My Takeaways from Google Cloud Next24


Attending Google Cloud Next ‘24 was another remarkable experience, filled with learning and networking opportunities. As a tech leader, I’m excited to share the insights gained and the strategic decisions we’re making for our technical roadmap. This post is for my fellow CTOs and tech leaders who are looking to be inspired and to inspire their teams.

A Shared Journey in Las Vegas : Connecting, Learning and Staying Active

One of the highlights of Google Cloud Next ‘24 was the invaluable opportunity to attend with my colleague Michael ( aka Misha ), our SRE/DevOps Team lead. Sharing the excitement and vision for future innovations made the experience even more enriching. This camaraderie underscores the unique value of participating in such events together.

In addition to the enriching sessions, the event facilitated meaningful connections with other tech leaders. The informal conversations and networking opportunities proved just as insightful as the formal presentations, helping us to gather diverse perspectives and plan strategically for the future.

On a lighter note, the conference also served as an unexpected physical workout! Over the span of three days, I logged more than 50 kilometers just moving between sessions—13km on Tuesday, 18km on Wednesday, and 17km on Thursday. It’s a different kind of data tracking, but one that we tech enthusiasts certainly appreciate!

A Strategic Approach to AI and Technological Adoption

The event showcased a staggering 218 announcements, highlighting the vast array of possibilities and innovations in the cloud computing, AI, and software development landscape. With so much to explore, it’s crucial to focus on what truly matters for our organizations.

While I’m a big fan of AI and its transformative potential, I also recognize the importance of being strategic and selective in the adoption. With a deluge of announcements, it’s more important than ever to focus on the areas that align with our goals and are realistically implementable.

However, it’s crucial to remember that AI is just one piece of the technological puzzle. As we embrace the advancements in AI, we must also ensure that we don’t neglect other areas of technology that require our attention. There’s a risk of falling into an ‘AI overdose,’ where the excitement around AI’s capabilities could lead us to overlook other equally important technological developments.

As I often remind my team, wisely considering the full spectrum of emerging technologies allows us to develop a stronger and more comprehensive technical roadmap.

My Top 10 Key Takeaways

The event was packed with sessions, and after careful consideration, here are the most impactful takeaways that align with our strategic goals and have the potential to significantly influence our vision.

Security and Compliance

  1. GKE Threat Detection: Part of the GKE Enterprise offering, this new feature provides real-time threat detection, which is crucial for the security of our containerized workloads.

  2. IAM Principal Access Boundary: Currently in preview, this feature offers a new way to enforce principal-centric access controls, enhancing our security posture.

  3. Organization Restrictions: This feature will allow us to implement access restrictions to our Google Cloud resources, providing an additional layer of security.

Storage and Data Management

  1. Hierarchical Namespace Buckets in Cloud Storage: This feature is designed to optimize storage for file-oriented and data-intensive workloads, and it allows granular IAM permissions.

Service Mesh and Networking

  1. Cloud Service Mesh: This managed service mesh, combines Traffic Director (TD) and Anthos Service Mesh (ASM). As a team heavily invested in Istio, we’re curious about Cloud Service Mesh’s potential.

DevOps and CI/CD Enhancements

  1. GitLab and Google Cloud Integration: The public beta of GitLab’s integrations with Google Cloud, including Artifact Registry and Workload Identity Federation, is set to streamline our CI/CD pipelines.

  2. Apache Kafka for BigQuery as a managed service is in preview. I am particularly intrigued by this one and eager to see how Google Cloud will price the managed service.

AI and Machine Learning

  1. The Vertex AI Agent Builder, currently in preview, designed to help us build generative AI experiences. The reality is that Vertex AI Agent Builder is an expansion and rebranding of Vertex AI Search and Conversation with the support of open source frameworks like Langchain.

  2. Gemini 1.5 Pro is now available in public preview, leveraging a massive 1.5 million token context window for superior reasoning and information processing.

  3. The launch of Deploy on Google Cloud, a new integration on the Hugging Face Hub to deploy thousands of foundation models easily to Google Cloud using Vertex AI or Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

Next Steps for Our Team

As we navigate the exciting yet complex landscape revealed at Google Cloud Next ‘24, it’s important to remember that our technological train is already in motion. Integrating new innovations requires careful consideration of our current velocity and the capacity of our team to manage additional changes without derailing ongoing projects.

  • Implementing IAM Enhancements: The setup of Organization Restrictions and Principal Access Boundaries is imperative for bolstering our security. These will be prioritized based on the readiness of our infrastructure to support them, ensuring that our security train adds new cars carefully and methodically.

  • Adopting New GCS Features: The introduction of Hierarchical Namespace Buckets promises enhanced access control, which is crucial for our data management strategies. We will plan a gradual integration, ensuring it integrates seamlessly with our current storage solutions and does not disrupt our operational momentum.

  • Assessing GKE Enterprise: The GKE Threat Detection feature is a significant enhancement for our security posture. I’m particularly interested in exploring the comprehensive dashboards that come with GKE Enterprise. However, we’ll proceed with caution, keeping a close eye on the pricing to ensure it aligns with our budget and provides a cost-effective solution for our needs.

  • Evaluating GitLab’s New Features: We are keen to explore the potential of GitLab Duo and the integration of Gitlab-Ci with Google Cloud. A key aspect of this integration is the Workload Identity Federation, which has been highlighted for its role in securely managing authentication between GitLab and Google Cloud services. This feature reduces our reliance on traditional service account keys, enhancing security and streamlining our operations.

Wrapping Up

Google Cloud Next ‘24 was an inspiring event, filled with learning opportunities and connections that will fuel our technical roadmap for the future. By adopting a lean approach, we aim to make informed decisions and hope to successfully integrate the most valuable innovations into our organization. However, we recognize that integrating new features is not always straightforward and requires careful planning and execution.

I hope this post has given you a glimpse into the event and sparked ideas for your own technical roadmap.