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Google Cloud unveils roadmap for its analytics platform

The Google Cloud Platform roadmap, unveiled during the tech giant's recent virtual user conference, includes capabilities designed to simplify access to data and enable more users.

Google Cloud's roadmap for its analytics platform includes tools in preview that aim to break down data silos, enable real-time analysis and broaden access to data to more users within organizations.

Among the capabilities now in preview are Analytics Hub, an exchange where users can safely and securely access and share analytics assets such as reports and dashboards across their organization.

In addition, Google Cloud introduced Vertex AI Workbench, a notebook interface for data, analytics and machine learning workflows on Google's automated machine learning platform, and BigSearch with BigQuery, a feature that enables customers to find specific data elements across petabytes of automated logs by providing fully managed text indexes within BigQuery.

BigQuery is Google Cloud's data warehouse service.

Beyond the analytics capabilities now in preview, Google Cloud revealed that new features including Dataplex, BigQuery ML and BigQuery BI Engine are all now generally available.

The capabilities were revealed during Google Cloud Next '21, a virtual conference hosted by the tech giant from Oct. 12-14.

"At Google Cloud, we're focused on building an integrated data platform that provides all the different capabilities from collecting large-scale events in real time, processing this data and making it more valuable," said Sudhir Hasbe, senior director of product management at Google. "This whole integrated platform is a big focus for us, making sure all these services work together."

Sudhir Hasbe, senior director of product management at Google.
Sudhir Hasbe, senior director of product management at Google, discusses new capabilities coming to Google Cloud's analytics platform, during Google Cloud Next '21, a virtual conference hosted by the tech giant.

In addition, ensuring that Google Cloud's analytics capabilities can be used by trained data scientists and analysts and untrained business users alike is a development principle, he continued.

"One of the other areas where we have been focusing a lot is making sure these services are accessible to different personas within the organizations," Hasbe said. "Whether you are a data engineer, machine learning engineer, data analyst or a business user, we want to make sure you can go in and get value from data and innovate on top of our platform."

Looking at the individual capabilities -- both those in preview and those now generally available -- David Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research, highlighted Analytics Hub and Dataplex, among others.

Dataplex, first unveiled in preview in May 2021, is an environment in which organizations can unify distributed data and automate data management tasks.

"They share a theme of operating in a distributed, multivendor world," Menninger said. "That is the reality of the way most organizations operate today."

The collection of announcements suggests that Google is trying to tie together a variety of technologies that were developed independently. I applaud those efforts -- it's a big step forward.
David MenningerAnalyst, Ventana Research

He added that new features will be useful for customers because they work in concert with one another to create an ecosystem rather than work independently.

"The collection of announcements suggests that Google is trying to tie together a variety of technologies that were developed independently," Menninger said. "I applaud those efforts -- it's a big step forward. Integrating the way organizations use multiple tools from Google's portfolio will make them much easier to deploy."

That attempt to integrate analytics capabilities -- though under the umbrella of Google Cloud -- even extends to on-premises tools, he continued.

However, the capabilities are not groundbreaking, according to Menninger.

For example, Microsoft now offers Azure Synapse Analytics to unify data integration, data warehousing and big data analysis.

But despite not moving analytics in a new direction, the Google Cloud analytics capabilities now in preview and already generally available are significant.

"Most of the big vendors in this space are working on the same types of capabilities," Menninger said. "At any point in time, one vendor may have a slight advantage over another, but it's generally short-lived. This is a great set of improvements to the Google data and analytics products, but not revolutionary."

While Analytics Hub, Vertex AI Workbench and BigSearch with BigQuery highlight Google Cloud's roadmap and address its goals of breaking down silos, enabling real-time analysis and extending analytics to a broader array of users, they are not the only tools currently in development, according to Hasbe.

Currently, Google Cloud has 18 capabilities for BigQuery in development plus an additional 11 in development for other Google Cloud tools.

"There are a lot more things coming," Hasbe said. "The team is working hard on various other capabilities."

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