Rocket to the cloud: Anthos speeds Google’s rise in the enterprise market

The cloud has quickly changed the entire IT landscape. With the flexibility, scalability, and high availability of the cloud, it has become not just appealing but a necessity for every organization that competes in the modern economy. Most enterprises use the cloud in some way or another. And this is not just because the cloud can help organizations cut costs of maintaining local datacenters. The benefits of high availability, no vendor lock-in, and faster release cadence are likely bigger reasons to opt for the cloud. Even though several enterprises still maintain their own datacenters, the volume of workload being hosted in the cloud is increasing dramatically. The cloud isn’t what it was a decade ago. The concept that seemed almost too good to be true is now available to everyone in the form of private and public cloud providers. Vendors like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have emerged as the leaders in the battle for cloud dominance. Various other organizations have been tirelessly working to stay in the race. This healthy competition is driving innovation at a fast pace. And for Google, its Anthos hybrid and multicloud platform may be the ticket it needs to gain an even larger foothold in the enterprise cloud market.

Despite being around for over a decade, the cloud market space is new and the battle for dominance is still fierce. Every vendor is striving to introduce services that redefine what the cloud can do for an organization. Many organizations are not comfortable with the idea of a complete migration to the cloud. From a practical standpoint, moving a huge workload to the cloud that seems to be working fine on-premises can be wasteful. Enter the hybrid cloud.

Why hybrid cloud?

The idea of 100 percent cloud adoption looks good on paper. However, not every workload is meant for the cloud. First off, you can’t simply move petabytes of data over the cloud unless or until you are OK with paying a fortune just for the storage. Other than that, most organizations aren’t completely sold on the idea of public clouds due to fear of attacks. The other option is maintaining a private cloud. You can have your organization’s firewall protecting your application data. However, the problem with this is that setting up a private cloud can be expensive. Also, scaling up can become a problem in the future. This is why many organizations are adopting the hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud gives organizations a way of maintaining their workloads over different platforms without having to completely commit to one. This way organizations can use public and private clouds along with their on-premises architecture. Workloads that need more security can rely on one private cloud or on-prem while the ones that don’t contain sensitive data can be moved to a public cloud of the user’s choice. Hybrid cloud provides a single management platform for all the workloads.

Add multicloud to the mix — the ability to run workloads on multiple public cloud platforms — and you get Google Anthos.

Google Anthos

Announced early last year, Anthos is Google’s hybrid and multicloud platform. This platform is cloud-agnostic and has an incredible container-as-a-service foundation. Although different vendors offer Hybrid and multi-cloud services, they don’t help much when it comes to moving legacy workloads to the cloud. Many applications are monolithic and rewriting these apps can simply be too much work. Most organizations would rather choose to keep their applications the way they are rather than taking a chance by trying to move to the cloud. The cloud can sometimes not be the answer if you are looking to modernize your architecture. And Google Anthos helps with that. Virtualizing your legacy workloads can be a long and complicated process that makes it less than ideal. Instead of moving all the servers and VMs to the cloud, Anthos makes the shift easier by containerizing your workloads. VM images can be migrated to container instances that don’t require as many resources, making sure you don’t have to sacrifice the benefits of the cloud. Other than this, Anthos’ multicloud platform supports your workloads running on AWS and Azure making it vendor-neutral. This is one of the first mainstream platforms to provide such support making it appealing to enterprises that don’t want to be pigeon-holed by vendor lock-in.

Anthos is an ideal choice for organizations looking to jump on the microservices bandwagon. Google is built on top of Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) that helps manage workloads running on all the different platforms. Google has partnered with organizations like Robin.io, NetApp, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Dell EMC to deliver prepackaged Anthos support in their software. Anthos can also be run on servers that can host Kubernetes clusters. An agent is used to establish a consistent and secure connection with Google Cloud Platform that helps manage all the workloads from the same platform.

Let’s take a look at different components of Anthos and how they all combine to become one powerful tool.

1. GKE on-premises

As discussed before, GKE is at the core of Anthos and provides a platform to control and manage the distributed infrastructure. However, Anthos also offers software that’s based on Kubernetes and consistent with GKE called GKE on-premises. GKE on-premises can be deployed on compatible hardware and then the task of managing the instances and upgrading Kubernetes versions all becomes the responsibility of Google. GKE on-premises can also apply security patches to your equipment if a vulnerability is found.

2. Anthos Config Management

If you’re familiar with Kubernetes, you’d have an idea of how complicated configuration management can be. Most of it is manual unless you use a hosted Kubernetes service. Different instances and environments require different configurations which can lead to issues while upgrading instances. However, Anthos provides a solution to this in the form of tools that helps you set up and manage multiple Kubernetes clusters. Anthos Config Management helps with a consistent provision of network and security across different environments with the help of configurations stored in repositories like GitHub or Google Cloud Source Repository.

3. Istio Service Mesh

Anthos leverages the widely used Istio for network communication. In containerized environments networking has now morphed into a service mesh. Istio handles network management to provide seamless performance for applications based on a microservices architecture. Istio handles the communication between the various components of a single app whether they are hosted on-prem or in the cloud. Istio can integrate with various software-defined networks of your choice.

4. Traffic Director

Traffic Director is GCP’s fully managed traffic control plane for service mesh. With Traffic Director, you perform global load balancing for your workloads. You can introduce Traffic Director to your infrastructure gradually as it works with both VM-based and containerized workloads. Traffic Director can also perform health checks, percentage-based traffic splitting, and autoscaling on demand. It uses standard APIs that allow it to work with side care proxies like envoy.

5. Migrate for Anthos

This service helps users ease the migration on VM-based workloads to containers. Migrate for Anthos is ideal for upgrading complex workloads with ease. If certain components of your workload are best suited for a VM, you can simply move them to a compute engine with the help of Migrate for Compute Engine. Migrate for Anthos gets rid of manual work that various IT teams dream and instead provides a seamless migration no matter the size of your team.

6. Cloud Run

Cloud Run is a fully managed and automated serverless platform to run event-driven workloads. Cloud Run abstracts infrastructure management and lets users focus on build activities. This platform lets you deploy your clusters on GKE with ease. Cloud Run can scale up and down instantaneously based on workload demand.

Why hybrid cloud is so hot

Hybrid cloud services are sought after because of how they accommodate existing architecture while also helping developers work on modernization. Organizations love the idea of getting a single bill for all the different platforms they use for different workloads. Anthos, however, makes use of Google’s involvement in the Kubernetes project and provides a more resilient platform. Even though every mainstream cloud vendor has its version of a Hybrid/ multi-cloud offering, Google’s Anthos stands out.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Twain Taylor

My interests lie in DevOps, IoT, and cloud applications. I began my career in tech B2B marketing at Google India, after which I headed marketing for multiple startups. Today, I consult with companies in The Valley on their content marketing initiatives, and write for tech journals.

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