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Google wants to ease hybrid cloud woes

Cloud supplier Google claims its Cloud Service Platform will alleviate complexities in managing microservices in a hybrid IT environment

Google wants to make it easier for enterprises to manage containerised applications in hybrid and multi-cloud environments with a new family of cloud services that supports greater automation and control of microservices.

Speaking at Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, Urs Holzle, senior vice-president for technical infrastructure at Google, noted that despite the promises of cloud computing, it remains difficult for enterprises to run applications across multiple clouds.

“Cloud providers do things their own way, whether it’s setting up virtual machines or networks,” he said. “Managing that is hard enough in a single environment, and in a hybrid environment, you have to do the same things several times and that’s a lot of unnecessary work.”

Holzle said these administrative tasks have become a key expense for many enterprises, noting that while server costs have fallen by 50% between 2005 and 2015, administration costs have risen by 83%.

Called Cloud Services Platform, Google’s offering is underpinned by the Istio open-source platform that connects, manages and secures microservices running on Kubernetes, Google’s container orchestration technology.

Although Kubernetes offers tools that ease the hassle of patching operating systems, load balancing and networking while supporting continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes, Holzle said complexities remain in higher level service management, such as discovery and authentication of microservices.

As more enterprises move away from monolithic applications and towards microservices, Holzle said Istio will extend Kubernetes to address such complexities, as well as let enterprises monitor microservices across multiple locations from a single place.

“This automation doesn’t just lower administrative costs, it also gives you more information about your services,” Holzle said.

Holzle said Google started working on Istio last year together with IBM, Cisco, Red Hat and Pivotal, and that the software is already being used today by companies such as eBay.

Separately, Google also announced an on-premise version of its Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) in a bid to cater to enterprises that run microservices-based applications in on-premise datacentres. 

Google said GKE On-Prem will make it easy to install and upgrade Kubernetes and offers access to key capabilities, such as unified cluster management, both on-premise and on the Google Cloud Platform.

Google’s move to support hybrid IT environments follows similar efforts by other cloud and platform rivals in recent years.

Read more about containers and microservices

In May 2018, Red Hat teamed up with Microsoft to let developers run container-based applications on the Azure cloud and on-premise through the OpenShift Kubernetes-based container platform.

The partnership, which builds on a strategic alliance first announced in November 2015, comes at a time when interest in using containerised applications is growing.

According to Gartner, a technology analyst firm, more than half of global organisations are expected to run such applications in production environments by 2020, up from just 20% today.

The two companies said they will jointly engineer and manage Red Hat OpenShift on Azure to reduce the complexity of managing containers for enterprises. The offering will be a fully managed service with support from both companies that covers containerised applications, operating systems and infrastructure.

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