So, I spent a week at Google Next

On July 26th, 2018, I officially wrapped up at Google Next.

I feel Googley. Googlier. Googliest. Whatever.

I do not know exactly how to describe it but the vibe from Google Next. All I know is that it was different than other conferences. Like all corporate sponsored conferences, there was a salesy vibe, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The Google presenters and participants seemed to genuinely care about what they were creating on Google Cloud – and yes the focus was on “creation”. At the same time, there was a high-level of confidence. One that almost bordered on the line of arrogance. Whether justifiable or not. I can’t say.

So, what did I learn?

AI is real. And it is driven by Google. Or so that is what I was told over….and over….and over. No matter what the topic of the session was, somehow artificial intelligence was introduced. SAP…..AI. Gaming…..AI. Enterprise Compute…….AI. It is possible that if intelligence wasn’t included in the subject matter then it didn’t make it to prime time. Don’t get me wrong. This is one of the topics that drew me to the event in the first place and is also something that intrigues me. When I listen to the Googlers talk about AI, I get the warm fuzzy feeling that it is finally here. Not like SkyNet here but here in the sense that it is mature enough to improve lives and the nature of work.

I am out of touch with techno music trends. Also known as EDM (Electronic Dance Music). I thought I knew who the Chain Smokers were. Then I didn’t. Then I did. And then I didn’t. There is something about modern DJ’s that I enjoy and yet find so forgettable. I remember the 90’s and 00’s techno scene. Paul Oakenfold. DJ Tiesto. Benny Benassi, Basement Jaxx. Those were my Jam. These days I can’t seem to recall any of the popular DJ’s. I recognize the music obviously but if you asked me who was who I would have to go check the Billboard 100 to trace down the name. Assuming that Billboard 100 is still a thing. As much as I love music, I am not an avid follower like I once was. To me it is just background noise for other activities. I love to listen to EDM, but not enough to care about who the artist is. Sorry not sorry. Chainsmokers were great though on a more positive note.

San Francisco summers can get cold. Like sweater vest cold. I thought, that July in San Francisco would be hot, so I planned my wardrobe accordingly. Huge mistake. When I first arrived, and saw many of my colleagues dressed in their finest Silicon Valley chic fleece vests I should have caught the hint that I needed to go to the store and buy something warm. For the most part I toughed out the cold. Even on those sunny days where you look out your window and said “ah, today is an 80-degree day, t-shirt and shorts it is”, you need to resist – but only in San Francisco. Beautiful place. Weather is strange.

Image result for jared silicon valley sweater vest

Keynotes are physically and emotionally difficult to get into On the first day, I decided not to go to the keynote and instead holed up at a Starbucks near the conference complex to watch the event via live stream on my phone. Typically, I find these sessions seem to be giant product launch events where the company releases all their latest and greatest services – Google Next didn’t disappoint in that regard. I don’t typically find the portfolio of services interesting unless I have proper context on how to actually use those services to create new solutions. The visionary work seems to only be relegated to a few so keynotes are often hit or miss. On the second day, I was running a little late and tried to get into a keynote. Forget about it. I was rejected and sent to the alternative building to watch on live feed. No thanks. My advice on key notes is to go to the ones if you already have an initial hypothesis of what types of services you want to learn more about and have the wherewithal to determine how they suit your needs. My needs right now are de minimis so I just wanted to learn about cool innovations.

Google unveiled the Gavin Belson Box. One of the highlights from the event was a Kubernetes box that Google unveiled to allow enterprises to transfer containers between on-premise and off-premise data centers. As I recall, the idea is that this box could sit in the client data center and help ensure a seamless experience between locations. Sound familiar? It did to me as well. As soon as I heard this the only thing I could think of was the Gavin Belson box from Silicon Valley. I chuckled a bit like an adult child. Then watched the video below. And chuckled again. Google officially unveiled the box and no-one flinched. Too funny. And a little disappointing.

Overall, the event was a lot of fun. The perfect amount of time at about 3 days split between client testimonials, client solutions, architecture, and engineering. Unlike AWS Re:Invent where it was blatant that everyone in attendance was in super sales mode, Google Next was a bit subtler and pure with its objective. I enjoyed that.

Instead of running around to sessions for my next conference. I think I am just going to sit tight in the corporate booth and network. It seemed like the way to go. I may also spend a little time presenting / demoing A few tools that I am working on professionally.

Be on the lookout for my write up at the end of November.

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