Aug
25
2020
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Google Cloud Anthos update brings support for on-prem, bare metal

When Google announced Anthos last year at Google Cloud Next, it was a pretty big deal. Here was a cloud company releasing a product that purported to help you move your applications between cloud companies like AWS and Azure — GCP’s competitors — because it’s what customers demanded.

Google tapped into genuine anxiety that tech leaders at customer companies are having over vendor lock-in in the cloud. Back in the client-server days, most of these folks got locked into a tech stack where they were at the mercy of the vendor. It’s something companies desperately want to avoid this go-round.

With Anthos, Google claimed you could take an application, package it in a container and then move it freely between clouds without having to rewrite it for the underlying infrastructure. It was and remains a compelling idea.

This year, the company is updating the product to include a couple of specialty workloads that didn’t get into version 1.0 last year. For starters, many customers aren’t just multi-cloud, meaning they have workloads on various infrastructure cloud vendors, they are also hybrid. That means they still have workloads on-prem in their own data centers, as well as in the cloud, and Google wanted to provide a way to include these workloads in Anthos.

Pali Bhat, VP of product and design at Google Cloud, says they have heard customers still have plenty of applications on premises and they want a way to package them as containerized, cloud-native workloads.

“They do want to be able to bring all of the benefits of cloud to both their own data centers, but also to any cloud they choose to use. And what Anthos enables them to do is go on this journey of modernization and digital transformation and be able to take advantage of it by writing once and running it anywhere, and that’s a really cool vision,” Bhat said.

And while some companies have made the move from on prem to the cloud, they still want the comfort of working on bare metal where they are the only tenant. The cloud typically offers a multi-tenant environment where users share space on servers, but bare metal gives a customer the benefits of being in the cloud with the ability to control their own destiny as they do on prem.

Customers were asking for Anthos to support bare metal, and so Google gave the people what they wanted and are releasing a beta of Anthos for bare metal this week, which Bhat says provides the answer for companies looking to have the benefits of Anthos at the edge.

“[The bare metal support] lets customers run Anthos […] at edge locations without using any hypervisor. So this is a huge benefit for customers who are looking to minimize unnecessary overhead and unlock new use cases, especially both in the cloud and on the edge,” Bhat said.

Anthos is part of a broader cloud modernization platform that Google Cloud is offering customers that includes GKE (the Kubernetes engine), Cloud Functions (the serverless offering) and Cloud Run (container run time platform). Bhat says this set of products taps into a couple of trends they are seeing with customers. First of all, as we move deeper into the pandemic, companies are looking for ways to cut costs while making a faster push to the cloud. The second is taking advantage of that push by becoming more agile and innovative.

It seems to be working. Bhat reports that in Q2, the company has seen a lot of interest. “One of the things in Q2 of 2020 that we’ve seen is that just Q2, over 100,000 companies used our application modernization platform and services,” he said.

Apr
09
2019
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Google’s hybrid cloud platform is coming to AWS and Azure

Google’s Cloud Services Platform for managing hybrid clouds that span on-premise data centers and the Google cloud is coming out of beta today. The company is also changing the product’s name to Anthos, a name that either refers to a lost Greek tragedy, the name of an obscure god in the Marvel universe or rosemary. That by itself would be interesting, but minor news. What makes this interesting is that Google also today announced that Anthos will run on third-party clouds, as well, including AWS and Azure.

“We will support Anthos and AWS and Azure as well, so people get one way to manage their application and that one way works across their on-premise environments and all other clouds,” Google’s senior VP for its technical infrastructure, Urs Hölzle, explained in a press conference ahead of today’s announcement.

So with Anthos, Google will offer a single managed service that will let you manage and deploy workloads across clouds, all without having to worry about the different environments and APIs. That’s a big deal and one that clearly delineates Google’s approach from its competitors’. This is Google, after all, managing your applications for you on AWS and Azure.

“You can use one consistent approach — one open-source based approach — across all environments,” Hölzle said. “I can’t really stress how big a change that is in the industry, because this is really the stack for the next 20 years, meaning that it’s not really about the three different clouds that are all randomly different in small ways. This is the way that makes these three cloud — and actually on-premise environments, too — look the same.”

Anthos/Google Cloud Services Platform is based on the Google Kubernetes Engine, as well as other open-source projects like the Istio service mesh. It’s also hardware agnostic, meaning that users can take their current hardware and run the service on top of that without having to immediately invest in new servers.

Why is Google doing this? “We hear from our customers that multi-cloud and hybrid is really an acute pain point,” Hölzle said. He noted that containers are the enabling technology for this but that few enterprises have developed a unifying strategy to manage these deployments and that it takes expertise in all major clouds to get the most out of them.

Enterprises already have major investments in their infrastructure and created relationships with their vendors, though, so it’s no surprise that Google is launching Anthos with more than 30 major hardware and software partners that range from Cisco to Dell EMC, HPE and VMware, as well as application vendors like Confluent, Datastax, Elastic, Portworx, Tigera, Splunk, GitLab, MongoDB and others.

Robin.io, a data management service that offers a hyper-converged storage platform based on Kubernetes, also tells me that it worked closely with Google to develop the Anthos Storage API. “Robin Storage offers bare metal performance, powerful data management capabilities and Kubernetes-native management to support running enterprise applications on Google Cloud’s Anthos across on-premises data centers and the cloud,” said Premal Buch, CEO of Robin.io.

Anthos is a subscription-based service, with the list prices starting at $10,000/month per 100 vCPU block. Enterprise prices will then be up for negotiation, though, so many customers will likely pay less.

It’s one thing to use a service like this for new applications, but many enterprises already have plenty of line-of-business tools that they would like to bring to the cloud as well. For them, Google is launching the first beta of Anthos Migrate today. This service will auto-migrate VMs from on-premises or other clouds into containers in the Google Kubernetes Engine. The promise here is that this is essentially an automatic process and once the container is on Google’s platform, you’ll be able to use all of the other features that come with the Anthos platform, too.

Google’s Hölzle noted that the emphasis here was on making this migration as easy as possible. “There’s no manual effort there,” he said.

Oct
29
2018
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Google beefs up Firebase platform for the enterprise

Today at the Firebase Summit in Prague, Google announced a number of updates to its Firebase app development platform designed to help it shift from an environment for individuals or small teams into a full-blown enterprise development tool.

Google acquired Firebase 4 years ago to help developers connect to key cloud tools like a database or storage via a set of software development kits (SDKs). Over time, it has layered on sophisticated functionality like monitoring to fix performance issues and access to analytics to see how users are engaging with the app, among other things. But the toolkit hasn’t necessarily been geared towards larger organizations until now.

“[Today’s announcements] are going to be around a set of features and updates that are catered more towards enterprises and sophisticated app teams that are looking to build and grow their mobile apps,” Francis Ma, head of product at Firebase told TechCrunch.

Perhaps the biggest piece of news was that they were adding corporate support. While the company boasts 1.5 million apps per month running on Firebase, in order to move deeper into the enterprise, it needed to have a place corporate IT could call when they run into issues. That is coming with the company expected to announce various support packages in Beta by the end of the year. These will be tied to broader Google Cloud Platform support.

“With this launch, if you already have a paid GCP Support package, you will be able to get your Firebase questions answered through the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Support Console. Once the change is fully launched, Firebase support will be included at no additional charge with paid GCP Support packages, which includes target response times, a dedicated technical account manager (if you are enrolled in Enterprise Support) and more,” Ma explained in a blog post.

In addition, larger teams and organizations need more management tools and the company announced the Firebase Management API. This allows programmatic access to manage project workflows from IDE to Firebase. Ma says this includes direct integration with StackBlitz and Glitch, two web-based IDEs. “Their platforms will now automatically detect when you are creating a Firebase app and allow you to deploy to Firebase Hosting with the click of a button, without ever leaving their platforms,” Ma wrote.

There were a bushel of other announcements including access to better facial recognition tools in the Google ML kit announced last spring. There were also improvements to Crashlytics performance monitoring, which includes integration with PagerDuty now, and Firebase Predictions, its analytics tool, which is now generally available after graduating from Beta.

All of these announcements and more, are part of a maturation of the Firebase platform as Google aims to move it from a tool aimed directly at developers to one that can be integrated at the enterprise level.

Jul
24
2018
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Watch the Google Cloud Next day one keynote live right here

Google is hosting its big cloud conference, Google Cloud Next, this morning over at the Moscone center in San Francisco. Obviously it’s not quite as large as its flagship event I/O earlier this year, but Google’s cloud efforts have become one of its brightest points over the past several quarters.

With heavy investments in Google Cloud’s infrastructure, its enterprise services, as well as a suite of machine learning tools layered on top of all that, Google is clearly trying to make Google Cloud a core piece of its business going forward. Traditionally an advertising juggernaut, Google is now figuring out what comes next after that, even as that advertising business continues to grow at a very healthy clip.

The keynote starts at 9 a.m. Pacific time, and the TechCrunch team is on the ground here covering all the newsiest and best bits. Be sure to check out our full coverage on TechCrunch as the keynote moves forward.

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