Startups

Google Workspace, GKE help startup CAST AI grow faster and optimize cloud costs

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In many ways, serial entrepreneur Gil Laurent and his technology startups have grown alongside Google Workspace and Google Cloud. 

When he was CEO and co-founder of Ukraine-based Viewdle — a machine learning and computer vision startup that was acquired by Google in 2012 — the organization relied on Google Workspace for many of its collaboration needs, trading the complexity of email attachments and file versions for the cloud-synced availability of documents in Google Drive. 

A similar story played out a few years later when he co-founded Zenedge — a cybersecurity company focused on the edge of the network — which was acquired by Oracle in 2018. Zenedge still used a handful of other services to round out meetings and collaboration, but Google Workspace was the foundation. 

In 2019, when co-founding his latest venture — cloud cost management startup CAST AI — Laurent saw that he didn’t have to pay for additional services, as Google Workspace’s product suite included everything needed to connect his teams and workstreams. From onboarding new employees and getting them connected to their corporate email, to real-time collaboration and video conferencing, Google Workspace offered everything. 

“As a young startup, there was only one place to start—Google Workspace,”  recalled Laurent, who now serves as the company’s chief product officer. “We did not even consider anything else.”

Google Workspace is only one part of CAST AI’s Google product adoption, however. “Our whole business runs on GKE on Google Cloud,” Laurent said. The company was up and running on GKE (Google Kubernetes Engine) almost immediately after rolling out Google Workspace, and Laurent recalls a smooth transition. “It was very natural for everyone.” 

CAST AI is an end-to-end Kubernetes Automation and Management platform that helps businesses optimize their cloud costs by 63% on average. With an approach built on container orchestration, a product like GKE was necessary to efficiently run the company’s workloads and services.

Laurent explained that at Zenedge, the company struggled to understand how to control its cloud costs as it experienced growth: “We started out spending thousands per month with 10 engineers, which seemed right. But three years later, after continued growth, we were spending millions. We didn’t understand why. The bill could be 100 pages long.” 

When founding CAST AI, Laurent addressed this frustration head on, using containers to ensure their customers’ cloud resources weren’t going unused at such high rates. 

“Containers can be moved around, so you can optimize deployment to make them busy most of the time while eliminating waste,” Laurent said. “We knew we had to include automation. You can tell someone that they’re using 1,000 VMs and that 50 could be used better or more efficiently if moved to a different instance type — but in DevOps, who does this? The opportunities for optimization change daily and people are afraid of breaking things. We knew we had to find a way to offer not just observability but automated management.”

Choosing GKE was “easy because Google invented Kubernetes, and GKE is the state of the art, with its implementation of the full Kubernetes API, autoscaling, multi-cluster support, and other features that set the trend.” Laurent added that the company also took advantage of the Google for Startups Cloud Program to scale up its business by tapping into extended benefits like tailored mentorship and coverage for their Google Cloud usage for two years. 

Many startups adopt Google Workspace to connect and engage in real-time with their teams, but quickly learn that leveraging other Google offerings — such as cloud solutions and the Google for Startups Cloud Program — can be very helpful to further their startup's growth. For CAST AI, the combination of GKE on Google Cloud and Google Workspace proved especially valuable because the company was founded in late 2019, just months before the global pandemic began. The CAST AI team needed sophisticated cloud services to build their product, in addition to collaboration and productivity tools that could accommodate remote workers in different countries. 

“The idea that you can work in any place at any time without tradeoffs, whether you’re in Madrid or Miami — that helps a lot,” Laurent said. “Without GKE and Google Workspace, I am not sure we could have achieved all that we have so far.”

To learn more about how Google Workspace and Google Cloud help startups like CAST AI accelerate their journey — from connecting and collaborating to building and innovating — visit our startups solutions pages for Google Workspace and Google Cloud.