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InfoQ Homepage News Google's Software-Driven Hybrid Cloud Platform Moves from Alpha to Beta Stage

Google's Software-Driven Hybrid Cloud Platform Moves from Alpha to Beta Stage

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First revealed at Google Cloud Next 2018, the Cloud Services Platform (CSP) is now available in beta form. This collection of Kubernetes-driven services runs atop on-premises infrastructure, and represents what Google hopes will become a ubiquitous technology stack.

The CSP includes technologies familiar to Google Cloud users, and open-source aficionados. Its foundation is Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and includes the yet-to-be-generally-released GKE On-Prem offering. CSP also includes the new (beta) CSP Config Management service for creating common infrastructure configuration policies across Kubernetes clusters in the cloud or on-premises. Additionally, CSP works with the Google-created service mesh technology Istio, Stackdriver Monitoring, and components served up from the GCP Marketplace. Google also touts support for serverless platform Knative, API management with Apigee, and continuous integration with Cloud Build.

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Why expand the Google Cloud offering to on-premises infrastructure? The Register says that "the move is a recognition that enterprises aren't prepared to go all-in on the cloud, preferring a hybrid approach. Those in regulated industries simply cannot abandon all that on-prem investment." Google Fellow and SVP Urs Hölzle told The Next Platform that 90% of workloads still run on-premises, and the market is ready for a portable, infrastruture-agnostic stack.

[Large companies] realize that they need to modernize, they realize that they will eventually move to the cloud but they don’t want to have all of these things tied together into one step. And also they don’t want to make a single vendor bet. And so our pitch has been from the beginning that CSP, because it is based on Kubernetes and Istio, is as safe a bet as Linux is.

If you choose Linux, you can pick what runs underneath it – Dell, Hewlett Packard, or GCP – and you can pick what is running on top, such as MySQL or Oracle. They all work. Because CSP is based on Kubernetes, Istio, Knative, and so forth, it gives you all that functionality in a managed form but of the core of the stack, all of the bits that are running, are actually open source so you could take it out and run it yourself.

Hölzle believes that the lasting battle isn't among the public cloud providers, but among the stacks that define enterprise computing for the next 20 years. And Hölzle says Google's goal "is to win and be the default software stack for the next 20 years."

In a new whitepaper, Googlers Eric Brewer and Jennifer Lin say that Google built CSP to "accelerate application modernization for SaaS providers, developers, IT operators and their end users." They believe that CSP makes that possible by decoupling infrastructure from applications, decoupling software teams from each other, decouping development from operations, and decoupling security from development and operations. Google believes they can bring these cloud benefits to on-premises environments instead of requiring someone use public cloud to get the team and infrastructure agility they crave. Chen Goldberg of Google told The New Stack that consistency with public cloud is key, though.

"No one argues the benefits of the cloud. Our customers are excited about the benefits the cloud gives them, but the majority of workloads are still running on-prem. CSP is the first software-based platform that really allows customers to leverage the cloud. It really brings the cloud to on-prem, but provides consistency with our cloud environment," said Goldberg. "Our customers expect to run workloads everywhere. We hear from our customers that the challenge in hybrid is not only portability, but also integration, people, and skills. How long does it take to train people on a different set of tools? The importance of consistency across both environments has led us to CSP."

CSP is entering a noisy space, but their software-driven approach stands apart from the converged infrastructure offerings from Google's mega rivals. Microsoft's Azure Stack promises hybrid consistency by embedding key public cloud services within integrated systems offered by hardware partners. AWS joined the fray by announcing AWS Outposts at re:Invent in 2018. While scant details exist for AWS Outposts, this is also delivered via hardware kit that runs in a corporate data center. IBM's Cloud Private offers a software-based platform that includes both Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry, and runs on customer-provided infrastructure.

Hölzle said that the CSP alpha was one of the most successful in Google history. He gives no timeline for general availability of the service. As it stands today, there is no published pricing, although Hölzle revealed that CSP is a licensed product with per-node pricing. Both GKE On-Prem and CSP are only available today by contacting Google's sales team.

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