Google Starts Bridging Its Business Products

May 6, 2016, 4:00 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

One oft-cited issue about Google’s non-search businesses is that its apps products and its cloud products are sort of islands unto themselves. On Friday, the company started to bridge those islands by providing a live link between its Google Sheets spreadsheet application and BigQuery, its data analytics cloud service.

What this means is that business people who live in the rows and columns of a spreadsheet can easily link their data to a BigQuery table for fancy-and-powerful analysis.

Companies have lots of data sitting in spreadsheets, so being able to apply BigQuery without having to manually copy the data around could be an attractive proposition.

“You just refer to the spreadsheet, set up a table in BigQuery and set up a link to the sheet,” said Greg DeMichillie, director of Google (GOOG) Cloud Platform. Changes to the spreadsheet then replicate to the BigQuery table via a live link.

And, in the other direction, data analysts who sift through mounds of data in BigQuery often need to present it in a way that makes sense to business people, and that’s what Sheets integration gives them.

“This is the first of many integrations to come between Google Apps for Work and Google Cloud and is a big part of what Diane Greene is doing to bring our organizations together,” DeMichillie noted. Greene, former chief executive of VMware, is now the senior vice president spearheading Google’s cloud business.

Forrester Research (FORR) analyst Dave Bartoletti, said the tie-in between Sheets and BigQuery will be useful in wringing more value from lots of data.

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“The biggest hurdle for data scientists is to get to that first insight. The second hurdle is how to socialize that insight—’hey, Bob—did you see what that query told us?'” Bartoletti said via email.

“If the data geek can easily send a Sheet link to the business, verify that the insight is useful, and get moving on the next query, it’ll lower the barrier to that first insight.”

What Google is doing is comparable to the Microsoft (MSFT) Azure SQL link to Excel, Bartoletti continued. Microsoft Excel is the market leader in spreadsheets and a key part of Microsoft Office and Office 365 franchise of desktop applications.

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Big data parsing products like BigQuery and BigTable are Google’s ace in the hole here. Lots of data analysts, even those in Microsoft shops, want to use them. That means Google needs to tie its own apps to BigQuery or those users will spend all their time linking BigQuery to Office 365, the cloud version of Office.

Or as Bartoletti put it: “Ecosystem gravity matters and the link between Office apps and Azure is one of Azure’s key selling points for Microsoft Office-loving companies.”

For more on Google, watch:

Greene will discuss this Google Apps-Google Cloud integration work later Friday at the TieCon 2016 conference.


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