While it always sounds nice to talk about complete solutions that a single company can offer, in today’s reality of multi-vendor IT environments, it’s often better if everyone can play together. The strategy team over at Google Cloud seems to be particularly conscious of this principle lately and are working to extend the reach of GCP and their Anthos platform into more places.
Last week, Google made several announcements, including a partnership with Cisco that will better connect Cisco’s software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) tools with Google Cloud. Google also announced the production release of Anthos for Amazon’s AWS and a preview release of Anthos for Microsoft’s Azure cloud. These two new Anthos tools are applications/services for both migrating and managing cloud workloads to and from GCP to AWS or Azure respectively.
The Cisco-Google partnership offering is officially called the Cisco SD-WAN Hub with Google Cloud. It provides a manageable private connection for applications all the way from an enterprise’s data center to the cloud. Many organizations use SD-WAN tools to manage the connections between branches of an office or other intra-company networks, but the new tools extend that reach to Google’s GCP cloud platform. What this means is that companies can see, manage, and measure the applications they share over SD-WAN connections from within their organizations all the way out to the cloud.
Specifically, the new connection fabric being put into place with this service (which is expected to be previewed at the end of this year) will allow companies to do things like maintain service-level agreements, compliance policies, security settings, and more for applications that reach into the cloud. Without this type of connectivity, companies have been limited to maintaining these services only for internal applications. In addition, the Cisco-powered connection gives companies the flexibility to put portions of an application in one location (for example, running AI/ML algorithms in the cloud), while running another portion, such as the business logic, on a private cloud, but managing them all through Google’s Anthos.
Given the growing interest and usage of hybrid cloud computing principles—where applications can be run both within local private clouds and in public cloud environments—these connection and management capabilities are critically important. In fact, according to the TECHnalysis Research Hybrid and Multi-Cloud study, roughly 86% of organizations that have any type of cloud computing efforts are running private clouds, and 83% are running hybrid clouds, highlighting the widespread use of these computing models and the strategically important need for this extended reach.
Of course, in addition to hybrid cloud, there’s been a tremendous increase in both interest and usage of multi-cloud computing, where companies leverage more than one different cloud provider. In fact, according to the same study, 99% of organizations that leverage cloud computing use more than one public cloud provider. Appropriately enough, the other Anthos announcements from Google were focused on the ability to potentially migrate and to manage cloud-based applications across multiple providers. Specifically, the company’s Anthos for AWS allows companies to move existing workloads from Amazon’s Web Services to GCP (or the other way, if they prefer). Later this year, the production version of Anthos for Azure will bring the same capabilities to and from Microsoft’s cloud platform.
While the theoretical concept of moving workloads back and forth across providers, based on things like pricing or capability changes, sounds interesting, realistically speaking, even Google doesn’t expect workload migration to be the primary focus of Anthos. Instead, just having the potential to make the move gives companies the ability to avoid getting locked into a single cloud provider.
More importantly, Anthos is designed to provide a single, consistent management backplane to an organization’s cloud workloads, allowing them all to be managed from a single location—eventually, regardless of the public cloud platform on which they’re running. In addition, like many other vendors, Google incorporates a number of technologies into Anthos that lets companies modernize their applications. The ability to move applications running inside virtual machines into containers, for example, and then to leverage the Kubernetes-based container management technologies that Anthos is based on, for example, is something that a number of organizations have been investigating.
Ultimately, all of these efforts appear to be focused on making hybrid, multi-cloud computing efforts more readily accessible and more easily manageable for companies of all sizes. Industry discussions on these issues have been ongoing for years now, but efforts like these emphasize that they’re finally becoming real and that it takes the efforts of multiple vendors (or tools that work across multiple platforms) to make them happen.