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Google announced a stupid amount of news at Google Cloud Next 2019. Unfortunately, much of that got buried by ads.

I don’t mean Google Ads. I’m talking about partner and customer pitches. Google Cloud Next 2019 had two keynotes, one on each of the first two days, plus a developer keynote in the evening on the second day. You can rewatch them here — I did because I wanted to quantify the feeling of constantly being pitched by Google’s partners and customers. More than a third of the total keynote time, roughly 37% by my calculations, was not about Google.

The first 90-minute keynote had about 35 minutes dedicated to Google’s partners and customers. I’m not counting the time that Google was onstage talking about its partners and customers. That’s bad, but hey at that point the general feeling was that Day 2 would be much better.


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The second keynote had roughly 37 minutes dedicated to Google’s partners and customers. That’s an improvement from a percentage perspective, given that they keynote went over to around 104 minutes. But by that point, the room was already emptying out because Google had started doubling up. A partner or customer video would be followed by a different customer or partner on stage.

In the second keynote, Google managed to bring more non-Google employees onstage than Google employees. (The first one was a tie.)

The developer keynote was a bit better, at 33 minutes of Google’s partners and customers. It also managed to feature more Google engineers than not. And in that keynote, the non-Google employees generally seemed to have more pertinent information to share with attendees. By that point, though, it was too late. Google had largely taught everyone that the keynotes were boring.

Clouding the message

I understand why Google tried this format out this year. At previous iterations of Google Cloud Next, the company was told that it wasn’t a serious cloud contender. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have plenty of large partners and customers, but Google Cloud Platform doesn’t. That’s changing now, and Google wanted to toot its own horn.

We got the memo. Unfortunately for Google, that memo buried the many other, more important themes the company was trying to get across.

The most important was arguably regarding security. That may not be as sexy as Anthos, AutoML, or Cloud Run, but it’s critical to the company’s cloud colossus. Google wanted to drive home the point that an enterprise’s data is theirs, not Google’s.

Then there was the embrace of Microsoft, various AI tools (including for cloud governance, data scientists, and enterprises), and solid improvements to data analytics.

None of that got the stage time it deserved. Worst case scenario, as at least one developer put it, “Google sold out.” Best case scenario, Google made its point and will hopefully try to drive a different one home next year.

ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.

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