulder, Colorado, Provo, Utah and Reston, Virginia, as Re/code points out. The company chose said cities for their radio propagation environment, buildings and foliage to test interference, pre-existing Google infrastructure and "existence of partners who may participate in the tests," according to the filing.
This may be in part referring to Webpass, the ISP Google acquired back in June that already served point-to-point wireless and fiber internet to tens of thousands of customers. Crucially, delivering it over the air bypasses many regulatory requirements for wiring homes up directly to a telecommunications grid. But any further specifics on this round of testing requires more digging: over a hundred items are redacted in the 34-pageFCC filing.
But if you happen to be in one of the test cities, don't get your hopes up yet: The company notes in the filing that these tests won't involve the average user. Only Google employees, contractors and "trusted testors" under close supervision will get to try out the wireless fiber. Until the testing goes public, we'll all have to wait. Patiently.