Chatting Google Cloud Next, Security Field Day, and Mainframe Advancements – Infrastructure Matters, Episode 37

Chatting Google Cloud Next, Security Field Day, and Mainframe Advancements - Infrastructure Matters, Episode 37

In this episode of Infrastructure Matters, hosts Steven Dickens and Krista Macomber cover event highlights from Google Cloud Next, The Mainframe Summit and Security Field Day.

Their discussion covers:

  • Highlights from Google Cloud Next including Google’s AI stack and how Google is accelerating execution to capitalize on the market opportunity.
  • Tech Field Day’s Security Field Day where presenting were Aryaka Networks, Zerto (now part of HPE), Palo Alto Networks, and Index Engines,
  • Security Field Focus on data security, resilience from ransomware, and actionable insights for security teams.
  • From surviving earthquakes to thriving amidst M&A buzz, the mainframe industry is more dynamic than ever all covering in The Mainframe Summit
  • Plus more M&A activity in the mainframe space is notable, with acquisitions such as BMC acquiring Model9 and Astadia being bought by Amdocs, indicating a dynamic market landscape.

You can watch the video of our conversation below, and be sure to visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Listen to the audio here:

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Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this webcast. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this webcast.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.


Krista Macomber: Good morning and welcome to Infrastructure Matters. This is Krista Macomber and I am joined with the wonderful Stephen Dickens. Good morning, Steven. How are you this morning?

Steven Dickens: Yeah, I’m good. I don’t know whether wonderful describes it. I got home about 11 o’clock last night from Vegas, so my eyes are a little small and red this morning. So you’re too kind with wonderful, as always.

Krista Macomber: Well, I am right there with you. I pulled into my driveway at about 2:00 A.M., which was about eight hours ago from San Francisco. So this is going to be the Weary Traveler Episode.

Steven Dickens: And we’re down to just two of us. That’s how bad it’s been. We’re thinning the herd.

Krista Macomber: I know, and we’re missing Camberley this week. But I know, Steven, with both of us on the road this week, certainly, plenty to discuss. So I guess why don’t we kind of get into it. So know you were at Google Cloud Next this past week, as you mentioned, in Vegas. Right? So I’d love to hear from you, Steven, who you met with at the show and maybe some key themes that you heard in your conversations this week.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, so Google Cloud Next, this is the company’s flagship event, 30,000 people. It’s becoming a huge show now, big expo hall, got time with a whole bunch of execs. Regina Hoshimi and the rest of the Google AR team do a fantastic job. There’s about 120 of us analysts in a track for two days, and they were just feeding us the raw meat of executives. So got to spend time with T.K., Thomas Kurian, the CEO, right through pretty much all of their leadership team. I think tons of announcements. Our team, we had I think five analysts that were there.

Our team’s writing a whole bunch of research notes that’ll drop probably by the time you’ve seen this podcast drop. I covered particularly what they were doing around some of the custom silicon and also what they were doing around distributed cloud, which is their on-premise device. But I’ll start at a bit more of a senior level. What I came away with is that Google’s got a really good layer cake and architecture for their AI stack.

It was really impressive how the entire organization, all of the presentations kept coming back to this same layer cake, whether it was a Vertex or a Gemini story, whether it was a custom silicon story, whether it was a YouTube or a workspace or whatever it was, it came back to this layer cake diagram. I was chatting to Brian Hall, who’s their VP of marketing. He was very humble, but I think he’s the person who’s pulled all this together. What that means is the company’s got a lot going on with AI, but regardless of which part of the layer cake they were talking about, you were able to contextualize it and go, “Oh, this is adding value there. Oh, okay.

I understand where it fits.” From some of the other vendors I see in this space, they’re throwing all of it at the wall, and yes, the product manager is telling you about their piece, but it’s hard to really understand where it fits. So I think that’s going to make it interesting for Google as they go to market. It’s going to make it easier for their customers to understand it, their partners to understand. So that was the kind of big takeaway. The second big takeaway for me was Google’s just got to hit the accelerator pedal when it comes to sales.

The company’s got a good value prop now, they’ve got a good story, they’re up to 30 billion of revenue in Google Cloud. They’ve just got to go, go, go, go, go. I think they’re a product engineering company, and they’ve got a lot of services as a business that are bought by consumers without much sales touch. They have really got to step up the enterprise sales kind of motion. Obviously, they do do that, but I think the takeaway for me is product’s good, story’s good, sales execution, and some of the senior leaders that we spoke to talked about that.

But I think for me, that’s the big, big thing I’ll be watching for over the next couple of years. Can they hit that accelerator pedal on sales execution, build out those teams? Because I think the opportunity is there with public cloud. It’s there with AI. They’ve got the brand permission to go have that conversation. They just need to be in front of more customers.

Krista Macomber: That’s interesting. And so I imagine, Steven, as you mentioned this comprehensive AI story, I imagine we’ll be able to help them on that enterprise sales front. But as you hear that story compared to maybe Microsoft Azure, AWS, and what they’re doing there, understanding that for the other companies, it’s maybe a bit more of a point or fragmented story. But I guess what else from your perspective really jumped out as being these are a couple of differentiators that they could really lean on to be able to obtain that fuel, I guess, to be able to really put the pedal to the floor, so to speak?

Steven Dickens: Well, I think the interesting thing, and I can’t remember if it was five services that have got over two billion users. I saw one of the sessions where they’re talking about YouTube. We all use YouTube, trying to get your head around the scale of the data management. If you can apply Gemini and Vertex to YouTube data, you can apply it to any big data problem. So I think the thing that resonated for me is putting Gemini as part of G Suite and Gmail.

They launched a new app as part of G Suite called Vids for Create. Being able to apply Gemini and some of their AI to these huge, huge services really resonated for me. When you combine that, then, with what they’re doing with TPU and all of the Gemini training is done on TPU, they’ve got a stack that says, “We can handle the biggest AI workloads you’re going to see,” and we can do that.

And we can come all the way to that and through the stack with some of the large language models, some of the tooling, right down into custom silicon. They launched Axion this week, which is their Graviton competitor. That’s going to be interesting, an announcement with Arm around a custom processor. So that’s going to be interesting to see. So I think up and down the stack, scale, expertise, and some of the infrastructure. I think the only thing that’s left for me is to just see them grow market share. And yes, they’re going to take that from AWS and from Microsoft. So, I mean, I think the solution is there. They’ve just got to execute on the sales side.

Krista Macomber: Makes sense. And I would not be me if I didn’t ask you, did they talk at all about security, whether it be securing these infrastructure components that are going into the stack that’s delivering applications or whether it be any sort of add-on services or tools for customers for securing their AI applications? I ask this because in early June, in just a couple of months, I’ll be at re:Inforce, which is AWS, their security conference every year. And I know last year they talked to both ends of those spectrums from what AWS is doing and also how they’re empowering their customers for security, and I’m anticipating that they’ll even double-click down this coming year on AI applications and use cases. So just interested if they talked at all about that.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, they talked about Mandiant. I think they’re not looking at it as a bolt-on. It’s now foundational to everything they’re doing. They talked a lot about the security of the overall cloud platform and how they’ve really focused in… I presented on availability. You get the impression that they’re really architecting the backend that one of the FinOps ladies was presenting. So I think, and I wasn’t in the security sessions, but I got the impression from some of the executive sessions, they are really focused in at all layers of that backend infrastructure and making it secure.

It’d be interesting to get some feedback from them, and maybe we should get you better briefed if you’re not, on the Mandiant story for Gemini, because that’d be really interesting. But as I say, some of the general sessions, they talked about security up and down the stack as just vital, where those LLMs are coming from. As you pull them in, that’s an attack surface area, and you bring them into the system. These are new workloads for a lot of clients, and obviously there’s a challenge there. One of the sessions was talking about how threat actors have also got access to AI. It’s not just enterprises. So new tools, new attack surfaces. It’s a continual race and a hamster wheel, as you know, to keep ahead of the bad actors.

Krista Macomber: It is a relentless journey.

Steven Dickens: Yes, for sure.

Krista Macomber: Yep. And unless there’s anything else, Steven, on Google Cloud Next-

Steven Dickens: Lots to see from our analyst team. Keith Kirkpatrick is going to cover Vids. That’s a new app in the G Suite for creators and video work. There was stuff coming out around storage that I know Camberley and Mitch are going to be writing about. There was a lot going on in the app dev space that Paul Nash Roddy is going to be writing about. So, I mean, I’ve just literally given you the thinnest sliver, but there’s lots to talk about. Huge show.

Krista Macomber: I’m sure. So we’ll definitely have to stay tuned, as you mentioned, over the next week or two for some of that continued coverage. And if anybody has any specific questions, any listeners, we’d love to see them dropped in the comments and things like that. We love that feedback.

Steven Dickens: I did remember that we launched some availability research. It wasn’t with Google, but we took the opportunity to launch it at Google. So that’s looking at the three hyperscale cloud providers. Mitch Lewis and myself on our team have been digging deep into the availability from the big three cloud providers over 2023. So we just published a report that went live on Wednesday, so recommend people check that out. We’ll maybe put a link in the show notes.

Krista Macomber: For sure. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. That’ll be great to check out. Yeah, and that might be a good segue into the event that I was at this week. It was a fun one. It was Security Field Day. So for any of our listeners that are maybe not familiar, so The Futurum Group, we acquired the Tech Field Day team. Actually, the acquisition, I believe, closed last week. I believe it was announced several months ago. But this is a really interesting event. As you know, Steven, we cover a whole variety of topics within the Tech Field Day program. So again, this one this week was on security, but we have… I know Steven, I believe you were with the one for cloud, if I’m not mistaken.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, there’s App Dev Field Day coming up. There’s a whole schedule, I think, for the rest of the year.

Krista Macomber: Yeah, we have networking and mobility, and the format essentially is we invite vendors to come in that participate within that particular space to give effectively a 90-minute pitch to what we call our team of delegates. So now that Tech Field Day is part of The Futurum Group family, we’re having Futurum Group analysts sit in on this panel of delegates, but the delegate panel is some really, really smart people, practitioners that are living and breathing within this space.

So they’re able to come in and give some very pointed, very smart, and insightful questions. These presentations are streamed live and they’re also available after the fact. So also in the show notes, we can make sure for anyone that’s interested, we can make sure that we link to that. So it was just a really interesting format and just a different event to really participate in, and I’m looking forward to participating in others. So for security-

Steven Dickens: Which vendors were at this one this week? I was talking to you off camera, there was four or five that stood out for you. Who was there this week and what were the highlights, I suppose?

Krista Macomber: Absolutely. Yeah, Steven. So there was four companies that we had present this week. So we had Aryaka Networks, we had Zerto, which is now part of HPE. We had Palo Alto Networks, and we also had Index Engines. So it was a really interesting collection of companies. Obviously, Aryaka coming at the topics from more of a network perspective. Zerto coming at it from more of a data protection perspective. Index Engines also coming from a very centric perspective.

And from Palo Alto Networks, they bridge network security and a data security story. So I’ll give a quick fly-by on each company. I won’t go into too much detail just because it would be much longer than we have time for on this podcast. And I do plan to write a short research note on each of these that will be coming out, similar to our Google Cloud Next research, over the next couple of weeks.

But really some of the general themes were data security really being at the forefront and finding new ways to not only make data available for recovery, but also really get insights into maybe where there are some threats in our environment to be able to be remediated, and also, really getting broader intelligence across the environment and really making it automated and enforceable. So for Aryaka, that latter point was a big piece of their presentation.

They talked about not only their SD-WAN capabilities, but also their unified SASE capabilities, which stands for Secure Access Service Edge, but really how they’re trying to integrate these capabilities to provide not only a network backbone, but also, again, that observability and intelligence across that backbone, and to be able to do things like automate policies for access control for packets as they’re being delivered, for example.

Steven Dickens: That’s the key word for me out of there, automate. I mean, I see the ops side from a computer infrastructure. These teams have just got a lot of fatigue. There’s just so much coming at them. So the ability to automate and drive that through is crucial. Was that the same theme coming through on the network side?

Krista Macomber: I would say so. Yep, yep. Absolutely. And the team from Aryaka, I highly recommend folks listen to that session. They did a fantastic job not only of setting out their vision, but also the demos and answering the questions. For this audience, it was a big push for the demos and really wanting to see the technology in action. So we got to see MyAryaka, not only that single pane of glass perspective, but also, as you mentioned, getting some of those insights across the environment and the automation, too. So it was a really cool, interactive session. And again, I do recommend folks listen to it.

Steven Dickens: The one I’m interested in, we spent some time with Zerto over in Boston a few months back.

Krista Macomber: Yep, yep.

Steven Dickens: Obviously, now part of HPE, coming from that sort of data protection space, which I know you cover better than anyone. I mean, what was the key takeaways there?

Krista Macomber: Yeah, so the overall pitch was around resiliency from ransomware, and I would say there was two key things that they really talked about. One was, they have what they call their cyber resilience fault, which is essentially looking to provide immutable data copies, looking to be able to provide as much of an isolated environment as possible through replication into the vault of this immutable data to be able to have those data copies available for recovery. So that was one thing they talked about.

But also they talked about their journaling capabilities and how they can use this journal to be able to provide analytics that could detect that an attack is happening. And we’re seeing this really across the data protection space. So Zerto, they compete against some more traditional replication capabilities, but also increasingly your backups, your backup software vendors of the world. So for Zerto, their pitch is being able to detect the attack in near real-time because their journal is capturing those very finite points in time, and then also to be able to very quickly recover once the attack is able to be occurred. So it’s kind of-

Steven Dickens: Roll back to a known point, basically?

Krista Macomber: Exactly.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, makes sense.

Krista Macomber: We talk about RTO, which is recovery time, and RPO, which is recovery point, which effectively is your downtime and your data loss. So their thing is being able to try to mitigate both of those things.

Steven Dickens: Makes sense.

Krista Macomber: Yep. So as you mentioned, Steven, we work closely with that team, and I’ve been really keen to see some of those analytics capabilities in action. So that was really interesting.

Steven Dickens: The other big one that stands out for me is Palo Alto. They’re one of the behemoths in this space..

Krista Macomber: Yes.

Steven Dickens: I mean, I’ve been watching them from… I’ve got a really dear friend of mine who works for them in the UK that I caught up with when I was back there socially. So I’m tracking them a little bit. But that’s a massive company in this space, one of the biggest.

Krista Macomber: Yes. Yep. They’re a massive company, and I would say they’re certainly branching out technology-wise these days. One thing that this team highlighted in particular, which is very near and dear to my heart, was they made an acquisition last year of a company called Dig Security. And Dig Security plays in the market for what we call Data Security Posture Management, DSPM. Steven, we talked about this on our last episode with Camberley. So from my perspective, I really wanted to know, “Okay, this is a company that does next gen firewalls and they do threat identification and things of that nature.”

So for me, I wanted to know, “Okay, what’s the value of this kind of a technology in the hands of Palo Alto?” Because I’ve been hearing more from the data protection vendors. So for data security posture management, it’s a lot of getting insight into things like the sensitivity of the data and what we call some of the data lineage as well. So for Palo Alto, their security pitch is being able to secure… They call it code to cloud. So they’re really looking to secure, really, across the application lifecycle, and they have something called Prisma Cloud that it really sounds like they’re going to be integrating the Dig technology into.

And so similar to what we were talking about with Aryaka, for Prisma Cloud, it’s trying to give this centralized visibility and control across the environment. But what Dig is going to be able to do is really provide insight into how to protect the data. So they gave a couple of examples. One could be, for example, the ability to use Prisma Cloud with Dig to not only see if a web application firewall is connected to sensitive data, but also does it have access to that data. I thought that was a really great example.

Or, for example, looking at an EC2 instance and not only being able to identify, “Okay, is there some overly privileged access to the EC2 instance?” But also, “Does that EC2 instance have maybe access to an RDS database that has sensitive data in it?” So it’s for security teams that are getting just inundated these days, and IT teams as well, but security teams in particular that are getting inundated with these insights and alerts. It really makes it more actionable and it helps them to prioritize what to focus on.

Steven Dickens: And that’s what I’m just hearing. I mean, there’s so much coming at these teams. Sorting the signal from the noise is the crucial piece, I think.

Krista Macomber: Yep. Yep. Exactly, exactly. So that was a really interesting pitch. And then just again, the other shout out I would give is Index Engines. They were our final, but certainly not our least presenter, and they talked about their CyberSense capability, which they’ve just launched the 8.6 version of it this past week. And we actually had the opportunity to work closely with Index Engines for a validation that we did in collaboration with a partnership that they have with Dell.

And what’s interesting about Index Engines is they’re not quite in the data security posture management space, but what they are is they are more in the, I would say, the threat intelligence almost. So they are not only doing things like looking at maybe anomalous activity within the data environment to detect an attack is occurring, but they can actually look at the contents of files as well and inspect the contents of the data itself. And what that does is it gives greater confidence. So they talk about a 99.5% confidence in their ability to detect an attack, and we pressed them on this.

They gave us some really great information that’s reflected in the report that we created for them. And they also talked about it in the presentation, which was yesterday morning. So we’ll make sure to link to those pieces of information as well. But really, that’s their play is they collaborate closely with your Dells, your Infinidats, your IBMs of the world to bring that added value from that perspective for cybersecurity.

Steven Dickens: Sounds like you’ve had an interesting week.

Krista Macomber: It was very interesting. And I know, Steven, we had one more event this week that we wanted to talk about before we run out of time here, which was our Mainframe Summit that we hosted this week.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, yeah. So interesting week for the mainframe, just in general. We had the 60th anniversary of the mainframe that happened last Sunday. That was April 7th. On April 8th, we hosted our Mainframe 60th Summit. Highly recommend everybody checks those sessions out. We’ll put a link in the show notes. Big week for the mainframe as well. I mean, whilst we were recording last week’s episode, there was an earthquake in the New York area, 4.8 on the Richter scale.

It was actually whilst we were recording last week’s show. So I don’t know whether you’d seen my screen wobble at one point, but I came off the podcast… The test manager, I know, PJ Catalano, put a note out on X talking about “We’ve got a free earthquake test of the 200 mainframes that are in the test floor there.” So I went down the rabbit hole. I know they earthquake test those, just one of the NEHRP standards.

So there’s a research note coming out, I think, today that talks about what that happened. The other news this week in the mainframe space was IBM closed out its IntelliMagic acquisition. We’ve got some research coming out that we’re doing on that. So this is a bit of a preview for that. But I think in a really good week for the mainframe, surviving an earthquake last Friday, going through its birthday on the Sunday, our mainframe summits on the Monday, and then the IntelliMagic acquisition being announced.

So there’s a lot going on in the mainframe space. I’ve got some time this week with Google talking about mainframe and what they’re doing. So digging into that a little bit, which was really interesting. So as I say, the mainframe space continues to be probably more vibrant than I’ve ever seen it, which is crazy.

Krista Macomber: It’s very interesting and I always have to laugh if anybody ever says, “The mainframe is dying or dead,” I’m like, “Okay, how many more decades is that going to take?” Right? Which-

Steven Dickens: We’ve been eating those words since ’95, I think. Yeah.

Krista Macomber: Right.

Steven Dickens: It’s crazy. But no, I mean, lots going on in the space. Lots of M&A activity. We’ve seen BMC by Model9, we’re seeing the assets that were part of Micro Focus then dropped into OpenText for a hot minute and then being acquired by Rocket. A lot of acquisition activities and the IntelliMagic piece, we saw Astadia get bought by Amdocs. There’s a lot going on, a lot of M&A. So I don’t think we’ve seen the space this vibrant in a while.

Krista Macomber: That’s awesome. It’s all good. It’s all good.

Steven Dickens: It’s all good. Keeps me in gainful employment, let’s put it that way.

Krista Macomber: Exactly, exactly.

Steven Dickens: Lots to cover.

Krista Macomber: All right. Well, on that note, we are unfortunately out of time, but please make sure to like us and subscribe in all of your favorite methods of getting your podcast, all your favorite platforms, and leave us comments. Please interact. We’d love to hear from you, what you want to hear about. Certainly, we want to make this engaging. And with that, thank you so much as always, Steven, and we look forward to connecting with everyone on the next episode.

Steven Dickens: Bye-bye.

Krista Macomber: Thank you.

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Futurum Group: The Mainframe Summit

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Author Information

With a focus on data security, protection, and management, Krista has a particular focus on how these strategies play out in multi-cloud environments. She brings approximately a decade of experience providing research and advisory services and creating thought leadership content, with a focus on IT infrastructure and data management and protection. Her vantage point spans technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her work has appeared in major publications including eWeek, TechTarget and The Register.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Krista led the data center practice for Evaluator Group and the data center practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research. She also created articles, product analyses, and blogs on all things storage and data protection and management for analyst firm Storage Switzerland and led market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

Krista holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Journalism with a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Regarded as a luminary at the intersection of technology and business transformation, Steven Dickens is the Vice President and Practice Leader for Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations at The Futurum Group. With a distinguished track record as a Forbes contributor and a ranking among the Top 10 Analysts by ARInsights, Steven's unique vantage point enables him to chart the nexus between emergent technologies and disruptive innovation, offering unparalleled insights for global enterprises.

Steven's expertise spans a broad spectrum of technologies that drive modern enterprises. Notable among these are open source, hybrid cloud, mission-critical infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and FinTech innovation. His work is foundational in aligning the strategic imperatives of C-suite executives with the practical needs of end users and technology practitioners, serving as a catalyst for optimizing the return on technology investments.

Over the years, Steven has been an integral part of industry behemoths including Broadcom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and IBM. His exceptional ability to pioneer multi-hundred-million-dollar products and to lead global sales teams with revenues in the same echelon has consistently demonstrated his capability for high-impact leadership.

Steven serves as a thought leader in various technology consortiums. He was a founding board member and former Chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation. His role as a Board Advisor continues to shape the advocacy for open source implementations of mainframe technologies.


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