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Google, open source vendors join for cloud managed services

Google has partnered with seven prominent open source software providers, including MongoDB and Redis, to tap customer demand for managed OSS services in the cloud.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google has placed a bet that deeper ties to prominent open source software companies will match customers' needs, and help it gain market share against AWS and Microsoft.

Google has expanded partnerships with seven open source software (OSS) firms -- MongoDB, Redis, Elastic, DataStax, Neo4j, InfluxData and Confluent. The plan is to tightly integrate fully managed services with the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). These cloud managed services will look and feel like native GCP services, accessible from the main console, with unified support and billing. Customers can log tickets and get resolutions for all the services through a single window.

Google also plans to weave its platform and these cloud managed services in areas such as ID and access management. All companies will share marketing efforts.

"We believe in an approach that is collaborative, not combative," said Manvinder Singh, head of infrastructure partnerships at Google Cloud, in an interview prior to the Google Cloud Next conference here this week.

Those words recall recent tensions between AWS and the likes of Redis and MongoDB, which have suggested AWS takes too much from the open source community and gives back too little in the way of code commits and other resources.

AWS roiled MongoDB in January when it rolled out DocumentDB, a similar service that is compatible with the MongoDB 3.6 API. With this approach, AWS aims to avoid commercial implications that result from MongoDB's recent move to a different license model, Server Side Public License, for newer versions of the database. And in March, AWS unveiled Open Distro for Elasticsearch, which it said was necessary because too much proprietary code had intermingled with the search tool's main open source code base.

Singh and other Google executives didn't explicitly reference AWS or its actions, but insisted there is still industry debate over the best way to deliver OSS in the cloud, and that customers want a cloud-native, fully managed experience.

While all seven vendors have a presence on Google Cloud through its marketplace, and MongoDB, for one, already offers a cloud managed service there via MongoDB Atlas, the goal is to co-develop managed services with all of them over time, Singh said.

He declined to provide details on the economic aspects of the arrangements, but said Google would share more information in the coming months.

Google's open source embrace for cloud managed services seen as pragmatic

These expanded partnerships represent Google's acknowledgement that it must change tactics, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.

"Their original approach was, 'Build things the way we build them,'" Mueller said. "That obviously didn't work and now they have to accept the reality that people are running different things. ... They are admitting the defeat of a Google-only development model."

Google has open source bona fides. In 2017, it open sourced TensorFlow, a machine learning technology that quickly became an industry standard.

They are admitting the defeat of a Google-only development model.
Holger Mueller Analyst, Constellation Research

At the same time, Google early on put its proprietary technology front and center as the reason why customers should choose its cloud. And while Google has had a marketplace for third-party vendor products for years, these OSS partnerships take the strategy much further.

Google is wise to latch onto the increased tension between commercial open source providers and the likes of AWS, and present itself as a preferred partner for those companies, said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at RedMonk in Portland, Maine.

That certainly seems to be Google's intent. With its relatively small market share, compared with AWS and Microsoft, Google needs to differentiate itself in any way possible. But partnerships, particularly ones as ambitious as these, amount to flags in the ground until actual customers have taken part.

To that end, it would be a coup if Google brings a few customers onstage at Cloud Next that already use its platform in conjunction with some of these vendors and can speak to the benefits of deeper integration and unified support, Mueller said.

More details of the partnerships are expected to be revealed at Cloud Next's opening keynote on Tuesday.

Google also plans to discuss its continued push into cloud infrastructure development. It's spent tens of billions on capital expenditures for its cloud in recent years, and now has 19 regions and 58 zones spread across 14 countries, with another new region in Osaka, Japan, planned for later this year.

Others due to come online in Seoul, South Korea, and Salt Lake City by early 2020 and mid-2020 respectively, plus and one in Jakarta, Indonesia, by 2022, will bring Google Cloud to 23 regions worldwide.

Finally, Google released a handful of details about Cloud Run, a new product to deploy serverless containerized apps. It is based on Knative, the middleware Google co-developed with IBM, and will have support for both Docker and Google Kubernetes Engine containers.

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