Google Next '18 - Moscone West Building

To say that Google is going after Enterprise customers would be an understatement. The Keynotes and Breakout Session Talks made their intentions abundantly clear. In my opinion and from my research, what has to happen is Google needs to convince companies that their data and Intellectual Property is safe in the cloud, they will avoid vendor lock and control costs.

I’m a Software and Operations Engineer at heart so I was very excited to see what Google’s Cloud has to offer to help companies choose to migrate more of their assets to the cloud, make my job as an SRE Manager easier and have fun doing it.

I’ll breakdown my experience and try to answer the question, should you go to Google Next ’19?

The Process

Registering was a breeze as I got a complimentary ticket from our local Google Reps here in San Diego and the online process was very intuitive. During the event, the mobile app was a must have as it provided news, all the sessions with details and ability to register, my schedule and a street map and bonus in-the-building map.

The Location

Google picked a great location as there was lodging, food and of course coffee shops all around. The walk between the two Moscone buildings wasn’t too bad but the Plaza Hotel was a 3 long blocks away so I had to turn in my flip-flops for walking shoes. After the first day, I shuffled a couple sessions so I didn’t have to do as much walking between venues.

The Services

There was coffee and tea everywhere which was great. The food could have been better. It was cold sandwiches, salads and sugar snacks and anything with Chicken was gone in just a few minutes. On day 1 the food line at the front of the Moscone West building quickly ran out of food. That left a couple hundred people to walk to the other side of the floor or walk to the South building.

The People

The workers were very professional at every step of the way from security, check-in, badge swipers, presenters, A/V, sign holders and my favorite the workers on the street with the birds-eye view map of the surrounding blocks to direct traffic. Great work everyone.

The Keynotes

Overhearing one of the workers, apparently the room for the Keynote Talks in Moscone South only held about 6,000 people and people who registered Monday got first crack at seats. I checked-in on Tuesday so I watched the talk from a room in Moscone West on big screens. Which is fine since my first breakout session was in Moscone West. The talk started very late so I had to leave early to get to my first session anyway. I won’t go into detail since the videos are up on YouTube. It was inspiring albeit very teleprompter heavy.

Since I would be watching the 2nd day Keynote from a screen anyway, I just watched the stream from my hotel room. It saved me an hour and half of sitting in a chair at the venue and I could relax, have some coffee and update my schedule. Another good talk. Google really does have a vision. I’m very curious how they execute it.

The Venue

The buildings were decent size so there was some walking but nothing uncomfortable. There was 30 minutes between each 50 minute session so there was plenty of time to use the restroom, grab a snack or drink, hit up some display booths or have a chat with someone. There were a few tables, usually full, and most people either stood or sat on the carpeted floor between sessions.

Talks were either in a large room with theater seating or smaller Alcoves by the windows. Both were comfortable but I did appreciate the Alcoves more since I could feel the sun and look outside to rest my eyes. A/V was very good and most sessions were recorded. I highly recommend watching them on YouTube.

The lines to get in were divided into pre-registered and not-registered. Pre-reg gets in first then at some time, non-reg get in. The talks I went to were never full with pre-reg so the non-reg attendees always got in. Some talks would eventually become full so leaving an empty seat for a backpack or drink wasn’t really an option. Someone was coming for that seat.

The Topics

There was a good variety of topics available. The sessions I went to were:

  • Managing costs
  • Managing migrations
  • Spinnaker
  • Analytics
  • Managing compute instances
  • Fintech security
  • Load-balancing
  • CD with Jenkins and GKE
  • More security
  • Disaster recovery
  • Securing APIs
  • Crypto key storage*
  • Migrating using a service*

* The last two were major sales pitches. There was 10 minutes of very general slides by a Google Product Manager or Architect then another speaker came on and the sales pitch commenced. The challenge was the 2nd speaker didn’t tie in their service with what we were just told by the 1st speaker. One tip-off I realized too late is if the main speaker is from a company that provides a service about the talk.

The Presenters

Most were very well prepared, mixed in tech speak with humor. One of my favorite speakers was willing to spill the beans and say that Spinnaker is still maturing and is a pain to upgrade and manage. I’ve installed it a couple times so I appreciated his honesty. Slides were clear, I’m not sure if they’re online or not but are clearly visible in the videos so taking pics of them isn’t really necessary but I couldn’t help myself and took some anyway.

The Attendees

They were mostly male (maybe 90-95%) evidenced by the line at the men’s bathroom between sessions. I never saw a line at the ladies room. I guess that confirms that this industry is still heavily dominated by men. I have a daughter and I support groups like PyLadies so I hope more women choose Dev and Ops as careers. As an SRE Manager, I’m always looking for people who have a passion for learning, trying new things, embrace the Devops culture and want to make an impact in the industry. This event was full of people like that which is great.

The Fair and Concert

I went to the Chainsmokers concert Wednesday night and it was a good show. Most people seemed entertained but let’s be honest, most were dev or ops nerds so we only allow ourselves so much fun (I have a video to prove it). Just kidding, there was no shortage of smiles on people’s faces.

Google does moving people around really well. There were 3 bus lines from downtown to the outdoor venue. When I walked up to the Green Line there were 5 buses waiting to go. They left every 15 minutes so I imagine it was to handle overflow. Coming back the buses were packed and we all had some good chats during the 15 minute ride.

Notable Events and Moments

  • They were handing out free copies of the SRE Workbook due out on Aug. 4th. Pretty cool.
  • The food handler, perhaps a supervisor, on day 1 in Moscone West got frustrated that the 2nd line formed at lunch. He tried to split it up but to no avail. The line would quickly reform. I’m guessing that’s why they packed up the food and shutdown the line.
  • Vic Iglesias did a very informative and funny talk on GKE and Jenkins. It’s on YouTube, I highly suggest watching it if only for the humor.
  • As I walked up to a line leading into a presentation, one of the workers motioned with her left arm with the card scanner in her hand and almost hit me in the face. I dodged it, they apologized and we all had a laugh.
  • One business owner stood up during Q&A at the end of a talk and reverse pitched the speaker and asked them if they could use him as a vendor. Maybe a little payback.

Overall Impression

I’ll probably go again since it’s in San Francisco again next year in April. It’s clear to me that Google wants to challenge AWS and Azure in the Enterprise so they have their work cut out for them and I’m really curious where they take the company and their cloud offerings.

Should you go? Absolutely. It’s packed full of information, vendors and networking with fun like minded techies which makes for a great overall experience.


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