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Google Doubles Down on Hybrid Cloud with Kubernetes, Istio

MSPs can now turn to Google to build and sell hybrid cloud services using well-supported open source tools.

Internet giant Google is making a move into the hybrid-cloud market with a bevy of new managed, on-premises services that the company hopes will boost its standing among its hypercloud competitors.

Google’s new Cloud Services Platform (CSP) strategy is built around a collection of Google’s own cloud-software products, with Kubernetes as the centerpiece. Included in CSP is GKE On-Prem, a distribution of the Google Kubernetes Engine that offers portability between public or private clouds. CSP also features Istio, a service mesh that supplies critical functions to container-based applications such as security, telemetry and networking. Open source plays a big role in CSP, with both Istio and Kubernetes available as open-source products and with vast community support.

“The CSP ecosystem enables ISVs and customers to build their software on a platform that is open and non-proprietary,” said Urs Hölzle, Google Cloud’s SVP of engineering, during last week’s Google Cloud Next’18 conference. “That open platform is Kubernetes and Istio. For Google Cloud, we have managed versions of those services, close to us, our products.”

Google claims that the managed versions of those open-source offerings will retain high fidelity with the open-source community since Google’s versions are written by the same team of developers who contribute to the open communities.

“Our managed version [of Kubernetes] is now the only one that is explicitly multi-environment,” said Hölzle. “You can use GKE to control your cluster on [Google Cloud] and also use exactly the same tool to manage your cluster that is on-premise[s].”

Urs Hölzle

The hybrid-cloud approach offered by Google should allow developers to work with containers, microservices, and other technologies before pushing those new technologies into a public cloud. In theory, that should reduce development risks, while giving developers valuable insights into the intricacies of technologies that can be complex to learn and deploy.

“Migration [into the cloud] can inherit the complexity from on-premise[s], or is a scary transition where everything changes,” Hölzle said. “Cloud Services Platform makes it possible to start that transition on-premise[s] without coupling it with an immediate move. It lets you do one thing at a time, and start containerization before you do any migration, in the environment that they already know.”

For MSPs and channel players, there is additional good news tied to Google’s bold move into the hybrid-cloud market; Google knows it can't be successful on its own.

“This is a partner-led engagement,” Hölzle said. “Partners are already trusted in the enterprise. We see our role as helping [to] make that environment more compatible and more of an on-ramp to the future cloud.”

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