Google at NAB 2017

With the exception of Grace Hopper, all conferences I attend or speak at are pretty much focused on Cloud, Networking, Software-defined everything, Security, Open Source and the like (Google Cloud NEXT, Open Networking Summit, Openstack Summit, VMworld, RSA and others …). So it was eye-opening to attend the NAB Show (April 22nd-27th, 2017) in Las Vegas this year for the first time— a conference really different from the ones I typically attend and yet very similar.

For those of you who are NAB newbies like me — NAB Show is one of the largest annual gatherings of radio and television broadcasters as well as media and entertainment vendors. NAB’s theme for this year’s conference was “The M.E.T. Effect” — the convergence of media, entertainment and technology.


Google and Google Cloud had a significant presence at NAB this year. I attended the first two days of NAB as a part of the Google Cloud team. First of all — a huge shout out to the Google Cloud Media team which put in tremendous effort to highlight the turnkey and bleeding edge technologies that make Google Cloud a compelling place to deliver media workloads and services.

From the two days I spent talking to ~500 attendees from among the ten thousand+ that visited Google Cloud Exhibits/hub at NAB, listening to talks, and exploring the conference, here are the top 10 highlights that are still fresh in my mind:

  1. NAB Show is huge.. really huge

Let me start by quantifying “huge”:

  • 103,443 attendees
  • Countries represented: 161
  • 1,806 companies
  • 1,091,792 net square feet of exhibit space
(Source: Google)

Google was in the South part of the conference venue — the South part itself was so huge that I did not get a chance to venture out to the North part (and I was told I missed some really cool drones which was fine because in a few years they will be delivering my grocery anyways :)).

2. Media companies are getting serious about the cloud, including public cloud.. but they need a blueprint to get started.

Media companies are seriously exploring moving to and leveraging the Cloud and they are facing the same challenges that enterprises did when they got serious about the Cloud. Most of the visitors to Google exhibits and booths started with — “I love Google and Google Cloud’s offerings but where and how do I start?”

Google Cloud can really make a huge difference in how media content, workloads and services are created and delivered, but we need to meet media customers where they are and work with them lockstep to help them leverage Google Cloud’s platforms, services and innovations.

3. Machine learning for Media is no longer science fiction.. and Google Cloud is democratizing it.

With any “cool” technology, the first set of questions to ask is — “What problems does this technology solve for me? What new business models does it enable? What can I do now that I could not earlier? Why should I care?”

These were the questions we set out to answer for Machine Learning. Google Cloud has always been big on Machine Learning and that’s because it has done amazing things for Google. And this is just the beginning…

Source: Google

Tariq’s keynote and several other Google talks (such as the talk on Machine Learning for Media by Amit Pande, Product Manager at Google) and demos detailed how Machine Learning is in Google’s DNA and how customers can reap similar benefits by using it. Tariq’s talk described several examples such as an in-depth look at how machine learning can completely remake the video supply chain, delivering significant benefits to existing components and processes and helping create new revenue models.

Source: Tariq’s keynote at NAB (

4. It was incredible to see the effect of “One Google” on NAB attendees.. because that’s when they realized their Google “media” toolkit was much larger than they had initially imagined.

Six Google teams — Google Cloud, DoubleClick, YouTube, Chrome Media, Android TV and Jump — came together at NAB to present a powerful toolkit for creating, hosting and delivering media content and workloads.

NAB attendees were excited to see that their media delivery arsenal on Google Cloud not only comprised of all of the industry leading media platforms below…

Google Cloud Media Platforms (Source: Our Google Cloud Slides at NAB)

but also of all these below and more..

Google Cloud Platform Media Toolkit (Source: Our Google Cloud Slides at NAB)

5. Democratization, innovation and openness — themes that are pervasive in Google Cloud Next and many other conferences — resonated really well with NAB attendees..

In addition to Machine Learning, another example of this was Google’s Yi Halo launch. Read more about this in Google’s New $17,000 Camera Aims to Democratize VR Content Creation

Yi Halo — the next gen Jump camera (Source: Google)

6. Google talks were a huge success because they covered a lot of ground.. proving that it takes a diverse set of talks to engage and delight a diverse set of attendees.

The range of topics covered in Google’s keynote, talks and theater presentations ensured that every NAB attendee had something of interest to learn about. Tariq’s keynote described the future of media delivery and highlighted why Google Cloud is a compelling proposition for NAB attendees.(view his keynote video and blog post for details). To get a flavor of Google talks, here is a lineup of theater talks from Day 1 and Day 2:

Theater talks Day 1 and Day 2

You can view the entire list of Google talks at NAB here.

7. Google’s global, high performance network and Content Delivery infrastructure are key differentiators

Google’s global, high performance network and content delivery infrastructure provide the underpinnings of Google Cloud Platform and continue to differentiate Google Cloud compared to other public Clouds.

Google’s high performance Global Network and CDN (Source: Google)

Google’s Global Network, Cloud CDN, Cloud storage options, connectivity for on-prem and multi-cloud deployments, data ingestion, data analytics and steps for migrating to Google Cloud dominated the conversations at Google’s “Future Proof Infrastructure” booth at NAB.

Google Cloud’s “Future Proof Infrastructure” booth at NAB

8. NAB seemed much more “diverse” than traditional Cloud and Networking conferences

Right from keynotes to talks to demos to attendees, I saw a much larger population of women, African American and other such (“typically classified as minority”- I am not particularly fond of that word :)) attendees compared to networking/cloud conferences. While a part of this can be attributed to the size of the conference, the numbers seemed larger as a percentage of total attendees as well (and I would love to look at stats if anyone has related pointers).

9. Lastly a set of links that recap announcements by Google at NAB:

10. Until next year..

All in all, it was amazing talking to media customers (current and potential) and seeing many of these folks begin their move to or expand their footprint in the Cloud (Google Cloud :)). Plus how often do you see movie stars, broadcasting companies, networking vendors, Cloud Providers, Camera equipment, Virtual Reality, Machine learning, and drones come together into one big melting pot of media, entertainment and technology? I generally don’t and that’s what made NAB really exciting for a NAB newbie like me!

Source: NAB show/Google
Source: Google/NAB show