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A look at Looker in 2021

January 5, 2021
Pedro Arellano

Director, Outbound Product Management, Looker at Google Cloud

Happy New Year, everyone! It feels like this greeting carries more meaning than usual as we turn the page on a most challenging year. We now look forward to 2021 with hopes that the new year brings health, happiness, prosperity and, most of all, a much needed sense of normalcy.

Despite the difficulties of the last year, we at Looker have many things to be thankful for, with continued growth and tremendous business momentum to start the year. This is a testament to the relentless dedication of our employees and the amazing support of our customers and partners.

As we look ahead to the coming year, we are excited to continue driving our product vision forward, and wish to share our enthusiasm about the innovative projects we’ll be working on. Here is an overview of Looker’s product roadmap in 2021.

Key product themes for 2021

Looker’s mission is to empower people through the smarter use of data. This year we’ll continue to work toward our mission, focusing our efforts in four key areas.

  • Enterprise: Deliver a scalable platform that can support the most complex data requirements for organizations of all sizes.
  • Customizable platform: Enable customers to leverage a powerful development platform to build all kinds of data-driven experiences.
  • Open and integrated: Deepen our integration with Google Cloud while supporting our customers’ choice of cloud and database platforms.
  • Simple and easy to use: Continue to make it easier for all types of users — analysts, admins, developers, consumers, etc. — to work with Looker.


Today, the Looker platform supports more than 2,000 organizations of different sizes. One of our biggest customers, with a client base of 200 million users, built a custom solution to deliver valuable insights that help their user base make data-driven decisions and take actions. This customer runs 10,000 queries per minute in Looker, and the results come back in less than 3 seconds. Looker’s powerful architecture provides high performance and real-time analytics for their massive user base.

In 2021, we are pushing this even further by investing in capabilities that will not only enable you to deliver an even more scalable, performant, and reliable Looker solutions to accelerate your business, but also provide a more self-service and flexible administration experience.

In particular, look for system activity improvements to better understand dashboard performance, enhancements to aggregate awareness to bring performance boosts to more kinds of analyses, lifecycle management for testing and deploying content reliably, robust data transformations, and automated model generation.

Customizable platform

Nearly half of our customers use Looker to deliver data applications) that go beyond dashboards. This shows that companies are discovering innovative ways to get value from their data, become more competitive, and discover new value streams

Successful data-driven companies recognize that different people will work with data in different ways. These organizations will choose solutions that enable them to deliver data experiences tailored to each person’s role, from modern BI and integrated insights to data-driven workflows and custom data apps. This is why in 2021 we’re working to make our development platform more powerful and easier to use.

We’re approaching this from three angles:

  1. Giving you more tools to work with. We’re aiming to bring many of last year’s development tools out of beta and into general availability (GA): the Extension FrameworkAPI Explorer, Developer Portal, and Marketplace, to name a few.

  2. Making it easier for you to build Looker extensions. Deploy JavaScript applications and leverage third party APIs to create new and augmented data experiences in our core product. Keep your eye out for further integration of components into the Extension Framework and the Embed SDK.

  3. Giving you a head start on integrations with other services. Some of Looker’s native capabilities — like data movement, content governance, and data actions — become even more impactful when integrated with services like Google Marketing Platform and Google’s Contact Center AI, which we released last year. In 2021, expect more work with GCP solutions that will ultimately deliver more value for you.

Open and integrated

It is clear that companies want the freedom to choose the data stack that works best for them, and we get that. Looker has been multicloud friendly and database agnostic from the very beginning.

In 2021 we will remain committed to our multicloud strategy, evolving with the technology landscape and giving organizations the ability to perform analytics across the diversity of customer data ecosystems. Looker supports native integration with leading cloud data warehouses such as Google BigQuery, AWS Redshift, Athena, Azure SQL DW, and Snowflake. Looker is built to work in any cloud and with any database. By offering flexible cloud deployment options — in Google Cloud, AWS, Microsoft Azure (coming early this year), or inside a customer’s VPC — Looker can adapt to your specific needs.

We also continue to invest in security and compliance. We have a wide range of security certifications that we are continually adding to. By integrating into the broader GCP infrastructure, we will be able to offer additional controls to enable customers to deploy scalable and secure analytics environments with confidence.

Simple and easy to use

In 2020, we brought our reimagined Looker dashboards to GA and made several enhancements to the Explore module, making the experience easier, faster, and more intuitive. This year, we will continue working on capabilities that will simplify the user experience by building on our new dashboards, and improving our exploration experiences.

One of the areas we are most excited about is bringing GCP’s best in class AI and ML technologies into Looker. We will be investing in augmented analytics capabilities to empower citizen data scientists, as well as natural language processing for users to effortlessly get quick answers to their questions.

Another exciting area of investment will be a no-code self-service experience for end users to build analytic workflows, enabling them to conduct deeper analysis with significantly less effort.

We are also working on several features that will make it easier for new users to get started, for everyone to find valuable insights, and integrating with Google Workspace to give people the ability to interact with your data outside of the Looker interface. We also want to ensure everybody can use Looker by being fully 508 AA compliant.

In addition, we’re aiming to make common administrative processes simpler at scale for those of you with large deployments, meaning you manage lots of users and a deep well of models and content.

Introducing Looker 21

To better reflect Looker’s established policy of releasing important features throughout the year, rather than waiting for a single major release, we’re updating our product version numbering to increment with the calendar year — so get ready to move from Looker 7.x to Looker 21.x! Beginning with version 21.0 in January, we’re simplifying our version numbering and making it easier for you to track the version you’re using so you can keep up to date with the latest product enhancements (and put them to good use).

This new version numbering does not alter our established release cadence. We’ll continue to innovate throughout the year and release new updates monthly to deliver features you’ve asked for. Expect more announcements from us as we introduce features aligned with our key product themes for 2021.

On behalf of the entire Looker team, I want to thank you, our customers and partners, for your continued support. Your invaluable feedback guides our product direction, and your success inspires us to keep pushing forward. It’s a very exciting time in the data and analytics space. We look forward to the work ahead and can’t wait to bring you all these innovative features. Happy 2021 from the Looker team to you.

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