Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are becoming the new normal in today’s world. According to a leading research firm, 62% of public cloud adopters are using more than two unique public cloud environments and around 74% enterprises describe their strategy as hybrid/multi-cloud. Google, one of the leading cloud vendors in the industry, is also working to make a mark here with its new hybrid offering for enterprises – Anthos. It is a modern application management platform that provides a consistent development and operations experience for cloud and on-premises (on-prem) environments. This Google cloud platform (GCP) lets you utilize your existing on-prem hardware investments to run applications (unmodified) or consume them in the public cloud and helps IT administrators and developers manage the complexity of distributed applications.
Core building blocks of Anthos
Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE): It can be considered as the heart of Anthos. Management of the distributed infrastructure running on Google Cloud, on-prem data center, and other cloud platforms, is carried out utilizing the GKE control plane.
GKE On-Prem: This software platform allows you to take advantage of Kubernetes and cloud technology in a private cloud consistent with GKE. It can be deployed on any existing hardware and the platform management will be taken care of by Google. Hypervisors other than VMware are not yet supported. VMware vSphere 6.5 is required as GKE On-Prem runs on top of it as a virtual appliance.
Google recently announced its partnership with Dell, Lenovo, Cisco, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) for building the underlying private cloud piece.
Istio: Network management is enabled over the Google cloud platform through Istio. It provides the service mesh required to interface with various components of applications deployed across the data center, Google cloud platform, and other clouds. VMware’s NSX, Cisco’s ACI, and Google’s Andromeda can integrate with Istio seamlessly. It also allows for integration with existing investments in network appliances such as load balancers and firewalls.
Velostrata: It is the industry’s first physical-to-Kubernetes (P2K) migration tool built by Google and forms the core for Anthos Migrate (still in its beta stage). Two significant capabilities provided by Velostrata are – conversion of existing VMs into Kubernetes applications (Pods) and creating replicas in GCE instances by streaming on-prem physical/virtual machines.
Anthos Config Management (ACM): ACM attempts to simplify the management of multiple Kubernetes deployments running across various environments. It manages to do so by having a central repository (of all the things related to policy and configuration) that is secure, version-controlled, and can maintain and apply the configuration to one or more clusters.
Stackdriver: It provides centralized logging, monitoring, tracing, and observability platform which provides customers with the ability to track the state of Anthos clusters along with the health of applications deployed in each managed cluster.
GCP Cloud Interconnect: Every hybrid cloud platform requires high-speed connectivity between DC and cloud. This requirement is being fulfilled by Cloud Interconnect which can deliver speeds of up to a staggering 100Gbps. Google has a list of identified locations (increasing every day) where this can be utilized for low latencies for running workloads in hybrid cloud scenarios.
“Anthos not only allows customers to deploy Google Cloud in their data centers, but also gives them the flexibility to build, run, and manage their workloads within their data center, on Google Cloud, or other cloud providers (Multi-Cloud), without making any changes.” – Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud
Google is aiming at making Anthos the driver behind bringing together all the greenfield, contemporary microservices-based applications in Kubernetes and migrating brownfield, existing VMs to the containers. It also understands that not everything can run on a public cloud and therefore, Anthos gives it the necessary benefit of hybrid cloud technology, wherein clients can choose to run a workload anywhere.
Being the founder of Kubernetes, Google has in-depth knowledge about it and is leveraging that in the world of microservices and containers. When compared to Microsoft Azure Stack and AWS Outposts, the difference lies in the technology foundation. In the case of Anthos, it revolves mainly around containers and Kubernetes. Anthos lets the users achieve on-prem and cloud integration without buying new hardware as opposed to VMware Outposts and Microsoft Azure Stack. Existing hardware can be used to run it on top of vSphere, lowering the costs and complexity significantly. Also, Anthos supports ‘any cloud’ or ‘multi-cloud’ with native support for GCP, AWS, and Azure. This can be termed as a differentiator as most enterprises are using multi-cloud either for different services they offer or due to some geo-centric features.
Does Google have a partner ecosystem in place?
For Anthos, Google has already launched a set of partners both in the ISV and SI spaces. It was also witnessed during the launch that more than a dozen ISVs were already supporting Anthos. Variety of platform providers like Citrix, MongoDB, NetApp, Elastic, VMware, Splunk, GitLab, JFrog, DataStax, Elastifile, Robin, Sysdig, F5, and others are integrating their software with Anthos. Extension of Cisco’s HyperFlex, SD_WAN, ACI, SD-WAN to Anthos and integration of VMware’s NSX with Istio running with Anthos are some of the examples. This strong partner ecosystem would help enterprises build a hybrid, multi-cloud ecosystem, which would allow them to use their existing investments (software & hardware) to leverage Anthos for the same. Also, partners such as VMware, Lenovo, Dell EMC, HPE, Intel, and others would help their customers deliver Anthos on their own Hyperconverged Infrastructure providing customers with the flexibility and advantage of choosing their own hardware based on the requirement. Most importantly, such a strong ecosystem builds trust amongst the customers in the industry for Google Anthos and its capabilities.
Is Google Anthos Enterprise Ready?
During the launch of Anthos, Thomas Kurian, CEO Google Cloud, was accompanied by executives from VMware and Cisco, which showed the kind of confidence they have in this Google cloud platform and the investments they are making to have Anthos enterprise-ready, faster than ever.
The perception of Kubernetes has always been that of a geeky and highly technical platform suitable for and understood only by developers and operators. With Anthos, Google is trying to change the perception to a viable and highly reliable enterprise-grade hybrid cloud platform instead. Kubernetes has a Web UI (Dashboard) - it is an intuitive interface and is easier to manage and operate as compared to the console. Be it deploying troubleshooting containerized app or managing cluster resources, everything can be done from the dashboard. It also provides information about errors and the state of Kubernetes cluster resources.
The enterprise infrastructure market for Anthos will depend a lot on the collaboration and partnership with key industry players and would require Google to leverage it to the best of its ability.
Does it Impact the Industry Dynamics/Hybrid Cloud Ecosystem?
Google Anthos offers ample benefits to enterprise customers such as:
- Single pane of glass view across all environments with simplified operations
- Increased business agility with faster Go-to-Market (GTM) and improved resource utilization by modernizing applications
- No forced stack refresh: Since it is a 100% software-based solution, it provides utilization of the existing hardware
- Flexibility to work with existing infra (or s/w) partners owing to Google’s partnership with more than 30 major hardware and software partners
Community and vendor ecosystem also play a major role in today’s scenario and Google Anthos must rely on them for its success. This results in a pool of opportunity for emerging start-ups such as Tigera, Confluent, and others working towards developing niche products to complete the stack of cloud-native computing.
Google’s hybrid push with Anthos also opens various avenues for service providers/system integrators translating into multi-million-dollar services opportunities which would also accelerate the adoption of Kubernetes and benefit the overall cloud-native ecosystem.