Google Anthos set to infiltrate AWS, then Azure

© Flickr/cc-licence/Bob West

© Flickr/cc-licence/Bob West

  • It’s Google’s platform for managing multi-cloud workloads
  • Not sure how to characterise Anthos Hybrid Cloud. Like a cuckoo’s nesting strategy perhaps?
  • It and other similar moves, are bound to change the dynamic of the cloud market

Google has now made its move with its Anthos hybrid cloud platform and announced that it will effectively provide a beachhead into arch rival Amazon Web Services (AWS), enabling users to more effectively hybridize Google Cloud applications so that they can be run, unaltered, in AWS facilities.  

But that’s not all,  Google is planning to take the infiltration into Microsoft territory too. It says Anthos on Azure is currently being tested with customers, so we can expect a follow-up announcement in the not-too-distant future. 

What is it?

Anthos is Google’s write once run anywhere platform for managing multi-cloud workloads. Google claims that customers want to run applications where they need them to be without any added complexity. And they want to continue using their existing investments (should they be looking to move on over to Google, I guess) on their own premises and on other clouds.

But never mind telling us what customers want (love that old trick). This capability is what Google wants because it will no doubt help it to win and keep more customers. 

Presenting the Google Anthos move  as a bit of a game changer as I have above, might sound a little over-dramatic, but enabling the heightened multi-cloud and hybrid operation that Anthos and other multi-cloud or hybrid platforms that are also on the same track does look like being a game changer in the longer term by altering the competitive dynamic of the cloud industry.  

Anthos is by no means alone: there’s a general scramble into multi- and hybrid-cloud. Major players include, of course, VMware, now owned by Dell Technologies and Red Hat, now in the arms of IBM, but there are also many emerging players with different takes and different offerings all pointed towards the same general hybrid outcome. 

One such claims to be at the extreme of user-friendliness. Alkira says it’s just emerged from stealth mode to unveil Alkira Cloud Services Exchange, described as the first unified, on demand, multi-cloud offering. Engineers just point and click up a multi-cloud network in minutes, it claims. At this point we have to conclude that hybrid and multi-cloud is here to stay 

So who wields the market power?

Up to fairly recently, cloud winners and losers are mostly selected by the industry watchers  in terms of the number of users and capacity being used by each of the public cloud infrastructure providers. That race has already been consolidated  down to Amazon, Google and Azure as other players, including the telcos, have tended to peel off, at least from public cloud or Webscale activity. 

But now, looking back through our Tracker (TelecomTV registration required)  cloud announcements, a new measure of the cloud market is starting to form. The news now is all about hybrid and multi-cloud, who is hybridizing with who and so on. It will soon be the various software platforms’ multi-cloud capabilities and who and how many partners they are allied with to do it, that will define the winners and losers. And those players are going to include the Webscale cloud providers themselves, as Google’s move with Anthos makes clear. 

Telco implications

This new phase of using software to enable a single managed hybrid cloud should eventually have an  impact on the telco market as cloud gathers strength there. 

Recent examples of telco cloud-cuddling in pursuit of a single seamless telco network has included Vodafone’s work with VMware to roll out network virtual infrastructure (NVI) across all of its European business and 21 markets. 

This single digital network architecture means the operator can design, build, test and deploy next generation functions more securely, and around 40% more quickly, it claims. And the much-sought-after network automation that can be made to flow from the network is a further benefit.  

Vodafone now has VMware’s cloud infrastructure deployed at more than 57 sites across Europe and 25 in its Africa, Asia and Oceania markets, all supporting voice core, data core and service platforms on over 900 virtual network functions. 

One next step in the telco cloud journey though, would be to seed a telco cloud presence inside public cloud data centres, rather than limiting your spread to a virtualised platform across telco premises - webscale data centres, after all, are where all the data is. 

As one analyst told me, if you think about how many city-located data centres there are within a few miles of thousands of customers, then you have a good basis right there for providing high performance edge or near-edge services from them. 

What might be coming up?

If platforms like Anthos make it feasible to run standard virtualised telco functions and applications across the major cloud infrastructures, then ultimately telcos should be able to use public cloud to extend their reach just about anywhere on the globe. That points to an eventual  radical change to the competitive dynamic -  not just between telcos, but between telcos and other players in the IT firmament.  

The key word here though is ‘eventual’. According to David Martin, Associate Senior Analyst at London analyst firm, STL Partners, it would pay not to get too excited about time-scales. “In general telcos are not yet ready,” to start spreading themselves over the webscale cloud, Martin says. “It’s not too difficult to imagine why,” he says. Worries about control, access to the data centres and of course security and reliability all come to the fore. However he thinks that cloud players are going to be able to take advantage of multi- and hybrid cloud models to build out their own capabilities before the telcos do. 



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