Google Cloud Next: Google Finally Joins the Serverless Ranks, but Enterprises Aren’t Interested Yet

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Google announced the general availability of Cloud Functions, but are enterprises ready for serverless computing?
  • • The Google Cloud Build app development environment supports the increased demand for CICD among enterprises.

Google announced general availability of its serverless platform, Cloud Functions, during last week’s Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco. The growing phenomenon of serverless computing pits Google most squarely against cloud rivals AWS Lambda and Microsoft Azure Functions. Google’s serverless solution, founded on App Engine, runs alongside its Cloud Services Platform and offers new runtimes, additional languages, and enhanced performance, networking, and security features.

Despite Google’s push into serverless computing, customers are expressing ongoing difficulty around new app development architectures including microservices and serverless computing. On the eve of Google Next and right down the street from the Moscone Convention Center, CNCF and Redpoint Ventures hosted a gathering with high-profile startups and cloud technology giants featuring discussions around the future of serverless computing. Interestingly enough, operations experts overseeing their companies’ application development/deployment unanimously agreed that while serverless computing is a compelling concept, they’re nowhere near being able to tackle its complexities and implement the modern app development architecture. Attendees from Pinterest, Tesla, Lyft, and Nordstrom basically concurred it was all they could do to get their arms around containerization of monolithic apps, forget about adopting microservices and serverless computing environments. A Pinterest IT operations expert noted that his team, which is responsible for managing multiple APIs, struggles with how to break them apart into microservices. Google sought to address these issues last week, for example, via a new service mesh based on OSS microservices management technology Istio, along with Apigee API Management for Istio.

Google rival Amazon is more strongly entrenched in serverless computing technology. AWS’s application development arsenal includes its popular Lambda serverless offering, alongside Fargate container management and SageMaker machine learning (please see: “AWS Summit 2018: Amazon Targets Enterprise Developers for App Cloud Migration via ML, Serverless Computing,” April 6, 2018).

Attending the same serverless event, a Tesla IT administrator noted that while the AWS solution is appropriate for startups seeking cloud-native environments, it’s less practical for Tesla, which has made significant investments in traditional application platforms solutions.

In addition to its serverless focus, Google also announced a new Google Services platform to support enterprise hybrid clouds, not surprisingly shored up by Google-backed Kubernetes to ease the management of apps in hybrid environments. Added to that is a new app development environment called Google Cloud Build, comprising build and test management tools including automation, workflow controls, and vulnerability analysis. Cloud Build is about supporting increased demand for CICD among enterprises, while Google’s newest tools strive to reduce the complexities associated with moving towards a DevOps model of application development.

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