Google's app management platform aims to connect clouds -- even AWS, Microsoft Azure

At the Google Cloud Next Conference, the cloud provider announced the general availability of Anthos, a multi-cloud platform based on Google's Cloud Services Platform.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Google on Tuesday announced Anthos, a generally available platform for managing applications on premise or in the cloud -- whether that's Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or its competitors like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. The software-based platform is based on Cloud Services Platform, which Google rolled out last year for building and managing services in GCP or on-premise.

Anthos currently supports on-premise environments and GCP, and it will soon be "everywhere," Urs Hölzle, Google's SVP for technical infrastructure, told reporters earlier in the week, "so you can use one consistent, one open source-based approach across all environments." 

"This is really the stack for the next 20 years," he said.

The move to open up Anthos to other clouds acknowledges the growing reliance on multi-cloud strategies. Increasingly, enterprises are taking a cloud-first approach to IT, even as hybrid models still abound. Yet concerns about performance and vendor lock-in are driving enterprises to consider multiple cloud environments. Containers have been a key element enabling multi-cloud adoption -- but they may also lead to cost overruns.

For new Google Cloud Chief Thomas Kurian, the multi-cloud effort is part of a broader vision to expand the cloud provider's footprint, bolster sales reach and target industry specific use cases. 


Kurian launches Anthos, a mulit-cloud effort from Google Cloud Platform. 

"We hear from our customers that multi-cloud and hybrid is an acute pain point," Hölzle said. Using multiple clouds without a solid strategy, he said, "is a guaranteed way to increase operational cost and operational complexity and fragment developers even more."

Anthos leverages open APIs. Based on GKE, Google's managed Kubernetes service, it automatically provides feature updates and security patches. All of an application's computation and storage remains in the environment of the customer's choosing, Hölzle explained -- Google is effectively just a control plane.

Also: Top cloud providers 2019: AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud; IBM makes hybrid move; Salesforce dominates SaaS | Google Cloud Platform: An insider's guide (TechRepublic download) | Vendor comparison: Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud (Tech Pro Research)   

The new Anthos Migrate, in beta, auto-migrates VMs from on premise or other clouds directly into containers in GKE. It allows teams to migrate and modernize infrastructure without upfront modifications to the original VMs or applications.

Anthos, Hölzle said, brings customers "one step closer to the promise of being able to write and configure applications once and repeat them everywhere, either on premise or in the cloud."


The current "lift and shift" migration process is "kind of a big bang thing" that happens all at once, Hölzle said. Then, "if you ever change your mind, you have to do the same thing again," he continued.

By contrast, he said, with Anthos, "you can move [an application] from A to B, and back to A and then to C... and you don't have to change a thing. All of that effort of modernization will pay off for the next 10 years."

The rollout of Anthos should help customers get over the mental roadblock they have with lock in, Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research told ZDNet. It gives customers a way to ease into GCP, she said.

"Now the heavy lift for Google is to get them to add more and more workloads," she said. "Google is winning innovation workloads. It can also win other workloads like SAP."

Some major customers already using Anthos include HSBC and Siemens, Google said.

Meanwhile, Google is launching Anthos with more than 30 hardware, software and system integration partners. For instance, partners such as VMware, Dell EMC, HPE, Intel, and Lenovo, have committed to delivering Anthos on their own hyperconverged infrastructure for their customers. Additionally, more than 20 ISVs so far have committed to integrating their software with Anthos, including Netapp, Citrix, GitLab, DataStax and Splunk. Cisco will support customer integrations between Anthos and Cisco's data center, networking and security technologies.

Frank Gens, SVP and chief analyst for IDC, called Anthos "a major step forward in packaging these technologies in a way that lets customers start building this new cloud world, in which private and (multiple) public are interconnected and coherently managed."  

At the same time, he noted, Google's competitors also understand that the cloud needs to be anywhere customers want it to be. In the last 24 months all the major public cloud players -- Google, Microsoft, IBM, and AWS -- have been introducing technologies and products that bring their public cloud capabilities to customer on-prem and edge locations.  

"The next five years we'll see a new battle for cloud leadership around this 'cloud everywhere' vision," Gens said. 

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