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Google adds hardware flexibility to distributed cloud

Google Distributed Cloud Edge, available in preview, takes the company's cloud computing infrastructure to the private data center, colocation facility or a remote location.

Google is prepared to take its cloud computing infrastructure wherever enterprises need it.

On Tuesday, the company unveiled a portfolio of software and hardware called Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) at its Google Cloud Next virtual conference. The technology lets organizations run Google Cloud infrastructure in the private data center, a colocation facility, or a remote location. The latter could include a retail store, factory floor or branch office.

Google also has a GDC version for communication service providers (CSPs). CSPs can deploy Google infrastructure at the edge of their networks to deliver 5G and LTE services to business customers. Also, Google has partnered with telecom equipment makers Ericsson and Nokia to provide GDC hardware to run enterprises' private 5G networks.

Google released in preview the first two products of the GDC portfolio, Google Distributed Cloud Edge and Google Distributed Cloud Hosted. The latter is the same technology, but a Google partner is responsible for maintaining the appliance and software in its data center.

Google matches AWS, Microsoft distributed clouds

GDC places Google on par with the distributed cloud infrastructure offerings of AWS, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud. Their products are Outposts, the Azure Stack portfolio, and the Cloud@Customer service, respectively.

In general, the distributed cloud concept places the cloud providers' computing infrastructure onto appliances that can run in any facility the customer wants. The capability is essential because companies often have applications that would be more expensive to run in the public cloud than on-premises.

However, companies want to integrate the software with cloud applications, so having the same infrastructure provides consistency. Companies have the same cloud-native control plane and service mesh and management, orchestration, and provisioning tools.

Google Distributed Cloud
Deployment options for Google Distributed Cloud

Google Cloud Anthos in GDC

GDC's foundation is Google Cloud Anthos, a Kubernetes container environment that lets enterprises build applications that can take full advantage of cloud-computing platforms.

Anthos lets Google customers run GDC software on servers from several partners, including Cisco, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and NetApp. The hardware meets Google's required use of the Google engine for running Kubernetes clusters.

The hardware choice Anthos offers is a feature that separates Google from rivals AWS and Microsoft Azure, analysts said. That feature could help third-place Google inch closer to the two public cloud market leaders, AWS and Microsoft.

Openness will be a key to [Google Cloud] gaining traction.
Zeus KerravalaFounder and principal analyst, ZK Research

"Openness will be a key to [Google Cloud] gaining traction," said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research. "It should prioritize that over the short-term benefit of proprietary features."

Impact on multi-cloud vendors

Distributed cloud products have the potential to siphon revenue from multi-cloud technology providers like Cisco and VMware. The companies offer technology for connecting applications in private data centers with the software on public clouds.

"If your center of gravity is already the public cloud, there's no reason to go to Cisco," said Sid Nag, a vice president and analyst at Gartner. "Why would I go to Cisco for an on-premises private cloud solution when I can get it all from one vendor?"

Antone Gonsalves is the news director for the Networking Media Group. He has deep and wide experience in tech journalism. Since the mid-1990s, he has worked for UBM's InformationWeek, TechWeb and Computer Reseller News. He has also written for Ziff Davis' PC Week, IDG's CSOonline and IBTMedia's CruxialCIO, and rounded all of that out by covering startups for Bloomberg News. He started his journalism career at United Press International, working as a reporter and editor in California, Texas, Kansas and Florida.

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