Google Takes on the Competition with Cloud and AI Services

Google is making many of its most powerful cloud computing tools available commercially for the first time, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian shared at the company’s Cloud Next ’23 conference in San Francisco. In a bid to catch up with top AI rivals such as Amazon and Microsoft, the Google Distributed Cloud will open for general business including at the edge with Vertex AI and PaLM 2. Google Cloud will serve up AI from Anthropic, in which it is an investor, as well as from Meta Platforms. In addition, an AI-infused Gmail productivity suite is on the way.

The Gmail suite will be available to those who subscribe to corporate Gmail, priced at an extra $30 per month per seat. The cost is the same as the AI variant of Microsoft Office 365, now in the test phase. Both companies currently offer AI chatbots — Microsoft Bing AI and Google Bard.

“The efforts are Google’s latest attempt to spark growth in the cloud business, an important part of CEO Sundar Pichai’s attempts to reduce dependence on its cash-cow search engine,” The Wall Street Journal writes, noting “recent advances in AI, and the computing resources they require, have added extra urgency to turn the technology into profitable products.”

Since Google’s cloud expansion is dependent on its access to scarce AI chips, Kurian had Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang join him at the conference where they announced “a large cluster of Nvidia’s newest AI chips, the H100, will become generally available to Google Cloud customers,” reports WSJ.

Google also aid it will make more of its own TPUs accessible for a wide range of AI tasks. Google explains in a blog post that its Cloud TPU v5e, now available in preview, is “the most cost-efficient, versatile, and scalable Cloud TPU to date.”

Google’s comprehensive Vertex AI platform is getting an upgrade, with Vertex AI search and conversation now generally available. The platform, rolled out in beta earlier this year, lets enterprise developers “quickly ingest data, add customization, and, with a few clicks, build a search engine or chatbot that can interact with customers,” according to Google.

“Google’s cloud clients will be able to access Meta’s Llama 2 large language model, as well as AI startup Anthropic’s Claude 2 chatbot, to customize with enterprise data for their own apps and services,” writes Bloomberg.

Google’s numerous Cloud Next announcements also revealed that Duet AI, its collection of generative AI for things like text summarization and organizing data, “can now assist with code refactoring, or improving code by making small changes without altering the code’s overall external behavior,” TechCrunch reports, adding that Duet AI is currently in preview and is expected to hit general release later this year.

Welcome to Google Cloud Next ’23, Google, 8/29/23
Google Cloud Kicks Off Next ’23 with a New Way to Cloud, Press Release, 8/29/23
Google’s Duet AI Can Generate Emails and Documents in Different Tones, Engadget, 8/30/23
Ampere Says Flagship Chip to be Offered by Google Cloud, Reuters, 8/29/23

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