What is Google Cloud Anthos? Managed Kubernetes everywhere

Google’s Anthos promises a single, consistent way of managing Kubernetes workloads across on-prem and public cloud environments

What is Google Cloud Anthos? Kubernetes everywhere

Google Cloud launched the Anthos platform in April 2019, promising customers a way to run Kubernetes workloads on-premises, in the Google Cloud, and, crucially, in other major public clouds including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Speaking at Google Cloud Next in San Francisco in 2019, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the idea behind Anthos is to allow developers to “write once and run anywhere”—a promise to simplify the development, deployment, and operation of containerized applications across hybrid and multiple public clouds by bridging incompatible cloud architectures. 

That crucial multicloud support took some time to achieve. Google eventually announced Anthos support for AWS (as of April 2020) and Anthos support for Azure (as of December 2021), with the release of the Anthos Multi-Cloud API, fulfilling its original promise of true hybrid and multicloud operability.

Google Cloud Anthos console Google

The Google Cloud Anthos console showing Azure and AWS assets

By providing a single platform for the management of all Kubernetes workloads, Google Cloud Anthos allows customers to focus their skills on a single technology, rather than relying on certified experts in a multitude of proprietary cloud technologies.

Similarly, Anthos provides operational consistency across hybrid and public clouds, with the ability to apply common configurations across infrastructures, as well as custom security policies linked to certain workloads and namespaces, regardless of where those workloads are running. And operators can track cluster telemetry and log information from a single console.

Google Cloud Anthos components

Anthos is the natural evolution of the Cloud Services Platform the vendor was building before 2019. Anthos combines the Google Cloud managed service Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), GKE On-Prem, and the Anthos Config Management console for unified administration, policies, and security across hybrid and multicloud Kubernetes deployments.

Add Stackdriver for observability, GCP Cloud Interconnect for high-speed connectivity, the Anthos Service Mesh (based on Google’s open source Istio project), and the Cloud Run serverless deployment service (based on the open source Knative) into the mix, and Google Cloud is looking to provide a one-stop shop for managing Kubernetes workloads regardless of where they reside.

Being based on GKE, Anthos takes care of any Kubernetes updates and security patches automatically as they are released.

Native GKE On-Prem installations will run on VMware vSphere or on bare metal, with launch partners VMware, Dell EMC, HPE, Intel, and Lenovo committed to delivering Anthos on hyperconverged infrastructures.

Google Cloud Anthos competitors

Fear of vendor lock-in is very real for enterprise customers. Providing a flexible and open route to move to the cloud is something of a holy grail for the cloud vendors today. But some want to have their cake and eat it, by trapping those customers within their own ecosystem when customers do decide to move workloads to the cloud.

Amazon Web Services finally relented on the hybrid cloud front when it announced AWS Outposts to help customers bridge on-prem and cloud workloads. An extension of the AWS cloud to on-premises data centers, AWS Outposts combines AWS-configured hardware and AWS-managed services and APIs. Then, in December 2020, AWS extended its managed Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) to workloads running both on-premises and in the AWS cloud.

Oracle Cloud at Customer and Microsoft Azure Stack are similar hybrid cloud offerings from other major players, while the Red Hat OpenShift and VMware Tanzu platform-as-a-service offerings, both underpinned by Kubernetes, allow containerized enterprise workloads to run in hybrid and public clouds.

In its bid to topple these big rivals, Google Cloud is making a big bet on Kubernetes being the future of enterprise infrastructure. Of course, Google’s rivals are also pushing aggressively into the managed Kubernetes world, but as the petri dish where Kubernetes was grown, Google has a strong claim to being the best way to run that technology.

How to migrate to Google Cloud Anthos

To help customers get started, Google launched Migrate for Anthos off the back of the 2018 acquisition of Velostrata, an Israeli company specializing in cloud migration by cleverly decoupling storage and compute, allowing companies to leave storage on-premises and run compute in the cloud. Migrate for Anthos allows workloads to be converted into containers for Kubernetes directly from physical servers and virtual machines.

How does it work? Migrate for Anthos parses the file system of a server or virtual machine and converts that to a Kubernetes persistent volume. The application containers, service containers, networking, and persistent volumes wind up in a Kubernetes pod, which is a group of containers that are deployed together on the same host. 

For Google Cloud Platform customers, getting started with Anthos is as simple as creating a new GKE cluster, with the Istio service mesh enabled, in the console. 

For on-prem customers, the first step to running Anthos involves setting up a GKE On-Prem cluster and migrating over an existing application. Once this cluster is registered with GCP, you can install Istio to achieve workload visibility across all of your clusters. Then, by enabling Anthos Config Management across your GKE clusters, all Kubernetes and Istio policies can be managed in one place.

Google Cloud Anthos pricing

Google Cloud Anthos is available on a pay-as-you-go basis or as a monthly subscription, with commitment-based discounts.

For cloud customers, Anthos costs $8 per cluster vCPU per month on a pay-as-you-go basis, or $6 if you pay on a subscription basis, regardless of which public cloud platform your workload runs on.

For on-premises customers, the cost of Anthos rises to $24 per cluster vCPU for pay-as-you-go customers running on VMware or bare metal. A free trial for new customers allows you to use up to $800 for a maximum of 30 days.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.