In April, Google Cloud announced a new open platform to manage applications called Anthos, a flexible and secure software-based solution. Anthos would provide businesses with the ability to run apps on existing on-prem hardware or the public cloud. Kubernetes, a key differentiator between Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and established players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, is at its core.
Kubernetes, which tech analyst Ben Thompson dubbed “the perfect antidote to AWS’ ten-year head-start in infrastructure-as-a-service,” is a fully portable open-source container cluster manager that enables GCP to effectively run microservices.
Anthos is a key component of GCP’s commitment to a multi-cloud ecosystem. When Anthos was launched at Google’s Next Conference in April, the search engine giant cited research claiming that 88 per cent of companies plan to use multiple cloud providers. And while several Google Cloud customers have existing software and infrastructure in place, they often leverage two or more cloud services at once to deploy their applications seamlessly.
In the case of Anthos, embracing open standards ensures that, in addition to the existing infrastructure capabilities of large companies, Google can deliver the benefits of a fully managed service. Its hybrid functionality is available with both the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and GKE on-prem data centers, allowing users to run multiple workloads; from the Google Cloud blog: Anthos will also allow you to manage workloads running on third-party clouds such as AWS and Azure, giving you the freedom to deploy, run and manage your applications in the cloud of your choice, without any requirements.
In addition to supporting the multi-cloud strategy of GCP, the Anthos announcement also places additional emphasis on the need for partnerships. Thomas Kurian, who took over from Diane Greene’s Google Cloud earlier this year, also took the opportunity to unveil a new open-source partner program with leading data analytics and management companies including Confluent, DataStax, MongoDB, and Neo4j. These partners will be fully integrated into GCP to provide an improved user experience across multiple channels, from insights to billing and support.
This strategy of partnering and sharing revenue with popular data analytics platforms could be beneficial to open source vendors, allowing them to build software without worrying about building their own cloud infrastructure; from ZDNet: While the initial impression might seem like a manifestation of Google’s original’ Do no evil’ strategy to contrast with AWS, the reality is that this is more of a contrast. It’s another way to overcome corporate customer syndrome that no one gets fired for buying from the usual suspects.
These open-source integrations also contrast the broader ecosystem of Google with that of AWS, whose goal was to repackage open-source projects under its own brand. Manvinder Singh, Head of Infrastructure Partnerships at Google Cloud, says the best way to deliver open-source technologies as cloud services is’ to work closely with companies that have invested their resources in developing these open-source technologies.’ Unlike AWS, Google’s strategy does not seem to be to launch an imitation service by engulfing established data analytics. Rather, it argues that ongoing partnerships with such firms will be more conducive to the creation of sustainable open source communities.
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One of the earliest multi-cloud drivers was the inability of enterprise customers to easily transition between cloud services, known as vendor lock-in. A multi-cloud approach would ensure that organizations are not constrained by inefficient processes or cloud contracts, in addition to the uncertainty about the reliability of a single cloud offering (and to prevent data loss and downtime).
While a single cloud provider may offer the right mix of Service Level Agreements (SLAs), protocols, and uptime guarantee, this is not always enough. If users start requesting features that are exclusively available through a different application, companies may have to purchase the public cloud solution from that vendor. Multi-cloud setups typically combine at least two cloud providers: Source: Google Cloud Today, multi-cloud deployments are typically driven by geographic advantages of a specific cloud service or broader strategic or technical goals. Google Cloud lists a number of reasons why organizations are embarking on a multi-cloud setup, including reducing IT spending, agility and flexibility in responding to market demands, or regulatory and legal compliance.
Multi-cloud approaches should be distinguished from the term hybrid cloud, which in the context of Google Cloud refers to a setup “in which common or interconnected workloads are deployed across multiple computing environments, one based in the public cloud, and at least one private.” Typically, this also includes a private computing environment: Source: Google Cloud Google Cloud’s performa. In early June, an outage caused by a change in routine configuration and high levels of network congestion took down YouTube, Snapchat, Discord, and a number of other web services that all use GCP on the backend. The outage (and subsequent problems with service disruptions) underlines the fragile nature of modern computing architectures, and it may not be the wisest solution to place one’s entire backend in the hands of a single company.
The Looker Acquisition earlier this year, Google announced a $13 billion investment in data centers and offices across the U.S. to strengthen its cloud computing unit. Although it faces high competition from AWS and Azure in the cloud space, Google has doubled its capital expenditure in its push for more cloud customers over the last fiscal year. On June 6th, the search engine giant reported acquiring the Looker data analytics company for $2.6 billion. As both companies share over 350 joint customers (including BuzzFeed, WPP Essence, and Yahoo!), Looker integration will complement Google Cloud’s existing analytics foundation.
Basically, Looker allows companies to understand their data stored in the cloud. The 2019 Crowds Wisdom BI Market Study ranks the business analytics firm as a leader in categories including customer experience and credibility of the vendor. Looker’s CEO Frank Bien stressed the importance of committing to customer success, as the increasing complexity and volume of data makes integration much more valuable across the organization. According to Bien, Looker had tried to change the business intelligence (BI) and analytics market early on; from TechCrunch: what we wanted to do was to disrupt this pretty stable ecosystem of data visualization tools and data preparation tools that forced companies to build solutions. We thought it was time to rationalize a new data platform, a single place where we could really reconstitute a single view of the information and make it available for business purposes in the enterprise.
In addition to its commitment to user experience, Looker says it will continue to work in line with the multi-cloud strategy of Google Cloud with all major cloud platforms. In a blog post about the acquisition, Kurian argues that Looker gives GCP the ability to define all metrics more consistently across different data sources, such as retail supply chain or entertainment media analytics. Looker’s integration will offer customers a far more comprehensive analytics solution (see below).
Source: The platform of TechCrunch Looker has a triple focus: business intelligence, data applications, and embedded analytics. In addition to pre-configured data applications for several industries (IT, sales, HR) and improved visualization tools, data modeling will be available at any scale across hybrid and multi-cloud. By providing customers with an end-to-end analytics platform, the Looker deal seems to be the inevitable next step forward in Google’s multi-cloud strategy.
Anti-trustworthy Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. The Justice Department has recently been given jurisdiction to engage in an Alphabet (Google’s parent company) antitrust probe. Looker’s deal, which is subject to government approval, raises concerns among regulators about potential anti-competitive practices. But Kurian argues that the transaction does not pose any antitrust problems, as other data analytics firms remain on the market, and no customer data would be obtained by Google Cloud in the process.
Antitrust regulators would have more grounds for a probe if it were not for Google’s multi-cloud strategy, and its continued insistence that Looker will continue to work with AWS and Microsoft Azure. Google Cloud emphasizes that there are many analytics tools on the market, so “by just acquiring Looker, we’re not concentrating the market further in any sense.” And as multi-cloud usage becomes more prevalent for large companies, pushing cloud-neutral (or third-party) software companies like Looker will benefit GCP; from the Motley Fool: pushing a multi-cloud agenda would obviously benefit the lag. By buying Looker, Google indirectly benefits from the success of multi-cloud usage among its rivals as long as they use Looker’s software. In other words, something is better than nothing, even if it means ceding competitors some cloud workloads.
But a strategic commitment to multi-cloud might not be enough to fend off impending investigations into Google’s anti-competitive behavior. In its potential probe, the Justice Department will seek to uncover whether the search engine giant has leveraged its position to unfairly take down its smaller competitors in markets such as mobile operating systems and cloud computing. And while the Looker deal is unlikely to be considered anti-competitive, Google should still be prepared for increased government scrutiny in the months ahead.
Originally publish at Medium