Transport giant picks up Google Cloud AI to aid package delivery, tracking

When an exec asked for help tackling supply-chain woes, were they told to 'just Google it' or what?

Even in the waning days of the pandemic, extended lead times and delayed packages are an inescapable reality. Logistics giant XPO this week picked Google Cloud to try to change that.

XPO is among the largest freight-transport brokers with more than 42,000 employees operating in 731 global locations. In a collaborative effort with Google, the company plans to deploy workloads on Google Cloud Platforms’s (GCP) AI/ML and data analytics platforms to mitigate supply-chain disruptions and improve package delivery and tracking services.

“We’re bringing out innovative AI/ML and data analytics solutions to XPO to help it transform supply chain management, ensure its deliveries are on time, and give its customers an accurate, up-to-date view on the location of their freight," Hans Thalbauer, managing director for global supply chain logistics at Google Cloud, said in a statement Monday.

Supply chain challenges are by no means unique to XPO. In the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns — yes, those are still a thing — and more recently the war in Ukraine, supply chains for everything from raw materials and high-tech components to global shipping has been thrown out of whack.

XPO hopes to sidestep many of these challenges using several GCP services, including its Vertex AI Workbench.

Introduced late last year, the platform provides a single dashboard for data scientists to deploy machine learning models, ingest data, and analyze the results. XPO plans to use the service to develop new algorithms to optimize its supply chain, while also improving its existing load-matching and pricing models.

In addition to Vertex AI, the company also plans to deploy workloads on GCP’s BigQuery data warehousing and Looker data analytics platforms to improve network planning, tracking, and to identify potential disruptions that would otherwise result in delays.

Collectively, the company says these developments help it optimize route, lane assignments, and reduce the number of empty miles driven by its trucking and delivery fleet.

In addition to modernizing its supply chain software tools, XPO also touts the deal as a means to reduce its not inconsiderable carbon footprint.

As part of Google’s lofty sustainability goals, the cloud provider offsets 100 percent of the electricity consumed by its datacenters with carbon-free energy. By moving its workloads from on-prem datacenters and colocation facilities, XPO says it’s actively reducing its impact on the climate. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Google recasts Anthos with hitch to AWS Outposts
    If at first you don't succeed, change names and try again

    Google Cloud's Anthos on-prem platform is getting a new home under the search giant’s recently announced Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) portfolio, where it will live on as a software-based competitor to AWS Outposts and Microsoft Azure Stack.

    Introduced last fall, GDC enables customers to deploy managed servers and software in private datacenters and at communication service provider or on the edge.

    Its latest update sees Google reposition Anthos on-prem, introduced back in 2020, as the bring-your-own-server edition of GDC. Using the service, customers can extend Google Cloud-style management and services to applications running on-prem.

    Continue reading
  • End of the road for biz living off free G Suite legacy edition
    Firms accustomed to freebies miffed that web giant's largess doesn't last

    After offering free G Suite apps for more than a decade, Google next week plans to discontinue its legacy service – which hasn't been offered to new customers since 2012 – and force business users to transition to a paid subscription for the service's successor, Google Workspace.

    "For businesses, the G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available after June 27, 2022," Google explains in its support document. "Your account will be automatically transitioned to a paid Google Workspace subscription where we continue to deliver new capabilities to help businesses transform the way they work."

    Small business owners who have relied on the G Suite legacy free edition aren't thrilled that they will have to pay for Workspace or migrate to a rival like Microsoft, which happens to be actively encouraging defectors. As noted by The New York Times on Monday, the approaching deadline has elicited complaints from small firms that bet on Google's cloud productivity apps in the 2006-2012 period and have enjoyed the lack of billing since then.

    Continue reading
  • Google battles bots, puts Workspace admins on alert
    No security alert fatigue here

    Google has added API security tools and Workspace (formerly G-Suite) admin alerts about potentially risky configuration changes such as super admin passwords resets.

    The API capabilities – aptly named "Advanced API Security" – are built on top of Apigee, the API management platform that the web giant bought for $625 million six years ago.

    As API data makes up an increasing amount of internet traffic – Cloudflare says more than 50 percent of all of the traffic it processes is API based, and it's growing twice as fast as traditional web traffic – API security becomes more important to enterprises. Malicious actors can use API calls to bypass network security measures and connect directly to backend systems or launch DDoS attacks.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022