The continuing spread of COVID-19 has led Alphabet's (GOOG -1.80%) (GOOGL -1.75%) Google to cancel one of its annual conferences for IT professionals and developers that was scheduled to begin on April 6.

Last year's Google Cloud Next event drew 30,000 attendees, but "out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our customers, partners and employees," the tech giant has transformed the three-day conference for this year into a virtual event and webinar.

Trade show crowd

Image source: Getty Images.

Taking cloud talk to the cloud

The Cloud Next conference is one tool that Google uses to woo developers to its services, which in turn helps it to compete with Microsoft's Azure and the market-leading Amazon Web Services. Alphabet has been trying to diversify its revenue stream away from advertising, and cloud services offer it one of its clearest opportunities, as it already operates massive data centers that allow it to easily take on more clients.

Participants in the streaming event will be able to freely tune in to the keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and educational classes that are scheduled. Another Alphabet developers conference, Google IO, scheduled to be held in Silicon Valley in May could also be shifted to an online-only event. The company says it will monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and make decisions based on how the situation evolves.

Other companies have begun canceling in-person events or switching them to online sessions. Target opted to make the financial update session it had scheduled to follow its earnings call today an online-only event, and Facebook last week canceled its annual F8 software developer conference.