What is Anthos?
Recently, Google reported a general availability of Anthos. Anthos is an enterprise hybrid and multi-cloud platform. This platform is designed to allow users to run applications on-premise not just Google Cloud but also with other providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Anthos stands out as the tech behemoth’s official entry into the quarrel of data centers. Anthos is different from other public cloud services. It is not just a product but it is an umbrella brand for various services aligned with the themes of application modernization, cloud migration, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud management.
Despite the extensive coverage at Google Cloud Next and, of course, the general availability, the Anthos announcement was confusing. The documentation is sparse, and the service is not fully integrated with the self-service console. Except for the hybrid connectivity and multi-cloud application deployment, not much is known about this new technology from Google.
Building Blocks of Anthos-
1. Google Kubernetes Engine –
Kubernetes Engine is a central command and control center of Anthos. Clients utilize the GKE control plane to deal with the distributed infrastructure running in Google’s cloud on-premise data center and other cloud platforms
2. GKE On-prem–
Google is delivering a Kubernetes-based software platform which is consistent with GKE. Clients can deliver this on any compatible hardware and Google will manage the platform. Google will treat it as a logical extension of GKE from upgrading the versions of Kubernetes to applying the latest updates. It is necessary to consider that GKE On-prem runs as a virtual appliance on top of VMware vSphere 6.5. The support for other hypervisors, such as Hyper-V and KVM is in process.
3. Istio –
This technology empowers federated network management across the platform. Istio acts as the service work that connects various components of applications deployed across the data center, GCP, and other clouds. It integrates with software defined networks such as VMware NSX, Cisco ACI, and of course Google’s own Andromeda. Customers with existing investments in network appliances can integrate Istio with load balancers and firewalls also.
4. Velostrata –
Google gained this cloud migration technology in 2018 to enlarge it for Kubernetes. Velostrata conveys two significant capabilities – stream on-prem physical/virtual machines to create replicas in GCE instances and convert existing VMs into Kubernetes applications (Pods).
This is the industry’s first physical-to-Kubernetes (P2K) migration tool built by Google. This capability is available as Anthos Migrate, which is still in beta.
5. Anthos Config Management –
Kubernetes is an extensible and policy-driven platform. Anthos’ customers have to deal with multiple Kubernetes deployments running across a variety of environments so Google attempts to simplify configuration management through Anthos. From deployment artifacts, configuration settings, network policies, secrets and passwords, Anthos Config Management can maintain and apply the configuration to one or more clusters. This technology Is a version-controlled, secure, central repository of all things related to policy and configuration also.
6. Stackdriver –
Stackdriver carries observability to Anthos infrastructure and applications. Customers can locate the state of clusters running within Anthos with the health of applications delivered in each managed cluster. It acts as the centralized monitoring, logging, tracing, and observability platform.
7. GCP Cloud Interconnect –
Any hybrid cloud platform is incomplete without high-speed connectivity between the enterprise data center and the cloud infrastructure. While connecting the data center with the cloud, cloud interconnect can deliver speeds up to 100Gbps. Customers can also use Telco networks offered by Equinix, NTT Communications, Softbank and others for extending their data center to GCP.
8. GCP Marketplace –
Google has created a list of ISV and open source applications that can run on Kubernetes. Customers can deploy applications such as Cassandra database and GitLab in Anthos with the one-click installer. In the end, Google may offer a private catalog of apps maintained by internal IT.
Greenfield vs. Brownfield Applications-
The central theme of Anthos is application modernization. Google conceives a future where all enterprise applications will run on Kubernetes.
To that end, it invested in technologies such as Velostrata that perform in-place upgradation of VMs to containers. Google built a plug-in for VMware vRealize to convert existing VMs into Kubernetes Pods. Even stateful workloads such as PostgreSQL and MySQL can be migrated and deployed as Stateful Sets in Kubernetes. In general Google’s style, the company is downplaying the migration of on-prem VMs to cloud VMs. But Velostrata’s original offering was all about VMs.
Customers using traditional business applications like SAP, Oracle Financials and also Peoplesoft can continue to run them in on-prem VMs or select to migrate them to Compute Engine VMs. Anthos can provide interoperability between VMs and also containerized apps running in Kubernetes. With Anthos, Google wants all your contemporary microservices-based applications (greenfield) in Kubernetes while migrating existing VMs (brownfield) to containers. Applications running in non-x86 architecture and legacy apps will continue to run either in physical or virtual machines.
Google’s Kubernetes Landgrab-
When Docker started to get traction among developers, Google realized that it’s the best time to release Kubernetes in the world. It also moved fast in offering the industry’s first managed Kubernetes in the public cloud. As there are various managed Kubernetes offerings, GKE is still the best platform to run microservices.
With a detailed understanding of Kubernetes and also the substantial investments it made, Google wants to assert its claim in the brave new world of containers and microservices. The company wants enterprises to leapfrog from VMs to Kubernetes to run their modern applications.
Anthos is a bright release of Google. It is taking a calculated risk in moving away from the cliched hybrid cloud narrative that its competitors are using to lure enterprises. Anthos is compared with Microsoft Azure Stack and AWS hybrid story consisting of VMware and Outposts also. The main difference between Google and the remaining lies in the technology foundation strongly rooted in containers and Kubernetes.
Google wants to capitalize on its pole position in the Kubernetes and cloud native ecosystem. It moved really fast to build an enterprise strategy around Kubernetes. With Anthos, Google aims to become the VMware of container ecosystem. It is precisely doing what VMware did to push its hypervisor and software-defined infrastructure in the enterprise.
But Microsoft is also investing largely in containers and Kubernetes. It is minimizing the gap between Azure and Azure Stack by incorporating its flagship public cloud services to the private cloud. Microsoft can play back the Anthos track with its Azure Kubernetes Service. It will be interesting to see what Redmond wants to do with Kubernetes on Azure Stack. If everything plays out in Google’s favor, Anthos will eventually be the preferred platform to run enterprise workloads.
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