Google announced Thursday that state-sponsored Chinese and Iranian hackers targeted campaign staff of both Joe Biden and President Donald Trump in recent election attacks.
In a series of posts on Twitter, Shane Huntley, director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG), detailed the recent attempts by advanced persistent threat (APT) groups to compromise both presidential campaigns through phishingattacks, which he said were unsuccessful.
“Recently TAG saw China APT group targeting Biden campaign staff and Iran APT targeting Trump campaign staff with phishing. No sign of compromise. We sent users our govt attack warning and we referred to fed law enforcement,” Huntley wrote on Twitter.
In addition to confirming the attempted attacks, Huntley also attributed the activity to APT31, a Chinese hacking group also known as Zirconium, and APT35, Iranian hackers also known as Newscaster Team.
A spokesperson from Google verified the hacking attempt in an email to SearchSecurity.
“We can confirm that our Threat Analysis Group recently saw phishing attempts from a Chinese group targeting the personal email accounts of Biden campaign staff and an Iranian group targeting the personal email accounts of Trump campaign staff. We didn’t see evidence that these attempts were successful. We sent the targeted users our standard government-backed attack warning and we referred this information to federal law enforcement. We encourage campaign staff to use extra protection for their work and personal emails, and we offer security resources such as our Advanced Protection Program and free security keys for qualifying campaigns.”
Phishing has been a major vector in previous election campaign attacks as well. For example, John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, fell victim to a phishing attackprior to the election.
An investigation by Atlanta-based cybersecurity firm SecureWorks Inc. uncovered a malicious link created with the Bitly URL-shortening service used by hackers to gain access to Podesta’s Gmail account. The Bitly account used to create the link was connected to a domain controlled by the Russian state-sponsored APT group known as Fancy Bear.
Google Cloud users can now run VMware Cloud Foundation workloads, thanks to a new managed service deal between the two companies.
The service, dubbed Google Cloud VMware Engine, builds upon the company’s existing VMware offering. VMware users can run VMware’s full Cloud Foundation stack on dedicated bare-metal servers provided by Google. The Cloud Foundation stack includes VMware vSphere, vCenter, vSAN, NSX-T and HCX.
Last July the two companies signed a deal that allowed VMware users to run workloads natively on Google Cloud, which gave VMware users an alternative to AWS. As part of that deal, CloudSimple administered the platform running on Google Cloud with Google-provided first-line support.
Google subsequently acquired CloudSimple in November. The new Google Cloud VMware Engine service offers unified billing, a UI within the Google Cloud console, and integrations with native Google Cloud services such as BigQuery, Anthos and Cloud AI. Google handles lifecycle management of the Cloud Foundation stack.
CloudSimple’s technology has also powered Microsoft Azure’s similar VMware service. This month, Microsoft delivered a preview of the “next evolution” of that service but offered few specifics on what will change. “Our newly announced service Azure VMware Solution does not use CloudSimple, but the Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple continues to be a Microsoft Azure GA service backed by Microsoft SLAs,” Microsoft said in a statement.
It makes sense for Google to aggressively go after VMware workloads, as each company has complementary positions in a number of markets, said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC in Gilford, N.H.
“Google Cloud needs more enterprise traction and VMware needs to get with more cloud partners, and it doesn’t upset any existing relationship they have with other [cloud partners],” he said.
Another reason Google is strengthening its relationship with VMware is the anticipated hit Google will take over the next couple of quarters to its advertising revenues because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They will be looking more toward their cloud business to generate more earnings as a way to compensate,” Gardner said.
The downside of VMware cloud choices
While enterprises now have their pick of VMware hosting options among the cloud hyperscalers, this is a case where choice can lead to complexity, analysts said.
They point to the added administrative costs users take on in introducing another cloud platform in their environment along with the time it takes to get C-suite level approval. Given the technical similarities among the top three cloud providers, the bureaucratic headaches may not be worth the trouble.
“It gives VMware users an option, but how rich an opportunity is it for Google with many VMware users already deploying multiple clouds?” said Brian Kirsch, an IT architect and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College. “Also, with just one cloud provider, sometimes it’s easier for IT organizations to have all their cloud billing in one place.”
“Amazon has never looked stronger and Microsoft is also doing very well financially,” Gardner said. “So, other [cloud] players in the field looking to become number three, now is the time to get really aggressive because this opportunity may not be there later on,” he said.
Another analyst sees both the advantages and disadvantages for VMware shops incorporating Google Cloud, especially if they already support one of Google’s competitors.
“A lot of companies have selected Google for a particular set of reasons, so getting VMware for another cloud can be a hassle,” said Gary Chen, research director, overseeing IDC’s software-defined compute practice. “But Google has some pretty unique capabilities in the area of AI, so you can run VMware workloads and still access those Google services to work in your VMware environment.”
The Google Cloud VMware Engine rollout begins with availability limited to two U.S. regions today. Eight more around the world will be added in the second half of the year, according to Google.
An upcoming price change to Google Kubernetes Engine isn’t sitting well with some users of the managed container service, but analysts said Google’s move is well within reason.
As of June 6, Google will charge customers a cluster management fee of $0.10 per hour, regardless of the cluster’s size or topology. Each customer billing account will receive one free zonal cluster, and the new management fee doesn’t apply to clusters run as part of Anthos, Google’s cross-platform container orchestration service.
Along with the management fee, however, Google is also introducing a service-level agreement (SLA) for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). It promises 99.95% availability for regional clusters and 99.5% on zonal clusters, assuming they use a version from Google’s stable release channel, according to the price change announcement.
Google’s decision did not sit well with some users, who voiced complaints on social media.
Having slept on it, the changes to #gke makes me furious. This is maybe the worst decision Google has made as a company, and I cannot overstate this enough, that is saying a lot. This is a master class on how to trade trust for money, badly. The justifications are just not there
Others disagreed. The planned fee for Google Kubernetes Engine is reasonable, said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC. “The fact is that Kubernetes control plane management is getting more complex and Google is constantly improving it, so there is a lot of value-add there,” he said. “Plus, as more critical workloads get deployed on containers, service levels become important and that will take some effort and investment, so it’s not unreasonable to ask for a fee for enterprise-level SLAs.”
A longer-term solution for Google could be to offer a lower-cost or free tier for those who don’t need all the features or the SLA, Chen added. “I think we’ll definitely see that in cloud container pricing in the future,” he said. “More tiers, feature add-ons, etc., to satisfy all segments of the market.”
Google previously had a management fee of $0.15 per hour for large clusters but dropped it in November 2017. The price addition coming in June will bring GKE into parity with Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service; AWS cut the cluster management fee for EKS to $0.10 per hour in January, down from $0.20 per hour.
Although measured in pennies per hour, the cluster management fees amount to about $72 a month per cluster, a sum that can add up fast in larger implementations. The question Google Cloud customers must weigh now is whether the fee is worth it compared to other options.
Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service is one, as it doesn’t currently carry any cluster management fees. But customers would have to do a close comparison of what Azure charges for the compute resources supporting managed containers, as opposed to Google, AWS and other providers.
Another alternative would be to self-manage clusters, but that would require analysis of whether doing so would be desirable in terms of staff time and training.
Above all, Google would undoubtedly like more adoption of Anthos, which became generally available in April 2019. The platform encompasses a software stack much broader than GKE and is priced accordingly. Anthos is the company’s primary focus in its bid to gain market share against Azure and AWS and represents Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s intent to get more large enterprise customers aboard.
“The cloud wars are intense and revenue matters,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif. The cluster management pricing could be viewed as some “gentle pressure” on customers to adopt Anthos, he added.
Google has added a new managed service called Secret Manager to its cloud platform amid a climate increasingly marked by high-profile data breaches and exposures.
Secret Manager, now in beta, builds on existing Google Cloud security services by providing a central place to store and manage sensitive data such as API keys or passwords.
The system employs the principle of least privilege, meaning only a project’s owners can look at secrets without explicitly granted permissions, Google said in a blog post. Secret Manager works in conjunction with the Cloud Audit Logging service to create access audit trails. These data sets can then be moved into anomaly detection systems to check for breaches and other abnormalities.
All data is encrypted in transit and at rest with AES-256-level encryption keys. Google plans to add support for customer-managed keys later on, according to the blog.
Scott PiperAWS security consultant, Summit Route
Google Cloud customers have been able to manage sensitive data prior to now with Berglas, an open source project that runs from the command line, whereas Secret Manager adds a layer of abstraction through a set of APIs.
Berglas can be used on its own going forward, as well as directly through Secret Manager beginning with the recently released 0.5.0 version, Google said. Google also offers a migration tool for moving sensitive data out of Berglas and into Secret Manager.
Secret Manager builds on the existing Google Cloud security lineup, which also includes Key Management Service, Cloud Security Command Center and VPC Service Controls.
With Secret Manager, Google has introduced its own take on products such as HashiCorp Vault and AWS Secrets Manager, said Scott Piper, an AWS security consultant at Summit Route in Salt Lake City.
A key management service is used to keep an encryption key and perform encryption operations, Piper said. “So, you send them data, and they encrypt them. A secrets manager, on the other hand, is really no different than a database, but just with more audit logs and access checking. You request a piece of data from it — such as your database password — and it returns it back to you. The purpose of these solutions is to avoid keeping secrets in code.”
Indeed, Google’s Key Management Service targets two different audiences within enterprise IT, said Doug Cahill, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.
“The former is focused on managing the lifecycle of data encryption keys, while the latter is focused on securing the secrets employed to securely operate API-driven infrastructure-as-code environments,” Cahill said.
As such, data security and privacy professionals and compliance officers are the likely consumers of a key management offering, whereas secret management services are targeted toward DevOps, Cahill added.
Meanwhile, it is surprising that the Google Cloud security portfolio didn’t already have something like Secret Manager, but AWS only released its own version in mid-2018, Piper said. Microsoft released Azure Key Vault in 2015 and has positioned it as appropriate for managing both encryption keys and other types of sensitive data.
Pricing for Secret Manager during the beta period is calculated two ways: Google charges $0.03 per 10,000 operations, and $0.06 per active secret version per regional replica, per month.
Google Cloud has introduced a Premium Support option designed to appeal to large enterprises through features such as 15-minute response times for critical issues.
Premium Support customers will be serviced by “context-aware experts who understand your unique application stack, architecture and implementation details,” said Atul Nanda, vice president of cloud support.
These experts will coordinate with a customer’s assigned technical account manager to resolve issues faster and in a more personalized manner, Nanda said in a blog post.
Google wanted to expand its support offerings beyond what basic plans for Google Cloud and G Suite include, according to Nanda. Other Premium Support features include operational health reviews, training, preview access to new products and more help with third-party technologies.
In contrast, Google’s other support options range from a free tier that provides help with only billing issues; Development, which costs $100 per user per month, with a four-hour response time; and Production, which costs $250 per user per month and has a one-hour response time.
Premium Support carries a base annual fee of $150,000 plus 4% of the customer’s net spending on Google Cloud Platform and/or G Suite. Google is also working on add-on services for Premium Support, such as expanded technical account manager coverage and mission-critical support, which involves a site reliability engineering consulting engagement. The latter is now in pilot.
Cloud changes the support equation
Customers with on-premises software licenses are used to paying stiff annual maintenance fees, which give them updates, bug fixes and technical support. On-premises maintenance fees can generate profit margins for vendors north of 90%, consuming billions of IT budget dollars that could have been spent on better things, said Duncan Jones, an analyst at Forrester.
Grant KirkwoodCTO, Unitas Global
“But customers of premium support offerings such as Microsoft Unified (fka Premier) Support and SAP MaxAttention express much higher satisfaction levels with value for money,” Jones said via email. “They are usually an alternative to similar services that the vendor’s SI and channel partners offer, so there is competition that drives up standards. Plus, they are optional extras so price/demand sensitivity keeps pricing at reasonable levels.” On the whole, Google’s move to add Premium Support is positive for customers, according to Jones.
But it’s clear why Google did it from a business perspective, said Grant Kirkwood, CTO of Unitas Global, a hybrid cloud services provider in Los Angeles. “Google is recognizing they need to move up the stack in terms of support to make further inroads into the enterprise space,” he said.
Microsoft today probably has the most robust support in terms of a traditional enterprise look-and-feel, while AWS’ approach is geared a bit more toward DevOps-centric shops, Kirkwood added.
“[Google is] taking a bit out of both playbooks,” he said. Premium Support could appeal to enterprises that have already done easier lift-and-shift projects to the cloud and are now rebuilding or creating new cloud-native applications, according to Kirkwood.
But as with anything, Google will have to prove its Premium Support option is worth the extra money.
“Successful [support] plans require great customer success management, highly trained technical account managers and AI-driven case management,” said Ray Wang, founder and CEO of Constellation Research.
NEW YORK — Google made a pitch to chain-store brands this week, taking on Microsoft Azure and AWS with a bundle of fresh Google Cloud retail hosting and services, backing it up with blue-chip customers.
In sessions at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian and Carrie Tharp, retail and consumer vice president, wooed retailers with promises of AI, uptime and search expertise — including voice and video, in addition to traditional text content — as well as store employee collaboration tools.
Home improvement chain Lowe’s said it will embark on a multiyear plan to rebuild its customer experience, both in-store and online, with Google Cloud at its center. Lowe’s plans to spend $500 million per year through 2021 on the project.
Kohl’s, Ulta Beauty’s business drivers
“Customers expect retailers to be as good with their tech as they are with their physical stores,” said Paul Gaffney, CTO of Kohl’s. The 1,060-store chain launched a major overhaul of its digital customer experience and IT infrastructure in 2018 with Google Cloud retail services, and plans to migrate 70% of its apps into Google Anthos.
Retailers need cloud services that create value for their brands among its customers, Gaffney said, but uptime and scalability is also a major consideration during peak selling times.
“The big rush of business used to be Black Friday, last year was the Cyber Five [Thanksgiving until the following Monday], and now seems like the months of November and December,” Gaffney said in a session with Kurian. “Folks who have been doing this a long time know that we all used to provision a lot of gear that lay idle other than during that period.”
Ulta Beauty, which operates 1,124 stores, chose the Google Cloud Platform for its Ulta Rewards loyalty program hosting and customer data handling, said Michelle Pacynski, vice president of digital innovation at Ulta. The program has 33.9 million members and drives 95% of Ulta’s sales, she added.
Ulta chose Google in part for its data, analytics and personalization platform, Pacynski said. But data ownership also weighed heavily in the decision.
“We looked at the usual subjects, who you would think we would look at,” Pacynski said. “Ultimately for us, we wanted to own our data, we wanted to have power over our data. We evaluated everybody and looked at how we could remain more autonomous with our data.”
Google Cloud retail taking on Azure, AWS
Google’s charge into the retail space started last year with the introduction of retail-specific services to manage customer loyalty, store operations, inventory and product lifecycle management. At NRF 2020, Google added search, AI and hosting services to that stack. It’s part of Google’s bigger push into verticals, Tharp said.
Carrie TharpRetail and consumer vice president, Google Cloud
“[Google] Cloud started as an infrastructure-as-a-service play,” Tharp said. “Really, where we see the future of cloud capabilities is in industry-specific solutions — having a deep understanding of the industry and building products specific to that. We’re constructing our entire organization around these industry-specific solutions.”
Tharp and some industry experts at NRF said that some retailers harbor resentment toward Amazon as a competitor and are looking for cloud partners other than AWS for future projects. But that is changing, as stores realize that offering Amazon-like speed of delivery and customer service in general is a more important business priority than beating Amazon.
Still, there’s enough anti-Amazon sentiment among retailers that Google has an opportunity to expand its foothold, said Sheryl Kingstone, 451 Research analyst.
“We’re seeing Google Cloud Platform pop up as one of the strategic vendors retailers are looking for in their digital transformations,” Kingstone said. “Azure is up there, and AWS is the 800-pound gorilla. But in the retail space, there’s that opportunity of stealing away someone who is very concerned about being on AWS.”
Google has acquired low-code app development vendor AppSheet in a bid to up its cloud platform’s appeal among line-of-business users and tap into a hot enterprise IT trend.
Like similar offerings, AppSheet ingests data from sources such as Excel spreadsheets, Smartsheet and Google Sheets. Users apply views to the data — such as charts, tables, maps, galleries and calendars — and then develop workflows with AppSheet’s form-based interface. The apps run on Android, iOS and within browsers.
AppSheet, based in Seattle, already integrated with G Suite and other Google cloud sources, as well as Office 365, Salesforce, Box and other services. The company will continue to support and improve those integrations following the Google acquisition, AppSheet CEO Praveen Seshadri said in a blog post.
“Our core mission is unchanged,” Seshadri said. “We want to ‘democratize’ app development by enabling as many people as possible to build and distribute applications without writing a line of code.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the price tag for the low-code app development startup is likely far less than Google’s $2.6 billion acquisition of data visualization vendor Looker in June 2019.
Under the leadership of former longtime Oracle executive Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud was expected to make a series of deals to shore up its position in the cloud computing market, where it trails AWS and Microsoft by significant percentages.
So far, Kurian has not made moves to buy core enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM, two markets dominated by the likes of SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. Rather, the AppSheet purchase reflects Google Cloud’s perceived strength in application development, but with a gesture toward nontraditional coders.
As for why Google chose AppSheet to boost its low-code/no-code strategy, one reason could be the dwindling number of options. In the past couple of years, several prominent low-code/no-code vendors became acquisition targets. Notable examples include Siemens’ August 2018 purchase of Mendix for $730 million, and more recently, Swiss banking software provider Temenos’ move to buy Kony in a $559 million deal.
It’s not as if Google, Siemens and Temenos made a long shot bet, either. A survey released last year by Forrester Research, based on data collected in late 201, found that 23% of more than 3,000 developers surveyed reported their companies were already using low-code development platforms. In addition, another 22% indicated their organizations would buy into low-code within a year.
Low-code competition heightens
Google’s AppSheet buy pits it directly against cloud platform rival Microsoft, which has the citizen developer-targeted Power Apps low-code app development platform that has taken off like a rocket, said John Rymer, an analyst at Forrester. The acquisition of AppSheet also sets Google apart from cloud market share leader AWS, whose alleged super-secret low-code/no-code platform that was said to be under development by a team led by prominent development guru Adam Bosworth has yet to appear.
However, in AppSheet, Google is getting a winner, Rymer noted. “It’s a really good product and a really good team,” he said.
Moreover, the addition of AppSheet will help Google get more horsepower out of Apigee than just API management. The company wanted a broader platform with more functionality to address more customers and more use cases, Rymer said.
“So, I think they will be positioning this as a new platform anchored by Apigee,” he said. “Customers could use Apigee to create and publish APIs and AppSheet is how they would consume them. But they won’t stop there. They need process automation/workflow, so I would expect them to go there as well.”
Jeffrey HammondAnalyst, Forrester
Meanwhile, another key benefit Google gains from this acquisition is the integration that AppSheet already has with Google’s office productivity products, said Jeffrey Hammond, another Forrester analyst.
“G Suite has always felt a bit out of place to me at Google’s developer conferences, but it used to be one of the main ‘leads’ for the enterprise,” he said. “AppSheet gives Google the potential to craft a more cohesive story that integrates that with Google Cloud and Anthos in the future.”
Overall, this acquisition is yet another indication that low-code/no-code development has gone mainstream and the number of people building applications will continue to grow.
For Google, the unified communications market is a means to an end: keeping G Suite competitive with Microsoft’s Office 365. In 2020, Google plans to close in on the Microsoft suite’s core communication features by migrating businesses to Hangouts Chat, the messaging complement to G Suite’s calling and video conferencing apps.
In mid-2020, Hangouts Chat will replace an older, more basic chat app called Hangouts. While the new app is an improvement, Google will have to add features and build a much larger partner ecosystem to reach par with Office 365.
What’s more, Google’s strategy of maintaining separate products for core communications services is at odds with the direction of the market. Vendors like Microsoft have consolidated calling, messaging and meetings services into a single user interface. But Google is keeping Hangouts Chat distinct from the video conferencing app Hangouts Meet.
“Their challenges are more related to fundamentally who they are,” TJ Keitt, an analyst at Forrester Research, said. “They’re a company that, for a while, had struggled to indicate they understand all the things that large enterprises require.”
G Suite has trailed Office 365 for years. In particular, Google has struggled to appeal to organizations with thousands and tens of thousands of employees. Those customers often require complex feature sets, but Google likes to keep things simple.
“It’s really important for us to provide just really simple, delightful experiences that work,” Smita Hashim, manager of G Suite’s communications apps, said in December. “It’s not like we need every bell and whistle and every feature.”
In 2019, Google tackled low-hanging fruit that had been standing in the way of selling G Suite to customers with thousands of employees. Giving customers some control over where their data is stored was a significant change. Also, adding numerous IT controls and security backstops was critical to enterprises.
But Google does not appear interested in matching Office 365 feature-for-feature. Instead, analysts expect the company will seek to grow G Suite in 2020 and beyond by focusing on specific industries and kinds of companies.
“If Google plays the long game, they don’t need to really worry about whether or not they are beating Microsoft in a lot of the companies that are here right now,” Keitt said. Instead, Google can target new and adolescent companies that haven’t bought into Office 365.
Google’s targets will likely include the verticals of education and technology, as well as fast-growing businesses with a young workforce. The company has already won some big names. In 2019, G Suite added tech company Iron Mountain, with 26,000 employees, and Whirlpool, with 92,000 employees.
In 2020, Google needs to decide whether to get serious about building a communications portfolio on par with Microsoft’s. That would entail expanding the business calling service it launched this year, Google Voice for G Suite.
So far, the vendor has signaled it will keep the calling service simple. Whereas traditional telephony systems offer upwards of 200 features, Google opted for fewer than 20. The new year will likely bring only incremental changes, such as the certification of more desk phones.
“I think, incrementally, they are continuing to improve. They are trying to close the gap,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research. “What I haven’t seen Google really try to do is leapfrog the market.”
Nevertheless, the cloud productivity market is likely still a lucrative one for Google. As of February, 5 million organizations subscribed to G Suite, some paying as much as $25 per user, per month.
Google Cloud, a division that includes G Suite as well as the vendor’s infrastructure-as-a-service platform, was on track to generate $8 billion in annual revenue as of July.
“Being number two in a multi-billion-dollar [office productivity] market is fine,” said Jeffrey Mann, an analyst at Garter.
Citrix Workspace platform for Google Cloud is now generally available. In an announcement, Citrix said the move would simplify tasks for IT professionals and users alike by using micro apps and unifying tasks in a single work feed.
The partnership underscores Citrix’s commitment to keep its services agnostic to support its customers’ choice in cloud providers, according to analysts.
Eric Kenney, a senior product manager at Citrix, said IT professionals are, at present, responsible for wrangling a variety of disparate products. These applications may, for example, govern security, file synchronization, file sharing and virtual desktops, and all of them could have different portals and login screens. Citrix Workspace is designed to make it easier to administer a range of end-user computing applications.
“It’s really difficult to manage all of these different vendors and resources,” he said. “With Workspace, IT professionals are able to bring these solutions together, with one partner, to deliver them to users.”
Putting these solutions and the options to manage them in one place helps both desktop administrators and users, Kenney said.
Although Workspace provides a centralized place through which Citrix products, such as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, Citrix Virtual Desktops and Citrix ADC, may be launched, Kenney said the platform goes beyond that. The intent, he said, is to provide a home for whatever application a company wants to deliver to its users, including homegrown and cloud-hosted offerings.
One way Workspace acts to simplify employee workloads is through the use of micro apps, or small programs that can accomplish simple tasks quickly, according to Kenney.
“An analogy we use is the office copier; it has a ton of buttons on it,” he said, noting that, with knowledge of those functions, people can collate, print double-sided copies and perform any number of specialized tasks. Most people, though, only use the big green button. “That’s a way of looking at enterprise applications; you’re using them a lot, but only for a small sliver of their functionality.”
Employees approving an expense report, for example, typically must go into a separate application to review and OK the document. Kenney said that process is less streamlined than it could be and that micro apps can integrate multiple tasks of approving an expense report into one feed, enabling workers to accomplish in seconds what used to take minutes.
“You could review and approve [the report] and never have to leave Workspace,” he said.
Workspace’s new availability also provides Citrix greater integration with Google Cloud services, among them Google’s G Suite, a collection of productivity apps. Kenney said a new cloud service, Citrix Access Control, provides administrators additional control over user actions on Google Drive documents.
For example, if a malware link is inadvertently added to a document, the Access Control settings could ensure the link is opened in an isolated browser that is safely disposed of at the end of a user session. Access Control can also restrict “copy and paste” functionality in certain documents.
Workspace isn’t just for IT
Ulrik Christensen, principal infrastructure engineer at Oncology Venture, said Citrix services, including Workspace, have made things easier for his firm. The drug development company is a global operation with offices and labs in both Denmark and the U.S., and manufacturing operations in India.
“I have four to five people in the U.S., and they’re not even in the same office,” he said, adding that the complexity of supporting the different hardware they use, including Apple machines, Windows machines and Chromebooks, has proven difficult in the past.
Moving to the kind of standardized system offered by Citrix has improved the user experience and lessened the burden on IT, Christensen said.
“It’s a lot easier if something doesn’t work,” he said. “We can help because we know the whole platform… It also made it a lot easier for IT to provide users new applications and updates.”
Security had improved as well, Christensen said. With only one way to access the company’s network, it is at less risk and the firm can be more confident that its data is protected.
Citrix continues to support cloud choice
Andrew Hewitt, an analyst at Forrester Research, said the partnership with Google Cloud makes sense for Citrix, as it bolsters one of the key tenets of its pitch to customers.
“Citrix’s core messaging is around experience, choice and security,” he said. “This announcement sits squarely in its desire to be an agnostic player in the [end-user computing market] that can enable enterprises to pick and choose whatever technologies they want to deploy to their end users.”
Andrew HewittAnalyst, Forrester Research
The move, Hewitt said, seems like a logical extension of past partnerships with Google.
“For example, Citrix has full API access to manage Chromebooks; it supports all the management models for Android Enterprise and provides Citrix Receiver for virtualization support on Chromebooks,” he said. “This announcement is just further deepening of the relationship with Google.”
Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Mark Bowker said the partnership is good for Google as well.
“Google is trying to make inroads into the enterprise,” he said, noting pushes with Chromebooks and the Chrome browser.
Bowker added, though, that enterprises must still interact with Windows frequently. By working with Citrix, then, Google can provide its users with easier access to Windows-based services.
Citrix recognizes the importance of being able to provide its services on its customers’ cloud of choice, including a recent announcement of deeper ties with AWS. Still, its closest ties are with Microsoft, Bowker said. “The strength of their integration is ultimately with Microsoft, and always has been,” he said.
Google has introduced bare-metal cloud deployment options geared for legacy applications such as SAP, for which customers require high levels of performance along with deeper virtualization controls.
“[Bare metal] is clearly an area of focus of Google,” and one underscored by its recent acquisition of CloudSimple for running VMware workloads on Google Cloud, said Deepak Mohan, an analyst at IDC.
IBM, AWS and Azure have their own bare-metal cloud offerings, which allow them to support an ESXi hypervisor installation for VMware, and Bare Metal Solution will apparently underpin CloudSimple’s VMware service on Google, Mohan added.
But Google will also be able to support other workloads that can benefit from bare metal availability, such as machine learning, real-time analytics, gaming and graphical rendering. Bare-metal cloud instances also avert the “noisy neighbor” problem that can crop up in virtualized environments as clustered VMs seek out computing resources, and do away with the general hit to performance known commonly as the “hypervisor tax.”
Google’s bare-metal cloud instances offer a dedicated interconnect to customers and tie into all native Google Cloud services, according to a blog post. The hardware has been certified to run “multiple enterprise applications,” including ones built on top of Oracle’s database, Google said.
Oracle, which lags far behind in the IaaS market, has sought to preserve some of those workloads as customers move to the cloud.
Deepak MohanAnalyst, IDC
Earlier this year, it formed a cloud interoperability partnership with Microsoft, pushing a use case wherein customers could run enterprise application logic and presentation tiers on Azure infrastructure, while tying back to an Oracle database running on bare-metal servers or specialized Exadata hardware in Oracle’s cloud.
Not all competitive details laid bare
Overall, bare-metal cloud is a niche market, but by some estimates it is growing quickly.
Among hyperscalers such as AWS, Google and Microsoft, the battleground is in early days, with AWS only making its bare-metal offerings generally available in May 2018. Microsoft has mostly positioned bare metal for memory-intensive workloads such as SAP HANA, while also offering it underneath CloudSimple’s VMware service for Azure.
Meanwhile, Google’s bare-metal cloud service is fully managed by Google, provides a set of provisioning tools for customers, and will have unified billing with other Google Cloud services, according to the blog.
How smoothly this all works together could be a key differentiator for Google in comparison with rival bare-metal providers. Management of bare-metal machines can be more granular than traditional IaaS, which can mean increased flexibility as well as complexity.
Google’s Bare Metal Solution instances are based on x86 systems that range from 16 cores with 384 GB of DRAM, to 112 cores with 3,072 GB of DRAM. Storage comes in 1 TB chunks, with customers able to choose between all-flash or a mix of storage types. Google also plans to offer custom compute configurations to customers with that need.
It also remains to be seen how price-competitive Google is on bare metal compared with competitors, which includes providers such as Packet, CenturyLink and Rackspace.
The company didn’t immediately provide costs for Bare Metal Solution instances, but said the hardware can be purchased via monthly subscription, with the best deals for customers that sign 36-month terms. Google won’t charge for data movement between Bare Metal Solution instances and general-purpose Google Cloud infrastructure if it occurs in the same cloud region.