Google Cloud Exec: Be Flexible During Your Cloud Journey

Shifting to the cloud offers many advantages and there are several paths organizations can take on their journey to the cloud — but each company must evaluate which path is the correct one for it, according to Will Grannis, managing director of Google Cloud’s Office of the CTO.

“If you’re not already on your way to the cloud, you will be,” he said June 25, in a keynote during the Google Cloud online global digital conference “To the Cloud, Your Way.”

He pointed to research company Gartner’s suggestion that “the vast majority of you will also explore multi-cloud and hybrid architectures,” and told those watching the online conference: “That’s our experience here as well … . You’ll be looking for flexibility. You’ll be looking for adaptability. You need a cloud that fits the choices you make — not a cloud that forces you into choices that are sub-optimal for what you’re trying to build and enable.”

He started the presentation with a story about one company’s journey to the cloud, saying Jean-Michel Lemieux, CTO and head of engineering at Shopify, visited Mountain View about three years ago. “We had a conversation around his business’ aspirations – the strategy; how technology would be a key enabler for their journey to scale out [what was] already a very successful business [and one] with a significant amount of infrastructure on-prem.”

Lemieux “knew that the future [was] in the cloud, so over the last few years,” he explored how cloud infrastructure “could be useful to Shopify — how they could move apps and services to the cloud — sometimes taking them as is, sometimes modernizing and sometimes building completely new,” Grannis said.

Shopify made its journey to the cloud and then we “fast forward” to last Black Friday/Cyber Monday, when Shopify “ran over 10 percent of the world’s e-commerce traffic through their platform,” Grannis said, noting that traffic included shops ranging from name brands to newcomers — all powered by the e-commerce and hosting platform that Lemieux and his team built.

“That’s the potential of a journey to cloud, and that’s what flexibility can give all of you,” Grannis told viewers.

Meanwhile, “we all know that there have been some classic trade-offs in information technology,” he went on to say. One trade-off has long been security versus agility, he said, explaining: “Everybody wants agility, but making a lot of changes in a short amount of time can also potentially cause security concerns for you, your stakeholders and your customers.” While it’s often important to move fast and deploy, it must still be done in a “thoughtful, assured way,” he said.

In IT, “we need to make sure that we’ve evaluated, tested and researched fully all of these options to make sure that making a fast change doesn’t break something much more fundamental to the business or our customers,” he stressed.

Another classic trade-off has been reliability versus cost, he said, pointing out companies are often trying to forecast the future. “Your businesses can’t wait for a server or storage or networking to respond,” he said, adding: “They have to be ready when customers are demanding services and products from you.”

The third classic trade-off has been portability versus consistency, he said, noting: “Every company that I know — every company I work with [and] every company I’ve worked in — has some strategy about how to work better together across” the various lines of its business so that all the functions come together to “maximize the potential of the business and to realize the largest gains possible.”

While “it’s a lot more fun working together,” he noted that many considerations still need to be made each day and “we believe that you shouldn’t have to trade portability and consistency — so we’ve enabled many different paths” at Google Cloud, he said.

“Many organizations start with the cloud by moving a workload or moving an application or moving a service from on-prem to the cloud,” he said, noting that “lift and shift educates the organization around how cloud performs, what you can count on, things that need to change in your people [or] process — considerations far beyond technology.”

As a result, “we see a lot of organizations at the very beginning looking to lift and shift as much for educational purposes, for their own organization and to understand the realm of the possible in the cloud as for any material benefit,” he told viewers.

“Where things really start to get interesting is where you move from the lift and shift of those workloads into modernizing your applications, your services, your IT infrastructure,” he said, noting: “Generally speaking, over time, we see people building new applications in the cloud natively.”

However, regardless of what path on the journey to the cloud one’s organization decides to take, “there’s a place for you in Google Cloud,” he said.