Anthos – Google’s Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Platform

Chris Shaw

The age of cloud native applications is upon us, with digital transformation now the number one priority for many CIOs. In today’s hyper competitive market, it’s not enough just to move your existing virtual machines (VMs) to the cloud. To truly take full advantage of cloud computing CIOs are looking to container orchestration with Kubernetes integration, microservices and DevOps automation to provide the agility and increased speed to market their businesses need to maintain competitive advantage, while at the same time reducing costs.

What is Anthos?

Anthos is an evolution of Google Cloud Services Platform. As a software-based solution, Anthos is designed to be simple, flexible and secure. General availability (GA) was announced at the Google Next19 conference in San Francisco, it will be available on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and in existing data centres using either GKE on-premises or using an existing partner technology. With this announcement Google will offer a single managed service that will let you manage and deploy container workloads across clouds and on-premises data centres.


Multi-cloud is everywhere and the ability to run and manage applications on-premises and across clouds is fast being embraced as the default position for cloud adoption, but this offering from Google differentiates Anthos from the pack. Google have gone down a different path and have included over 30 technology, platform and service partners in the solution. This partnership will be key to delivering the success of Anthos. Any Kubernetes offering requires strong support from the open-source community and Google, the birthplace of Kubernetes, is hoping to tap into the existing GKE community support allowing Anthos to become the default offering for Kubernetes.

As early as the 1970’s vendors have been offering the prospect of cross-platform compatibility. With this new offering, Google is providing an opportunity for ‘write once, run anywhere’ by allowing businesses to run their applications on existing on-premises hardware investments or in the public cloud.

For their first venture into the customer data centre Google have used a software only approach with partners such as Dell EMC, HPE, Intel and Lenovo all listed as platform partners and committed to running Anthos on their technologies. Strong support from Cisco and VMware was clearly shown with David Goeckeler, EVP and General Manager, Networking and Security Business, Cisco, and Sanjay Poonen, COO, VMware joining Thomas Kurian on-stage for his first keynote since joining Google as CEO of Google Cloud.

David Goeckeler described Cisco and Google as “highly complementary technology bases”, with the Anthos integration of widely adopted Cisco technologies such as ACI, SD-WAN aiming to provide easier adoption and acceleration to Anthos. VMware customers were not left disappointed, retaining the ability to utilise their current infrastructure either running GKE on-premises through a virtual appliance or using an existing VMware PKS environment with the opportunity to extend and deploy these same services into the cloud using an Istio service mesh. With strong integration with Workspace One, SD-WAN by VeloCloud and a generally available plug-in for VMware vRealize Automation already announced, there is a compelling case for VMware customers looking to extend their microservices to the cloud under a single offering. Further to this, Anthos allows the opportunity to manage workloads running on third-party clouds like AWS and Azure.

Google are certainly pitching Anthos as the solution businesses have been so desperately looking for.

Is Anthos just for new applications?

In short, no. Many organisations have monolithic business critical applications which restrict cloud adoption. To this extent Google announced Anthos Migrate. Although still in beta, Anthos Migrate does exactly what it says on the tin; migrates virtual machines from on-premises, or other clouds, directly into containers in GCP and in turn GKE. Anthos Migrate provides a simple automated migration tool with the aim of reducing the complexity of migrating to Anthos. Once migrated to Anthos, customers can begin to benefit from cloud native methodologies and utilisation of the full suite of Anthos products.

In an unusual move Google demonstrated migrating an on-premises legacy VM to a container running on Anthos, even more unusual perhaps Google included running a container on AWS in the same demo.

The Anthos suite includes:

  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GA)
  • Istio (GA)
  • GKE On-Prem (Beta)
  • Google Cloud Platform Marketplace (Beta)
  • Anthos Config Management (Beta)
  • GKE Hub (Alpha)
  • Cloud Service Mesh (Alpha)

Would there be any advantage to be an early adopter?

As Jennifer Lin, Director of Product Management, Anthos says,

“What does this mean for you? If you’re a developer, you get to avoid the pain of re-writing your code just to deploy to a new cloud. As an Ops person, you get the ability to consistently manage your apps wherever they run. If you’re running a business, you get leverage when you are negotiating a cloud contract”.

Anthos is all about Kubernetes. As those companies that have already adopted Kubernetes understand, an enterprise wide solution is monstrously difficult to manage; Anthos aims to take the simplicity of GKE into the data centre and at the same time releasing companies from cloud vendor lock-in for their container services. All managed through Anthos.

To deliver one of these offerings is ambitious, to deliver both could cement Google as the premier Kubernetes offering in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Closing thoughts

Google’s Anthos offering could be a real game changer for businesses when it comes to adopting cloud and future proofing their investment. Unlike other young offerings it comes across as mature straight out of the gates and with several big-name partner integrations already named and operational, migration should be easy and quick, removing any initial hang-ups or interruptions. As containerisation steals the crown from virtual machines, could Anthos become the de facto offering for businesses looking to modernise their entire IT environment?

As an independent cloud consulting business, Xtravirt have been designing and delivering cloud and digital transformation solutions for many years. If you are looking to extend your cloud capability, we can provide advisory, design and implementation services to create the right solution for your organisation. Contact us to find out more.

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