Google Cloud Computing“Life gets a bit easier when your Google products work well together…” I couldn’t have said it better myself. In truth, I didn’t say it at all; this gem was plucked from a recent post on Google’s Official Gmail Blog announcing the company’s latest integration, this time of its heretofore disconnected free data storage offerings, Google+, Drive, and Gmail. For me, the Google post served as a reminder of three stark truths: 1) the gang from Mountain View is rolling out new products and services faster than I am loosing hair fibers (which is pretty fast), 2) these products and services are increasingly integrated and cloud-based 3) Like my hair loss, there is a certain inevitability to my integration with these services; as the Borg said, “all will be assimilated.” Finally accepting the reality of these truths, I decided to dive in to the Google Cloud headfirst; here’s what I found.

DOES IT COME WITH CHROME?

Any serious foray into the Google Cloud should begin with the adoption of the company’s flagship browser, Google Chrome. With a reported 37% of global web browser usage, Chrome is the most popular web browser on the planet. According to Google, this is because it offers speed, simplicity, and security. I can’t say I disagree, however as a newly converted Google “Clouder,” I think Chrome’s main usefulness lies in its integration with Google’s expanding myriad of stuff.

By my last count, Google boasts nearly 200 products and services (189, to be exact-go ahead and try counting for yourself); this is no mean feat, especially when you consider that many of these are major efforts – YouTube is but one product offering.

SIDE NOTE: {A more informal but no less compelling measure of Google’s breadth and depth can be found in the polite admonition one first encounters on the “Google Drive” page in Wikipedia: “Not to be confused with GMail Drive or Google driverless car.” In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find too many other companies that need bother distinguish their cloud storage platform from their email service and robotic automotive offering; it’s the little things that makes Google, well, Google.}

When you are logged into your Chrome browser, you are plugged in to the entire panoply of Google-ness, including access to a growing multitude of Chrome app extensions. This really makes life a bit easier, for both you and Google: the more context-driven data you give the company, the more it is able to tailor your experiences and add to its short and long-term bottom line (think ad dollars and AI).

You can’t get much more streamlined than that.

NB: When you are taking advantage of the Chrome cloudiness by logging into your Chrome profile from another computer, don’t forget to log off; you never know who’s surfing the net at your local coffee shop these days.

I WANT GOOGLE NOW

Never one late to the party, Google is also seeking to dominate the burgeoning field of predictive apps with its Google Now offering, available on the Android Jelly Bean 4.1 and 4.2 and Apple iOS 5 and 6 operating systems. Billed as a proto-robotic personal assistant (my phrase), the app is engineered to learn about an individual based on his or her online footprint over other Google products like Search, Gmail, and Google+, use this data to predict when a person is about to take certain actions, and then offer assistance.

Predictive apps like Google Now are really cool or a bit creepy, depending upon your viewpoint.

DATA DRIVEN

In the end, the Google cloud experience is all about the data, which brings us to Google Drive. Drive is a file storage and synchronization service which enables user cloud storage, file sharing and collaborative editing. It’s also the new home of Google Docs, a suite of productivity applications for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. In other words, it is the centralized place on the Google Cloud in which every Google user can store their stuff. It even works offline with or without the Chrome browser, although if you use Chrome, offline is already set up for you.

Google’s ability to integrate its cloud-based data storage service with the most popular web browser on Earth (Chrome), and its other ubiquitous offerings like Google Docs and Now suggests that Google is getting closer to becoming indispensable. In an era characterized by technology integration and big data, the company that can offer the widest breadth and depth of services over the cloud, social, and mobile – i.e. real seamless integration – will win the day.

As a case in point, take the popular note-taking service Google Keep. Originating as a mobile app, Keep syncs with Drive to provide users “a seamless transition from phone to computer.”

By computer, Google means its Chrome browser, which is enabled through a handy Chrome extension for Keep.

Thus we have an emerging formula: Mobile+ Cloud+Browser= Android+Drive+Chrome (or Chromebook).

Other evidence of Google’s cloud-based integration can be found in the tagline for Google Cloud Print: “Print Anywhere, From Any Device.”

DATA DEPENDENT

Back to the inspiration for this post, the unification of Google’s free data storage options, Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+. Google’s own copy describes the utility of this particular integration (for users and for Google):

With this new combined storage space, you won’t have to worry about how much you’re storing and where…We’ll also be making updates to the Google Drive storage page, so you can better understand how you’re using storage space…And if you need more storage, this is your place to upgrade, with plans starting at $4.99/month for 100 GB.

With quarterly revenues higher than ever (up over $14 Billion in Q1 2013), I don’t see Google slowing down anytime soon, which means I am, along with millions of others, likely to become ever-more dependent on my favorite tech behemoth in the future.

What’s the only downside of this Google dependency? If Google goes down, or cuts me off, I’m totally screwed.

Sergei, I love Google Glass – no, really, I do.