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Google's multi-cloud platform goes GA as Anthos

Google's Cloud Services Platform, now called Anthos, aims to make waves for hybrid and on-premises cloud management, but customers should be aware the GA tag has its limitations.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's Anthos hybrid and multi-cloud platform is now available, but it's too early to know how well the Kubernetes container-based platform will resonate with customers, or if it's even ready for prime time.

Anthos, initially known as Cloud Services Platform since its rollout in July 2018, is available on Google Cloud Platform's Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and on premises via GKE On-Premises, the company said here at the Cloud Next conference. It will also be a multi-cloud platform, with support for AWS and Azure.

Overall, Anthos gives customers the means to deploy containerized applications on any environment they choose, Google said. Whether in the cloud or on premises, Anthos will be fully managed by Google.

Anthos doesn't technically require a hardware refresh, but Google nonetheless will partner with Cisco to integrate Anthos with Cisco's HyperFlex converged infrastructure, SD-WAN and other products. Dell EMC, HPE, Intel and Lenovo have also pledged to deliver Anthos on their hyper-converged infrastructure, according to the company.

A bevy of systems integrators have also lined up to help bring Anthos to market. They include Accenture, Atos, Cognizant, Deloitte, HCL, Tata and Wipro. In addition, more than 20 enterprise software vendors -- including MongoDB, Citrix, Couchbase, Splunk, CloudBees, DataStax and GitLab -- intend to tie their products into Anthos.

There's no such thing as open everything. When you adopt [Anthos] you are buying into Google's abstraction layer.
Patrick MoorheadAnalyst, Moor Insights & Strategy

That's the kind of partner ecosystem Google needs to meet customer demand globally and across vertical industries such as retail, banking and healthcare. To get enterprises live on Anthos faster, Google has created Anthos Migrate, which is now in beta. Anthos Migrate automatically moves VMs from the cloud or on-premises environments into Kubernetes containers, with no modifications of VMs or applications required upfront, Google claimed.

Early access users of Google Anthos include Kohl's. The department store chain plans to move 70% of its apps to the cloud over a three-year span to provide a richer omnichannel experience for customers, said Ratnakar Lavu, Kohl's CTO and SVP, in a keynote.

"We needed to innovate and we also had to become more engineering-focused," he said.

Kohl's analyzed its application portfolio and divided it into three categories: Lift and shift, redesign for the cloud, and designated for retirement. Anthos will support those efforts, Lavu said.

Google Anthos production readiness in question

One prospective Anthos user expressed cautious skepticism over exactly what Google has delivered, general availability tag or not.

"I think what they're doing is really cool," said Joseph Cooper, CEO at KintoHub, a startup that makes tools for developers that want to build microservices-oriented applications. "They're not caring just about the Google cloud, which is a huge eye-opener and surprise."

Google could misstep if it adds too much complexity to Anthos, Cooper said, but so far, in his view, there is room for error. In fact, he characterized Anthos in its current state as an "MVP" -- minimum viable product.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst, Moor Insights & StrategyPatrick Moorhead

"After asking some questions, it feels very alpha in the sense there's very limited features," he said. "It is GA, but it is GA just to set up the [Kubernetes] cluster."

Anthos targets some seriously difficult challenges for enterprise IT shops, said Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas.

"You not only have to contemplate security, you have to contemplate taking a virtualized workload and putting it into Kubernetes," Moorhead said. "I was surprised they said it was GA just based on how hard the problem is. I would not be surprised if it's not truly ready."

Moreover, enterprises today predominantly want to pursue a multi-cloud platform strategy to avoid lock-in, Moorhead added. Google has positioned Anthos as something at odds with lock-in, but that's not truly the case, he said. "There's no such thing as open everything," he said. "When you adopt this model you are buying into Google's abstraction layer."

Google Anthos "is going to kick off a ton of debate, a ton of analysis," he said. "Maybe we'll see what AWS does [in response]. ... Maybe we'll see what Azure does."

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