Retailer concerns, opportunities for Black Friday/Cyber Monday: New research

The shelves are stocked, the ads are running, and retail executives everywhere are readying their stores and systems for the long-awaited start of holiday shopping–Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the busiest time in retail.  As the former CMO and chief digital officer at Neiman Marcus Group, and now Google Cloud’s head of retail, I know firsthand how these two single days can affect revenue, growth, and brand loyalty. For retailers that perform well, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can bring in millions of dollars and thousands of new customers. But for those who don’t, let’s just say that consumers (and shareholders) have long memories. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are truly the Super Bowl or World Cup of retail. Retailers spend 10 months conditioning their teams and systems to handle the pressures of the big event, because that’s when the stakes are highest, and all eyes are on them. These two iconic shopping days have expanded far beyond their original 24-hour period, with many retailers pushing out promotions the entire week of Thanksgiving—and some the entire month of November. With longer campaigns comes even more uncertainty around when shopping “peaks” are expected to hit. Retailers must be ready to scale at any moment, since product popularity and viral success could happen at any time.At Google Cloud, we recently commissioned The Harris Poll to survey more than 200 U.S. retail executives, gauging their expectations for this year’s holiday shopping season and what they’re doing to prepare. Here are the top trends we discovered.1. Retailers are predicting even more digital sales Retailers have been seeing sales move from in-store to online for many years, and this year the trend continues. Survey respondents expect digital sales to account for about half of their overall sales this holiday weekend, with 26% coming from their websites and 22% coming from their apps. This is higher than the regular season store vs. online mix for most retailers, proving that consumers like to do their last-minute holiday shopping online. Nearly half (46%) of the retail executives in our survey anticipate that online traffic this Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be significantly higher this year compared to last. In particular, shoppers are taking to mobile even more for product discovery, especially as they shop in-store. In the past two years, mobile searches for “best deals” have grown more than 90% and searches around “rewards apps” and “Black Friday deals” are up 200%, according to recent Google data. This rise in online traffic also echoes data from the National Retail Federation, which predicts holiday retail sales this year are set to increase between 3.8 and 4.2%, and online sales to increase between 11 and 14%, as compared to 2018. As digital sales become a bigger part of overall sales, retailers will increasingly use traffic growth and website performance as a gauge of success. In fact, when survey respondents were asked how they’ll measure Black Friday and Cyber Monday outcomes, 55% pointed to traffic growth–just below the traditional sales volume metric (60%) and just above customer satisfaction (54%).2. Retailers are working to minimize the impact of website downtimeWith the stakes so high, it’s not surprising that retailers are spending time preparing their staff, stores, and infrastructure for peak demand. More than 4 in 5 (81%) of survey respondents say they take special measures to prepare for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday, and a big part of these preparations is making sure their tech infrastructure is ready to display, process, and fulfill customer orders.There are many different touch points in a customer’s experience with a retailer, but it often starts or ends with a company’s website. Whether that customer is using the site to view a promotion, shop for ideas, place an order, or check the status of an order, this experience is a make-or-break moment. A June Retail Systems Research report, sponsored by Google, illuminated the impact that a slow or unavailable website can have on customer loyalty. When asked “Have you ever left a website because it’s too slow?” 91% of respondents said they had—and 30% of shoppers said they would think twice before using that retailer again. A website that crashes or stalls is a problem anytime of year, but it’s particularly challenging during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when traffic surges and competition for consumer dollars is at an all-time high. From the Harris Poll survey, one in ten retail executives (10%) reported that their company’s website experienced an outage during Black Friday/Cyber Monday last year, and 40% said they experienced an outage within the past three years. That’s a lot of lost revenue—and potential negative impact to brand perception. This year, retailers expect even higher volumes of traffic. Survey respondents expect to see a 38% surge, on average, during Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared to their company’s normal online traffic.3. Retailers are prepared, but not fully confidentRetailers understand the stakes and have been preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in many ways, from increasing their cloud capacity (66% of respondents), offering additional fulfillment options (61%), or spacing out offers and promotions to balance traffic (53%). Nearly nine in ten respondents (86%) said their company has a clear system that maps each process or system with its potential to degrade website performance.All this preparation has given respondents a certain level of confidence in their ability to perform during the holidays. However, many are still not fully confident and express areas of concern:Only half (52%) of respondents said they were very confident in their company’s overall peak readiness.Less than half said they were very confident in their website speed (42%) and scalability (45%) going into Black Friday and Cyber Monday. More than 80% said they were at least somewhat concerned about the efficacy of their supply chain during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with two in five (44%) saying they were very concerned.These responses aren’t particularly surprising. With so many different channels to cover, and so many different failure points to consider, it would be surprising if anyone was completely confident. But what is surprising is that nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) do not have a plan in place should their website go down during this time. Being fully prepared means having a game plan for when things go wrong.At Google Cloud, we’ve worked with some of the biggest retailers in the business to make sure they’re ready to perform during the big event. For many, that means early capacity planning, identifying potential reliability issues early on, and working side-by-side with their IT and engineering teams in a war room during game day, just in case something does go wrong. We’ve seen a big increase in cloud consumption with our top retailers year-over-year, as well as significant growth in the number of retailers utilizing our white-glove services offering. This kind of partnership and prep work can be the difference between stellar sales numbers or creating an event that damages a retailer’s brand for years to come. Find more information on Google Cloud for retail.Research Method The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Google from October 14-29, 2019, among 203 retail executives aged 21 years or older, employed full-time, part-time, or self-employed full-time, who work in the retail industry with a title of director level or higher, specifically with a role in IT, operations and production, strategy and business development, inventory management, supply chain, or ecommerce at companies with at least $5 million in annual revenue. The data are not weighted, and therefore are only representative of the individuals surveyed.
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

It’s a wrap: Key announcements from Next ‘19 UK

Next UK brought together more than 7,000 attendees to take part in discussions, breakout sessions, hands-on training and networking with industry leaders. And along the way there were a wide range of Google Cloud announcements and updates. Although a trip to London might not have been on everyone’s agenda, a trip through the week’s announcements is no further than this post. Read on for some of the highlights. Migrating, modernizing and managing infrastructureInfrastructure is the foundation of your IT environment—and Google Cloud. Earlier this year, we announced new general purpose and workload-optimized virtual machine families, which means you can migrate and run even more applications including AAA gaming, HPC and even SAP HANA. Building on our compute momentum, we recently made a number of announcements to help you take advantage of our robust network infrastructure, faster and more efficiently.  In the weeks leading up to Next UK, we announced major new networking functionality. Support for Bring Your Own IP (BYOIP) allows you to accelerate your cloud migration by carrying over your existing IP addresses to Google’s network infrastructure across all our 20 regions—we are the first cloud provider to make this feature globally available. Then, the new Network Intelligence Center provides comprehensive visibility into your global Google Cloud deployment, and lets you proactively manage your network operations, cutting down troubleshooting time and helping prevent network outages.We also want to make sure that both operators and developers are able to easily monitor their infrastructure and services and identify incidents as quickly as possible. At Next UK, we announced that Stackdriver Monitoring is moving into the Google Cloud Console (beta), allowing users to access all operations management tools in one place for a faster, easier, and more integrated experience. And with Stackdriver Logging’s new Log Router, also in beta, we provide operators with the flexibility and reliability they need to manage and route their logs; Logs Router also supports customer managed encryption keys (CMEK) for your security needs. Finally, with the launch of SLO Service API in beta, we are empowering operators on Google Cloud or on-prem to focus on a set of service health signals that reflects the end-customer experience. SLOs can be set on container or VMs environments, giving developers and operators end-to-end visibility of the health of their entire fleet of microservices, in a single place.And for specialized workloads that you aren’t ready to move to the cloud yet, we now offer via partners Bare Metal Solution, dedicated infrastructure on which you can run applications like Oracle Database that’s connected via a low-latency and highly resilient interconnect to Google Cloud.Accelerating app modernizationYou don’t just want to move your applications to the cloud; you want to modernize them too, much the way that new customers such as Kaeser Kompressoren SE and DenizBank are doing with Anthos.  To help you get there, Migrate for Anthos is now generally available, allowing you to convert physical servers or virtual machines from a variety of sources (on-prem, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Compute Engine) directly into containers running in Anthos or Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). Or perhaps you want to connect applications via APIs. Apigee hybrid is now generally available, letting you deploy your API runtimes in a hybrid environment—both on-prem or in Google Cloud, including Anthos.We’re also helping you modernize your software development processes. We announced the general availability of both Cloud Run and Cloud Run for Anthos last week, bringing the benefits of serverless to container-based applications. And building Kubernetes applications is now easier than ever, with the general availability of Cloud Code, which integrates directly into your IDE, so you can create cloud-native apps from the comfort of your favorite development environment.   Unlocking data insightsCapturing and managing the data you need is essential to build an analytics foundation. We’ve made it easier with a few new tools.This week we announced the general availability of Cloud Data Fusion, a managed, cloud-native data ingestion and integration service. It equips developers, data engineers and business analysts to easily build and manage ETL and ELT pipelines to cleanse, transform and blend data from a broad range of sources. Data Fusion shifts an organization’s focus away from code and integration to insights and action. Built on the open source project CDAP, the product’s open core ensures portability for users across hybrid and multi-cloud environments. CDAP’s broad integration with on-prem and public cloud platforms gives Data Fusion users the ability to break down silos and deliver more value than ever through Google’s industry-leading big data tools.To make streaming analytics simpler and more cost-effective, we announced new features in Cloud Dataflow SQL, available in the public preview, as well as the general availability of Cloud Dataflow Flexible Resource Scheduling (FlexRS) for cost-effective batch event processing. Streaming analytics is an important part of modern data analytics, letting businesses better understand their customers in real time and make decisions accordingly. These new features make streaming analytics easier and more accessible to data engineers, particularly those with database experience. Cloud Dataflow SQL lets you use SQL queries to develop and run Cloud Dataflow jobs from the BigQuery web UI, and new features include Cloud Storage file support and a visual schema editor. The new Cloud Dataflow FlexRS feature reduces batch processing costs by up to 40% using advanced resourcescheduling techniques and a mix of different virtual machine (VM) types (including thepreemptible VM instances) to decrease processing costs while providing the same job completion guarantees as regular Cloud Dataflow jobs.Increasing interpretability with Explainable AIAI and machine learning are among the most transformative technologies of our era, and our aim is to put these tools in reach of more businesses, and do it in a way that’s fairer and more responsible. Our announcements at Next UK continue to further those goals.We announced Explainable AI to increase interpretability of AI and help developers understand how their machine learning models reached certain outcomes. Explainable AI consists of tools and frameworks to deploy interpretable and inclusive machine learning models. AI Explanations for AutoML Tables and Cloud AI Platform are available now and to start making your own AI deployments more understandable with Explainable AI, visit cloud.google.com/explainable-ai. You can also learn more by reading our AI blog post.Bringing more assistive features to the workplaceSpeaking of AI, we’re introducing new ways to help people create high-quality, error-free documents. We’re bringing the Smart Compose feature to Google Docs(beta), which uses AI to suggest complete sentences as you type. And now with the help of neural machine translation, Docs can help prevent even more spelling or grammatical errors in your work. Beyond helping folks create top-notch Docs, we announced that we’re expanding the power of the Google Assistant for G Suite users (beta). When people are logged into their G Suite account, they’ll soon be able to accomplish more on the go, like using voice commands to manage their calendar, send quick messages, or dial into meetings.Read more about how you can start using assistive features in Docs or expanded functionality of the Google Assistant in this post.Advancing control and visibility in the cloudCloud security depends on a strong foundation. In the weeks leading up to Next UK, we, along with our partners, announced OpenTitan—the first open source silicon root of trust (RoT) project that provides RoT design and integration guidelines for use in data center servers, storage, peripherals, and more. Open sourcing silicon design makes it more transparent, trustworthy, and ultimately, secure.Building on a secure-by-design foundation, we announced multiple capabilities to help customers increase control and visibility over their data and secure their cloud environments: External Key Manager, Key Access Justifications, Cloud Armor WAF, Packet Mirroring,andAdvanced Protection Program for G Suite users. In addition, we announced technical capabilities in Google Cloud that our European customers can use to meet their preferences for additional data residency, operational control, and access control.Looking aheadWe’re grateful for the chance to spend two full days learning from our customers, collaborators and partners in EMEA this week, and hearing so many amazing stories. And while all good things must come to an end, we have Next ’20 to look forward to—April 6-8 in San Francisco. We hope to see you there.To learn more, visit g.co/cloudnext.
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

Increasing transparency with Google Cloud Explainable AI

June marked the first anniversary of Google’s AI Principles, which formally outline our pledge to explore the potential of AI in a respectful, ethical and socially beneficial way. For Google Cloud, they also serve as an ongoing commitment to our customers—the tens of thousands of businesses worldwide who rely on Google Cloud AI every day—to deliver the transformative capabilities they need to thrive while aiming to help improve privacy, security, fairness, and the trust of their users.We strive to build AI aligned with our AI Principles and we’re excited to introduce Explainable AI, which helps humans understand how a machine learning model reaches its conclusions.Increasing interpretability of AI with Explainable AIAI can unlock new ways to make businesses more efficient and create new opportunities to delight customers. That said, as with any new data-driven decision making tool, it can be a challenge to bring machine learning models into a business.Machine learning models can identify intricate correlations between enormous numbers of data points. While this capability allows AI models to reach incredible accuracy, inspecting the structure or weights of a model often tells you little about a model’s behavior. This means that for some decision makers, particularly those in industries where confidence is critical, the benefits of AI can be out of reach without interpretability. This is why we are excited to announce our latest step in improving the interpretability of AI with Google Cloud AI Explanations. Explanations quantifies each data factor’s contribution to the output of a machine learning model. These summaries help enterprises understand why the model made the decisions it did. You can use this information to further improve your models or share useful insights with the model’s consumers.Of course, any explanation method has limitations. For one, AI Explanations reflect the patterns the model found in the data, but they don’t reveal any fundamental relationships in your data sample, population, or application. We’re striving to make the most straightforward, useful explanation methods available to our customers, while being transparent about its limitations. We have received positive feedback from customers who are looking forward to applying AI Explanations:Sky“Understanding how models arrive at their decisions is critical for the use of AI in our industry. We are excited to see the progress made by Google Cloud to solve this industry challenge. With tools like What-If Tool, and feature attributions in AI Platform, our data scientists can build models with confidence, and provide human-understandable explanations.” —Stefan Hoejmose, Head of Data Journeys, SkyVivint Solar”Model interpretability is critical to our ability to optimize AI and solve the problem in the best possible way. Google is pushing the envelope in Explainable AI through research and development. And with Google Cloud, we’re getting tried and tested technologies to solve the challenge of model interpretability and uplevel our data science capabilities.” —Aaron Davis, Chief Data Scientist, Vivint SolarWellio“Introspection of models is essential for both model development and deployment. Oftentimes we tend to focus too much on predictive skill when in reality it’s the more explainable model that is usually the most useful, and more importantly, the most trusted. We are excited to see these new tools made by Google Cloud, supporting both our data scientists and also our models’ customers.” —Erik Andrejko, CTO, Wellio iRobot“We are leveraging neural networks to develop capabilities for future products. Easy-to-use, high-quality solutions that improve the training of our deep learning models are a prerogative for our efforts. We are excited to see the progress made by Google Cloud to solve the problem of feature attributions and provide human-understandable explanations to what our models are doing.“ —Chris Jones, Chief Technology Officer, iRobotExplainable AI consists of tools and frameworks to deploy interpretable and inclusive machine learning models. AI Explanations for models hosted on AutoML Tables and Cloud AI Platform Predictions are available now. You can even pair AI Explanations with our popular What-If Tool to get a complete picture of your model’s behavior–check out this blog post for more information. To start making your own AI deployments more understandable with Explainable AI, please visit: https://cloud.google.com/explainable-ai. Expanding our Responsible AI effortsAlongside tools and frameworks like AI Explanations, we continue to seek new ways to align our work with the AI Principles. This includes efforts focused on increasing transparency, and today we’re introducing model cards, starting with examples for two features of our Cloud Vision API, Face Detection and Object Detection. Inspired by the January 2019 academic paper, Model Cards for Model Reporting, these “cards” are “short documents accompanying trained machine learning models that provide benchmarked evaluation in a variety of conditions.” Our aim with these first model card examples is to provide practical information about models’ performance and limitations in order to help developers make better decisions about what models to use for what purpose and how to deploy them responsibly. For more information and to share your feedback, we encourage you to visit modelcards.withgoogle.com.Additionally, we believe deeply in building our products with responsible use of AI as a core part of our development process. As we’ve shared previously, we’ve developed a process to support aligning our work with the AI Principles and we’ve now begun working with customers as they seek to create and support such processes for their own organizations. Our collective support of each other’s efforts will lead to more successful deployed AI, and we’ve been thrilled to work closely with HSBC–one of the world’s largest banks and a continual innovator in financial services–in this effort. By engaging in this joint process, we were able to share relevant expertise across our organizations. HSBC was impressed by the rigor and analysis we brought to the review process, as well as our commitment to ensuring safe, ethical and fair outcomes, and quickly recognized the value of such an approach. In parallel, HSBC has been developing  their own responsible AI review process to ensure their future AI initiatives benefit from the same guidance and reliability as their Google Cloud deployments.Ongoing commitmentIt’s been an exciting year for so many aspects of AI, but the most inspiring breakthroughs aren’t always about technology. Sometimes, it’s the strides we take toward increased fairness and inclusion that make the biggest difference. That’s why, as the power and scope of AI increases, we remain committed to ensuring it serves all of us. Responsible AI isn’t a destination, but a journey we share with our customers and users. We hope you’ll join us. For more information about our Responsible AI Practices, please visit: https://ai.google/responsibilities/responsible-ai-practices/
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

Just Eat satisfies its appetite for customer insights with Google Cloud

The app economy has enabled a huge range of unique business models to flourish. One such model is online food ordering and delivery services, in which apps leverage geo-location data to aggregate local food choices and offer personalized options to consumers.A leading company in this space is Just Eat. Launched in the UK in 2001 with a vision of ‘serving the world’s greatest menu. Brilliantly.’ The company has capitalized on the popularity of online food delivery and grown its presence across 12 markets. Just Eat acts as an intermediary between take-out food outlets and hungry customers, giving local restaurants access to a broader base of potential diners, while providing consumers with an easy and secure way to order and pay for food from their favourite restaurants. Today the company helps 27 million customers find food from more than 112,000 restaurants—everything from homemade Italian pasta, to Chinese noodle bowls, to fish-and-chips. Data is the fuel of Just Eat’s rapid growth, but it wasn’t always looked at that way. In its early days, Just Eat struggled with the deluge of information and faced fragmentation across its systems. In fact, the company realized its legacy data vendor wasn’t capable of ingesting 90 percent of the data produced by its food platform. This was incredibly frustrating for Just Eat’s analysts and data scientists, who had to waste time cleaning up sources instead of leveraging the data to create a better user experience. Just Eat turned to Google Cloud, and now uses machine learning (ML) to power sophisticated consumer recommendations on both its app and website. It also makes heavy use of features offered by Google Cloud Platform, including BigQuery for running analytics on its customer data set and Cloud Pub/Sub for messaging app users with relevant offers in real-time. Having all of Just Eat’s data in one platform has translated into real value for its customers. With Google Cloud tools, Just Eat has created its own proprietary Customer Ontology framework, which today contains 5.5 billion features that better understand consumers’ behavior and food habits, and provides insights into previous visits. Just Eat recently created an “Adventurous Index” to map its customers according to their ordering habits, enabling them to tailor their marketing and user experiences. For example, mid-adventurous customers are shown a choice of restaurants that serve their most ordered cuisine, while adventurous customers can choose from restaurants that serve a wider variety. This not only has prompted consumers to be more adventurous with their choices, but also has led to more business at a more diverse set of restaurants.Matt Cresswell, Director of Customer Platforms at Just Eat said that Google Cloud has become integral to its product delivery: “Consumer food choice is a hugely nuanced topic. We know that individuals have their own unique journeys when they use Just Eat. We’ve sought to create a truly one-to-one relationship with every customer. The changes we’ve made to the platform mean they can access the dishes they enjoy at the touch of a fingertip, and find inspiration to discover new dishes they’ll love. We’re grateful to Google Cloud for helping us support our customers on their culinary explorations.”
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

From showroom to front room: DFS delivers smarter retail experiences with Google Cloud

Delivering smarter retail journeys that marry the personal service of a store visit with the wealth of choice available online has become a key ambition in the consumer goods industry. While we’ve come to expect digitally integrated shopping experiences when buying electronics or groceries, even shoppers of made-to-order products can benefit from the use of public cloud to enhance customer touchpoints across digital and physical channels.This is what DFS, the UK’s leading upholstery retailer, is now doing with Google Cloud’s support. A household name, with a 50-year pedigree and more than 5,500 employees, DFS is highly regarded for the quality of its handmade-to-order sofas and soft furnishings, and for the service customers receive when visiting its showrooms. The company operates its own distribution network, with the support of 20 distribution centers, nearly 300 delivery vehicles and over 600 delivery specialists.We’re working with DFS across its sales and distribution network, helping it to prepare for the future of retail via an unparalleled combination of cloud services, collaboration tools and digital devices.Our relationship came about due to DFS’ acquisition of Sofology in 2017. The company had some decisions to make around how it should integrate IT infrastructure and applications as a group, DFS looked at what it could learn from its new brand’s technology approach. As part of this exploration, conducted with Google Premier partner NetPremacy, it also reviewed its existing environment in light of the traffic demands during the Christmas holiday.DFS first followed Sofology’s example by trialing G Suite for employee communications, looking to effect broader culture change towards more seamless collaboration. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, prompting adoption and roll out across its network over a six-month period in 2019. The success of G Suite led DFS to investigate further Google products, resulting in the decision to adopt two additional solutions.Firstly, DFS embraced Chrome devices to improve in-store systems and augment the customer experience.  The company rolled out 1,200 Chromebooks to its retail stores in late 2019, enabling salespeople to access key information in a convenient and secure way, while interacting with customers. Technical colleagues found that the tablets could be set up in a matter of seconds, with secure login and individual accounts for each member of staff on the showroom floor.Secondly, DFS has made the decision to transition its web platform from a  private cloud environment to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Once implemented, this will allow the technology team to deploy a number of new applications, and will result in a series of benefits, including:Improved functionality and performance of DFS’ e-commerce platform. The site will have far greater capacity, providing a more responsive user experience and scalable resources to easily handle seasonal spikes in traffic.E-commerce back-end improvements, including greater flexibility and the ability to deploy major upgrades seamlessly.A commercial benefit in lowering hosting costs, compared with the previous approach. The transition to GCP took place in November 2019 and is expected to deliver a positive revenue impact over the busy Christmas season.Russell Harte, Group Technology Director at DFS, said, “Our business relies on a lot of moving parts all working in harmony. Whether a customer visits us digitally or in person–or both–there needs to be a congruence in the offers they see and the service they receive. The work we’re doing with Google Cloud will ensure the best possible experience for end users, while also bringing efficiencies to our logistical capabilities.” “As we migrate to GCP and access the range of applications available, we’re gaining a better understanding of what’s possible with the platform and how we can use it to seize the opportunity to react better to new challenges.”DFS is now looking at a range of other capabilities made possible by its new cloud environment. These include the adoption of containerization through Kubernetes for faster application development, and the use of Apigee as an integration layer to bring together supply chains from across the group and improve last-mile logistics for deliveries. The company is also putting more resources into leveraging data science capabilities within GCP infrastructure, to gain insights from large volumes of data. It’s anticipated that harnessing this data will enable DFS to predict demand and footfall more accurately, and to gain greater visibility over logistical data to improve the efficiency of customer deliveries.“The relationship with Google Cloud has been excellent,” says Russell. “It’s also setting our business up for where the retail industry is going, enabling a smarter, more customer-centric approach. They understand our business challenges and have the unique expertise to help us drive forward. We’re excited about how the partnership will grow from here.”
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

Bare Metal Solution: Enabling specialized workloads in Google Cloud

Enterprises want to embrace the pace of innovation and an operational business model of the modern-day cloud, but they don’t want to disrupt their existing IT landscape or upgrade all their legacy applications. This presents a conundrum, as most legacy applications were not designed to run in the cloud, and migrating them can be challenging, risky and cost-prohibitive. The complexity, cost and risk of cloud migration often stand in the way of a successful digital transformation. At Google Cloud, we work to meet you where you are and help you craft a migration strategy that lets you run what you want, where you want, how you want. This is why we’re excited to introduce Bare Metal Solution: to jumpstart the migration of applications that have been holding back your cloud adoption. Bare Metal Solution consists of all the infrastructure you need to run your specialized workload such as Oracle Database close to Google Cloud. This infrastructure is connected with a dedicated, low-latency and highly resilient interconnect, and connects to all native Google Cloud services. Bare Metal Solution uses OEM hardware that is certified to run multiple enterprise applications, most of which can be migrated to this infrastructure with little or no change, minimizing the risk of migration while simultaneously increasing its velocity.Bare Metal Solution also comes with automation tools to help you onboard your environment quickly—provisioning your applications, relational databases, configuring popular operating systems and setting up services such as backups and monitoring. The management interface will be familiar to your existing IT teams or systems integrator, allowing you to leverage your investments in existing tools, processes and personnel.In addition to providing state-of-the-art infrastructure and integrated low-latency access to Google Cloud, Bare Metal Solution also provides the following:Completely managed hardware infrastructure: End-to-end infrastructure management such as compute, storage and networking, as well as fully managed and monitored environments such as power, cooling and facilities.Google Cloud support and billing: A seamless support experience with support for infrastructure, including defined SLAs for initial response. 24X7 coverage for all Priority 1 and 2 issues. Unified billing across Google Cloud and Bare Metal Solution. Service Level Agreements: Defined enterprise-grade SLA for hardware uptime and interconnect availability.As an integral part of Google Cloud, Bare Metal Solution lets you off-load provisioning, managing and monitoring of your infrastructure to Google, so you can focus on your own data center modernization. The nitty gritty Many of the workloads that run on Bare Metal Solution have demanding CPU and I/O requirements. Bare Metal Solution provides a cost-effective and scalable architecture based on state-of-the-art x86 servers and high-performance, resilient storage. The servers are offered in several fixed configurations that support most mainstream enterprise operating systems:Dual-core x86 systems16 core with 384 GB DRAM24 core with 768 GB DRAM56 core with 1536 GB DRAMQuad-core x86 systems56 core with 1536 GB DRAM 112 core with 3072 GB DRAMBare Metal Solution servers can be used for standalone applications, or configured with application native or database native clustering technologies for high availability. Storage is offered in 1TB volume increments of either hybrid or all-flash disk. For applications that require custom compute shapes or special-purpose hardware, we also offer bespoke hardware configurations. Bare Metal Solution uses OEM hardware that is certified for many ISV software applications as well as custom built applications, including those built on Oracle Database. These hardware configurations are offered as a subscription, billed monthly with a preferred term length of 36 months. There are no data ingress and egress charges between Bare Metal Solution and Google Cloud in the same region; customers are responsible for provisioning adequate bandwidth for their business needs.Legacy apps are no barrier to cloudGoogle Cloud is the preferred destination for organizations building cloud-native applications as well as migrating existing on-premises applications, bringing reliable infrastructure, leading data analytics capabilities, and a culture of innovation to your IT environment. Whether you’re looking to build new applications in the cloud or to overhaul your infrastructure, we’re here to help you reach your digital transformation goals. And now, with Bare Metal Solution, we’re excited to extend the power of Google Cloud to specialized, legacy workloads. To learn more please visit our website.
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

Advancing control and visibility in the cloud

At Google Cloud, we work tirelessly to give our customers increasing levels of control and visibility over their data. Today in London at Next UK, we’re announcing new capabilities for data encryption, network security, security analytics, and user protection designed to deliver on that promise. External Key Manager: Store and manage encryption keys outside of Google CloudWe give enterprises a broad range of encryption options so you can appropriately balance risk, control, security, and operational complexity when protecting your cloud workloads.Google Cloud encrypts customer data at-rest by default and offers customers multiple options to control and manage their encryption keys. Today, we’re pleased to announce the next level of control with our new External Key Manager. Coming soon to beta, External Key Manager works with Cloud KMS and lets you encrypt data in BigQuery and Compute Engine with encryption keys stored and managed in a third-party key management system deployed outside Google’s infrastructure. External Key Manager allows you to maintain separation between your data at-rest and your encryption keys while still leveraging the power of cloud for compute and analytics.To make this new service easy to implement, we are working with five industry-leading key management vendors: Equinix, Fortanix, Ionic, Thales and Unbound. Key Access Justifications: Decide when and why your data can be decrypted We believe that trust in the cloud is created through transparency. Google Cloud led the industry in providing meaningful transparency into provider access to customer data, and now we’re extending that transparency to use of encryption keys. Key Access Justifications is a new feature that will work with External Key Manager. It provides a detailed justification each time one of your keys is requested to decrypt data, along with a mechanism for you to explicitly approve or deny providing the key using an automated policy that you set. Using External Key Manager and Key Access Justifications together, you can deny Google the ability to decrypt your data for any reason. As a result, you are the ultimate arbiter of access to your data–a level of control not available from any other cloud provider. Key Access Justifications is coming soon to alpha for BigQuery, and Compute Engine/Persistent Disk and covers the transition from data-at-rest to data-in-use. Customers interested in becoming early adopters can sign up here.These new encryption innovations complement other recently released encryption options:Customer-managed encryption keys for Cloud SQL, now generally available (GA)Customer managed encryption keys for GKE persistent disks, a beta feature for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)Application layer secrets encryption in GKE, a GA feature which enables envelope encryption for your Kubernetes secretsKey import for Cloud HSM, a GA feature which lets users generate and use their own keys with Google Cloud’s managed HSM serviceCloud HSM availability in all Google Cloud regions and multi-regions (with the exception of global multi-region)All these updates offer you more control over how your data is protected.  Defend against internet threatsWhen you stand up applications on Google Cloud, you benefit from DDoS and web attack protection at Google scale. Google Cloud Armor works with our global Cloud Load Balancing infrastructure and provides always-on attack detection and mitigation so you can run your business without interruption. Today, we’re pleased to announce Cloud Armor’s new web application firewall (WAF) capabilities to help protect applications against targeted and distributed internet threats. You can now configure Cloud Armor policies with geo-based access controls, pre-configured WAF application protection rules to mitigate OWASP Top 10 risks, and a custom rules language to create custom Layer-7 filtering policies.Cloud Armor also now integrates with Cloud Security Command Center (Cloud SCC), notifying customers of suspicious application traffic patterns directly in the Cloud SCC dashboard.Collect and inspect network traffic at scaleAs networks grow in complexity, monitoring traffic helps you manage performance and security. In public cloud environments however, capturing network traffic reliably at scale for monitoring has been a challenge. Our new Packet Mirroring service, now in beta, allows you to collect and inspect network traffic for Compute Engine and GKE; it’s available for all machine types in all of our regions. With this service, you can use third-party tools to more proactively detect threats, better respond to intrusions with signature-based attack detection, and better identify zero-day attacks with anomaly detection. For more, watch this video.We’ve built an ecosystem of partners so you can use Packet Mirroring with third-party tools of your choice, including products from Awake Security, Check Point, Cisco, Corelight, cPacket Networks, ExtraHop Networks, Flowmon, Ixia by Keysight, Netscout, and Palo Alto Networks.Protect G Suite and Cloud Identity usersGoogle’s Advanced Protection Program is our strongest protection for users at risk of targeted attacks. In the enterprise, this includes IT administrators and executives. Today, the Advanced Protection Program is starting to roll out to G Suite and Cloud Identity customers. With the Advanced Protection Program for the enterprise, we’ll enforce a specific set of policies for enrolled users including security key enforcement, blocking access to untrusted apps and enhanced scanning for email threats. Learn more.We’re also introducing app access control, helping you reduce the risk of data loss by limiting access to G Suite APIs to third-party apps you trust. You can also more easily manage and restrict which Google APIs are available for use by third-party and customer-owned apps, and see which apps are verified by Google. Learn more.Benefit from unique Google threat intelligence in Cloud Security Command CenterWe continue to build products that help our customers benefit from the techniques we’ve developed to defend Google. Whether you are using Cloud Security Command Center to improve your security posture on GCP, or Chronicle Backstory to monitor your data on premise or in other clouds, we’re packaging threat detection and prevention capabilities that are available only from Google, and giving them to you.Event Threat Detection, now in beta, helps you detect threats targeting your cloud resources using logs, so you can send incidents to your SIEM (Security Information and Event Management system) for further investigation. Event Threat Detection relies on Google threat intelligence to help you spot and stop threats before they result in business damage or loss. Security Health Analytics helps you prevent incidents by identifying potential misconfigurations and compliance violations in your GCP resources and suggesting appropriate corrective action.As we continue to innovate and simplify security management on GCP, Event Threat Detection and Security Health Analytics will be bundled in a Premium Edition of Cloud Security Command Center with other new capabilities that help you meet industry compliance requirements, catch web application vulnerabilities, detect compromised VMs, and discover other threats. The Premium Edition will give you a comprehensive, easy-to-deploy set of tools to protect your cloud resources. To learn more about how to use Cloud Security Command Center, check out our recent video series. Chronicle: security analytics wherever your apps are deployedChronicle’s Backstory product was designed by former Google security professionals to enable anyone to use the types of techniques we use to detect threats and investigate security incidents. It brings world-class strengths in data analytics to your security data, privately and easily.Many organizations leverage a mix of on-prem environments and multiple clouds to run their applications, making it difficult to collect and store security telemetry from various systems and tie individual events together for analysis. Backstory, our flagship offering for hybrid security analytics, offers you this level of intelligence. With just a few clicks, in minutes, you can aggregate and analyze your security telemetry wherever your apps may run, and where they might run in the future.Be sure to check out the Chronicle booth during Next UK to learn more!Learn moreWith these capabilities, we continue to innovate and empower Google Cloud customers with advanced security functionality that is easy to deploy and use. Learn more about our entire portfolio of security capabilities in our Trust & Security Center.
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

Understanding your options for data residency, operational transparency, and privacy controls on Google Cloud Platform

At Google Cloud, the privacy and security of customer data are primary design criteria that underpin all the services we offer. At Google Cloud Next UK, we offered a series of commitments to our European customers that our platform will offer tools to meet their strict needs and preferences for enterprise data residency, operational transparency, and privacy controls. While this post focuses on our European customers, these requirements are not unique to Europe. Cloud users around the world have similar needs, and these principles apply to customers in every region. This post aims to provide further technical clarity around options customers have for configuring services to meet these requirements when using Google Cloud. Configuring where your data is stored and where users can access it fromGoogle Cloud offers you the ability to control where your data is stored. Today you can choose to store your data in regions based in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, with more regions announced and several others in-motion. When you choose to configure resources in these locations, for our key services, “Google will store that Customer Data at rest only in the selected Region” per our Service Specific Terms. To strengthen these controls further, Google Cloud offers Organization Policy constraints which can be applied at the organization, folder, or project level. You can limit the physical location of a new resource with the Organization Policy Service resource locations constraint. When coupled with Cloud IAM configuration to enable or disable services for sets of users, you can prevent your employees from accidentally storing data in the wrong Google Cloud region.You also have the ability to control the network locations from which users can access data by using VPC Service Controls. This product allows you to limit access to users in a specific region. You can even enforce this constraint if the user is authorized according to your Cloud IAM policy. Using VPC Service Controls, you create a service perimeter which defines the virtual boundaries from which a service can be accessed, preventing data from being moved outside those boundaries.Controlling where your encryption keys are storedIf you are using Cloud KMS, your cryptographic keys will be stored in the region where you deploy the resource. You also have the option of storing those keys inside a physical Hardware Security Module located in the region you choose with Cloud HSM. We recently announced beta availability of External Key Manager, which allows you to store and manage keys in a third-party key management product deployed outside of Google’s infrastructure. Using a third-party product allows you to place it in a geographic location of your choice. Controlling cloud administrators’ access to your dataOn Google Cloud Platform, you configure Cloud IAM permissions to limit access by your own administrators. We also allow you to control access by Google Support and Engineering personnel. Access Approval allows you to require explicit approval before Google employees access your data or configurations on Google Cloud Platform (unless those accesses are necessary to resolve a current service disruption or security incident or required by law). This product complements the visibility provided by Access Transparency, which generates near real-time logs when Google administrators interact with your data, including the office location of the administrator and the reason for the access. Coming soon, you’ll be able to enforce specific attributes for administrators who are allowed to access your data or configurations—including the geographic region from which they are operating and other compliance-relevant attributes. Finally, we recently announced Key Access Justifications, a feature that works with Cloud KMS and External Key Manager. This feature provides a detailed justification each time one of your keys is requested to decrypt data, along with a mechanism for you to approve or deny key access, using an automated policy that you set. Using all of these products and features together, you can deny Google the ability to decrypt your data for any reason. As a result, you are the ultimate arbiter of access to your data–a level of control not available from any other cloud provider.Putting it all togetherThese capabilities create a solution that gives our customers control over the location of their data and overall access to that data – by Google or by anyone. With these considerations addressed, our customers in Europe and around the globe can confidently build mission critical workloads on Google Cloud. Even so, we’re not done yet: we continue to invest in data privacy and security innovations to anticipate the future needs of our customers so that they can adopt  GCP today knowing that they are fortified for the future..To learn more about the capabilities you can take advantage of, read our whitepaper and visit our Security site.
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

Deepening our commitment to European businesses

Since launching Google Cloud in Europe in 2012, we’ve been inspired by all the ways enterprises in the region are transforming their businesses in our cloud. We continue to deliver new capabilities to support our European customers and bring the cloud to more organizations. In the last year, we added to our existing cloud region footprint of Belgium, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK by launching our new cloud region in Zurich, and announced plans for another new region in Poland. We also expanded our compliance certifications, most recently adding HDS, TISAX, and obtaining an ISAE 3000 report (relating to FINMA compliance) to our growing list. And we’re growing our ecosystem of partners which are key to customers in Europe such as Accenture, Atos, Deloitte, HCL, SAP, and many others. And all the while, we’ve maintained our strong commitment to clean energy, matching our entire annual electricity consumption with renewable energy.  This week, we welcome thousands of customers, partners, business leaders and developers to Google Cloud Next UK in London—our largest Google Cloud event in Europe. On a personal note, I’m excited to round out my first three months at Google Cloud with my first Next, and I look forward to listening deeply to our customers and learning from their cloud journeys. Our commitment to our European customersEurope’s ambition for a successful digital transition is something we have always strived to support and enable. Our cloud is designed to fully empower European organizations’ strict data security and privacy requirements and preferences. Where data resides, who has access to customers’ data, and protections for the privacy and security of customers’ data is central to our offering. With the capabilities we offer and are introducing, Google Cloud customers can store data in a European region, ensure data is not moved outside of Europe, and prevent users and administrators outside Europe from accessing their data. They can manage their own encryption keys, ensure the keys are stored in a European region, and store their encryption keys outside Google Cloud’s infrastructure. They can also receive a detailed justification each time a key is requested to decrypt data, and deny Google the ability to decrypt their data for any reason. You can learn more by reading our security blog post.These capabilities reflect our belief that customers should have the strongest levels of control over data stored in the cloud in addition to the highest level of security. For insight into what this commitment to customers means from a technical perspective, please see our post, “Understanding your options for data residency, operational transparency, and control on Google Cloud Platform” How our European customers are building on Google CloudWe continue to be inspired by the many ways Google Cloud customers across Europe leverage the capabilities of the cloud to transform their businesses. From digital natives building a technology business, to retail companies that have been around for more than 100 years, we are here to support these European organizations in their quests for innovation and growth on a global scale. Here are a few of our favorite stories from the past 12 months:WPP, the world’s largest advertising holding company, is using Google Cloud to help them do everything from building a media planning stewardship system, to using AI tools like image recognition and natural language processing to improve campaigns. By incorporating cloud technology into WPP’s daily practices, teams can speed up their time-to-insight and uncover new opportunities for clients. Learn more in our WPP blog post.The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) oversees 24 separate agencies and public bodies to support the movement of people and goods. Its digital team delivers technology across DfT’s operations and supports the department’s broader modernization goals, which often requires it to search through and consume data produced by its constituent agencies. DfT needed to modernize its core technology stack to support digital transformation, which is why it’s working with Google Cloud. It’s anticipated that by June 2020 the department will operate as a cloud-first organization. Read more on Department for Transport and the cloud in our DfT blog post.With a growing fleet of 325 aircraft that cover more than 1,000 routes across 158 airports, easyJet is one of Europe’s most popular airlines, so a helpful mobile experience for its customers is a key priority. Powered by Dialogflow, Google Cloud’s natural language understanding tool for building conversational experiences, easyJet partnered with technology company Travelport to develop Speak Now, a new feature on easyJet’s mobile app. Speak Now lets customers ask questions to determine exactly what they’re looking for—from destinations, to dates and times, to airports they want to fly from. Find out more in our easyJet blog post.Customer experience and network data are key assets for Vodafone, one of the world’s leading telecom and technology services companies. It’s working with Google Cloud to transform its data operations to further improve services, engage customers, and create powerful new products. Learn more by reading Vodafone blog post.Just Eat, the popular online food ordering and delivery service, turned to Google Cloud to power sophisticated consumer recommendations on both its app and website. It also makes heavy use of features offered by Google Cloud Platform, including BigQuery for running analytics on its customer data set and Cloud Pub/Sub for messaging app users with relevant offers in real-time. Ride-hailing service Kapten has been skyrocketing in popularity in Paris and is now in the process of expanding to new cities in France and across Europe. To support its growth, Kapten has migrated its microservices-based architecture to Google Cloud to take advantage of Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), where it now runs 135 microservices. Now that it benefits from the orchestration layer offered by GKE, Kapten no longer needs to spend time developing the tools to manage these microservices and find workarounds.Clothing retailer AllSaints had already embraced G Suite to ensure strong collaboration between corporate offices and retail locations. This year, they embarked on an ambitious migration to Google Cloud Platform as well. Moving to a microservices architecture on Google Cloud helped them cut costs by half and improve page load times by 32%, resulting in increased online sales. These compliment the wealth of stories we’ve shared throughout the past 12 months, from Deutsche Börse Group, Sanofi, The Telegraph, Sainsbury’s, Lush and many more. We look forward to learning more from these and other customers throughout Next UK.Looking aheadToday’s announcements and updates are part of our ongoing commitment to make Google Cloud the best place for digital transformation for European organizations—across infrastructure, platforms, and industry-specific solutions that enable businesses to move faster. Learn more by reading stories from our customers, in Europe and beyond, or visit our website.
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform

How the John Lewis Partnership is transforming customer experiences with Google Cloud

The John Lewis Partnership, comprising of the John Lewis & Partners department stores and Waitrose & Partners shops, is an innovative company on many levels. When the first John Lewis & Partners department store opened on Oxford Street, London, in 1864, few could have imagined the business would have grown so much in the last 150 years. What’s driven its longstanding success are quality products, a focus on exceptional customer service, and a forward-looking company culture. Indeed, challenging the status quo is part of the fabric of the company. For many years a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, John Lewis & Partners is now a cutting-edge digital innovator, with revenue steadily increasing from its digital channels. This has meant bringing the choice, quality, and responsiveness from its physical stories to the online world in unique ways.To achieve this, the company works with Google Cloud. John Lewis Partnership first engaged with Google in 2014 to improve the way Partners worked together, on and off the shop floor, with productivity solutions from G Suite. More recently, the company created a centralized data platform with Google Cloud to break down data silos across the organisation, providing the foundation for a more omnichannel approach to customer insights and service.Today, the John Lewis Partnership is taking this even further, with new initiatives to help deliver great experiences for customers, whether on an app, website, or browsing in-store:  E-commerce transformation—John Lewis & Partners’ growing digital revenue streams  are underpinned by a popular website and a suite of mobile applications. However, as with any online business, staying relevant is key, and being able to run regular tests for content, layout, and user experience is a must. Working with Google Cloud, John Lewis & Partners is now building a better web experience for customers, including simpler internal processes to make changes, which is already paying dividends.Partnership Data Platform (PDP)—To grow a business that thrives for many years to come, John Lewis & Partners is building a data management platform on Google Cloud to automate decision-making and facilitate access to data across a much broader range of products. The platform serves as the basis for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) projects, allowing for more accurate customer insight and segmentation, and enabling smarter service and better experience. This is a long-term project, serving as the cornerstone of John Lewis & Partners digital transformation strategy.Andrew MacInnes, CTO of the John Lewis Partnership says: “Innovation is in our DNA. Our enduring strength is built on our uncompromising focus on the customer, for which we need a dynamic way of meeting changing expectations. We believe that the benefits of AI and ML have the ability to transform our business. Building this capability from the ground up would have been impossible for us, and this is why we needed Google Cloud as a partner. Google is helping us to continue innovating around the customer experience, enabled by the cloud.”The opportunities opened up by innovations in AI and ML also raised questions for John Lewis & Partners about how to align modern data science techniques with its people-centric culture. It was essential for new data initiatives to be implemented in an ethical and congruent way. “We describe this new approach as ‘human digital’; it’s not about replacing the personal qualities our customers like, but reinforcing them with intelligent use of data,” Andrew added.The company has large scale ambitions for its data platform. It wants to migrate more applications and data to Google cloud, and to increase the scope of AI-powered tools. “Fundamentally, we’re trying to put data at the heart of everything we do, supporting our business’ ability to operate over the next decade as the retail landscape shifts,” says Andrew. “Having Google Cloud on this journey with us means we’re able to move quickly while taking less risks and staying true to our company culture.” We look forward to supporting them in that journey.
Quelle: Google Cloud Platform