Using an out-of-the-box platform like Google Cloud means harnessing the power of a very versatile “come and build it” cloud environment and tailoring it to a company’s particular business needs. Although these types of systems are made for convenience, they don’t do your work for you when it comes to designing use cases. Here are five good ways to get the most out of using Google Cloud for enterprise.
- Research a Use Case While Switching from Legacy to Cloud-Native
Of course, companies want to gravitate to, and migrate toward, cloud-native applications – systems and apps running on platforms like Google Cloud that were made for cloud computing – but how you do that really involves a good deal of research and legwork.
First, you’ll have to identify why you’re making the trip. Is it for a specific kind of customer analytics? Are you going to track production? Is inventory tracking involved? Then, you’ll have to think about how to get those specific relevant data sets into the new cloud-native systems.
In the best case, it just involves linking up to compatible databases and transferring clean, structured, curated data. In the worst-case scenario, it involves hiring a host of data entry people to migrate the data by hand. In most cases, it shouldn’t come to this, but the point is that taking a granular view of project scope and goals can make a big difference and eliminate a lot of costly effort. Think of the process as “mapping out” what you want to do with cloud-facing applications and how integration is going to work.
- Avoid Restrictions on Versatility
As you go forward, looking at what kinds of applications are interfacing with your Google Cloud services, you’ll have the choice of whether to go with open source or proprietary tools. Businesses can use open source containerization as a bridge, or rely on pre-built, vendor-licensed software suites. And that’s a big decision!
Some companies may be better served by singing up with vendors like SAP and Oracle than by trying to work with open source tools. However, remember that using brand-licensed products can move the business into a kind of “walled garden” scenario — in a sense, some of these proprietary tools can fix the data in certain ways that prevent creative flow, or narrow down the ways in which users can navigate the system. That’s not to say that companies will never opt for proprietary systems — for instance, a business with a small development staff and some high-volume, low-complexity needs may select a branded approach. However, open source solutions often provide a higher degree of flexibility for the DIY crowd.
The good news is that whether you are going with an enterprise-wide adoption of SAP or developing a tailor-made solution, Google Cloud Platform is the fastest, most secure platform in which to trust your most mission critical applications and data.
3. Wade Carefully into Machine Learning
Machine learning is one of the biggest buzzwords in IT today — and it’s a real goal for businesses, because these new models can deliver so much more in terms of valuable data intelligence. With machine learning, instead of programming a computer, you train that computer to produce its own results. Through machine learning algorithms, intelligent computer programs can produce their own customer insights, direct inventory and supply chain processes on their own, and do other highly automated work.
The trade-off, or one of the trade-offs, is that machine learning systems have a high learning curve because of their complexity. The more a company dives headfirst into machine learning tools, the more resources it needs in terms of skill sets. So if you don’t have a team of highly qualified data scientists in-house, using a highly evolved and complex machine learning system can be a liability. Try to start out small, and work your way toward bigger and better machine learning applications when pulling from Google Cloud to perform business processes.
4. Secure and Scale Your Codebase
Another great tip is to look at the security for the applications that you’ll be using to interface with your Google Cloud data.
Security is never a given — it’s a concern all the way through the pipeline, and that includes the middle-ware that operates in the junction between a cloud vendor’s storage system and a client’s user interfaces.
One popular solution here is containerization — with container virtualization, the operating system and security tools are built into the modules that contain the operating code base. You fill up the containers with your applications and ‘deploy’ them toward the cloud platform. You can then automate image integrity and run-time protection to ensure that what you deploy is the unmodified “gold” build of your application. It’s a way to move forward and create that bridge in a secure way, for compliance and confidence and peace of mind when it comes to cyber security.
Of course, there is also endpoint security, network segmentation and the need for elaborate security tools below the perimeter, but at least with this intentional method of cloud access, you’ll be able to appropriately protect and change the applications that you’re working with.
5. Use Google Cloud native services to “Go Global”
Here’s another tip for companies that have big ambitions — above a certain size and with a certain set of resources, it makes sense to set up a Content Delivery Network or CDN as an evolved “caching system” to enable better delivery across distribution zones.
When you have a great architecture with data running through Google Cloud and into and out of your in-house business engines, you may want to extend your reach. You may end up having operations all over the world, or over a broad territory, in which case, the CDN makes sense because it’s providing a kind of clearinghouse model that supports your global goals. However, if that’s not what you’re into, the CDN is probably not going to be a best practice for your company.
Another thing to think about with your applications going global is your data going global as well. If your business needs real-time global availability and update capability, then a service like Cloud Spanner may fit your needs. It provides the consistency, scalability, and availability needs which are the foundation components of any database while being a true relational database.