Google on Thursday launched new data and analytics capabilities for its data cloud as a precursor to the slate of new and updated tools it will unveil on Oct. 11 during the tech giant's virtual user conference.
The new tools, which were unveiled in a blog post, include the general availability of BigLake and Analytics Hub, both of which were in preview, and the introduction of Log Analytics in Cloud Logging, which is now in preview.
Google said more than 100,000 data professionals have started trials with BigQuery this year, representing nearly 150% year-over-year growth. However, the vendor did not say how many of those users made commitments and became customers of Google's cloud data tools.
That's what the additions of Analytics Hub, BigLake and Log Analytics appear to address, according to Donald Farmer, founder and principal of TreeHive Strategy.
"I think what you can see here is a very significant attempt to finally make Google Cloud Platform an analytics platform that is professional enough for people to really commit to," Farmer said. "People I talk to say they use Google Cloud, but they don't use it as a serious platform. This is their attempt to change that."
In addition, Farmer noted that Google's July launch of a publisher/subscriber (pub/sub) subscription to BigQuery potentially could attract more users.
Pub/sub is the process of publishers sending events to a service regardless of how the events will be processed followed by the delivery of the events to the services that react to the events. With the pub/sub subscription to BigQuery, users can ingest streaming data into BigQuery without paying extra for data ingestion; they pay only for the compute they use to extract, load and transform their data.
Meanwhile, according to Bruno Aziza, head of data and analytics at Google Cloud and author of the blog post unveiling the new tools, the tools are aimed at overcoming the barriers that commonly limit what organizations are able to do with data.
"They're addressing limitless data, limitless workloads and limitless reach," he said. "The world of data is all about limits. The limits could be capacity, budget, access to data. But when more people engage with more capabilities, it's bound to lead to more innovation."
Google first unveiled its Analytics Hub in preview in late 2021. The tool is essentially a data sharing platform where users of Google's data cloud can securely access and share analytics assets, such as reports, dashboards and data models, across their organization.
Analytics Hub resides within BigQuery, Google's cloud data warehouse designed for large amounts of data.
For customers that want to try out the Analytics Hub before making a commitment, they can use it for free with BigQuery's sandbox, a repository where users can explore BigQuery capabilities. Should they want to make the tool a permanent part of their analytics ecosystem, pricing becomes part of an organization's use of BigQuery.
While Google did not release specific pricing information, the vendor touts a "pay-as-you-go," usage-based pricing system and pre-payment discounts. It provides a pricing estimator for various cloud services based on usage or custom quotes from sales representatives.
Google unveiled BigLake in preview in April 2022 during the vendor's Data Cloud Summit.
While BigQuery is designed for use with structured data that has a predetermined purpose, BigLake -- as its name suggests -- is a repository for data lakes, which are designed for flexibility and store raw data that can be used for any purpose.
BigLake lets Google users build multi-cloud data lakes that eliminate the need to move data for query and analysis. Meanwhile, it includes security controls that can be configured in one place by system administrators and enforced everywhere.
The tool was moved from preview to general availability faster than most other Google products due to customer demand, according to Aziza.
Finally, Log Analytics in Cloud Logging -- a fully managed, real-time log management service from Google that enables storage, search, analysis and alerting -- aims to help organizations gain insights from the logs they create about the different events captured by their various systems.
By using BigQuery SQL, customers that store data generated from servers, sensors and other devices can analyze that data in the same way they analyze other business data.
"Log Analytics … makes this idea of limitless workloads available," Aziza said. "Limitless data is Analytics Hub and BigLake. If you believe that data is an ecosystem, then we should allow you to work and play within that ecosystem and reduce the cost. If you have limitless data, limitless workloads and limitless reach, you can innovate more."
Meanwhile, Mike Leone -- analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group -- said Analytics Hub and BigLake could lead to improved decision-making with their focus on sharing and accessing data.
"Being able to share data securely at scale is critical," he said. "And knowing that data is likely stored in a variety of locations, the idea of a converged data platform that combines distributed data from warehouses and data lakes regardless of format goes a long way in ensuring better outcomes and higher levels of innovation."
Similarly, Farmer noted that the Analytics Hub could be of significant use to new Google Cloud customers and perhaps move many trying out the tech giant's data tools to make commitments and become paying customers.
"Google is now positioning itself as a data sharing platform," he said. "Snowflake has been very successful with data sharing," referring to the independent data vendor – known for its cloud data platform -- that rose to prominence with a widely used cloud data warehouse.
"But Google has better data sharing technology -- they just haven't built the toolset around it to make it practical," Farmer added. "The Analytics Hub is their attempt to put a front end to the sharing experience that has always been there and always been very powerful."
Catching up to the competition
While the new capabilities have the potential to drive greater adoption, they also represent Google taking steps to improve the experience of its customers who specialize in data and analytics, according to Farmer.
As a name like BigQuery suggests, Google focused on scale when it first started developing tools for its data cloud. And according to Farmer, BigQuery is effective for querying large amounts of data.
But most data analysts don't query giant amounts of data, he noted. Instead, they usually do a progressive series of smaller queries, asking one question of their data and then following up with others until they derive insights.
Bruno AzizaHead of data and analytics, Google Cloud
"That exploratory experience has not been good on BigQuery and has actually been very expensive," Farmer said. "Now, they're really paying attention to that, and that's where they're catching up. They're catching up around the analytics experience where before, they were focused on sheer scale. They missed out on the real-world experience of analytics."
Now that Google has added tools to improve the query and analysis experience, Farmer said he'd like the tech giant to better integrate its Google Sheets spreadsheet platform with the rest of its analytics tools similar to how Microsoft has integrated Power BI with Excel.
Likewise, Leone said he'd like to see Google better integrate the tools within its cloud data platform.
Some overlap remains between some of Google's offerings resulting from acquisitions, and as those get sorted out, the Google Cloud data and analytics ecosystem will likely become more cohesive, he said.
"It's taken some time to properly account for overlaps, [but] I expect to see greater integrations and service consolidation in the short-term to ensure businesses are getting the biggest bang for their buck while also enabling them to scale at the pace of the business," Leone said.
After it formally unveils Analytics Hub, BigLake and Log Analytics, Google plans to launch more new data and analytics tools when it kicks off the Google Cloud Next conference on Oct. 11, according to the vendor.
Editor's note: Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.