Google's Cloud Services Platform seeks to cut cost of hybrid

The new platform will combine Kubernetes and Istio into a single managed service

Google has announced the launch of its new Cloud Services Platform, a collection of Google services that will be seen by many as the company's first attempt to fill a gap in its hybrid cloud services portfolio.

The new platform, revealed at Google Cloud's Next conference this week, brings together Google's work with containers and open source to address a growing problem of companies turning to hybrid cloud environments only to find an increased workload from the number of conflicting provider policies.

Google's Cloud Services Platform will fold its Kubernetes platform, which is now an industry standard for containerisation, and its recently developed open source platform Istio, into a single service for companies wanting to avoid rising admin costs.

"Cloud computing is still missing something," said Urs Hlzle, Google Cloud's senior vice president of technical infrastructure, speaking at Google Cloud Next. "A simple way to combine the cloud with your existing on-premise infrastructure, or with other clouds. In fact, the industry has moved in the opposite direction of that, and that's a problem."

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"Cloud providers do things their own way. It might be about specifying permissions or setting up a virtual machine or network... all of these are different in different clouds. That creates a lot of unnecessary complexity and work. And it's getting worse.

Hlzle pointed to a recent IDC study that found, between 2005 and 2015, server costs had fallen by 15% while the costs of administration had surged 83%.

"That's not a good trend and we want to change that," he added.

Google pointed to the recent shift towards containerisation and Kubernetes as a means of avoiding differing provider policies on how cloud deployments are managed, but suggested this doesn't go far enough.

"Kubernetes only solves part of the problem, because the complexity remains at higher levels, especially in service management - how containerised services talk to each other, how they're authenticated, how they can discover and use each other to build applications."

Google hopes to solve this with the inclusion of Istio, an open source platform jointly developed last year with Cisco, IBM, Pivotal, Lift and Red Hat. Istio serves as a management layer, allowing users to discover, connect and manage various Kubernetes environments from within a single interface.

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Both Kubernetes and Istio have now been folded into the Cloud Services Platform, which ensures users are able to deploy their multi-cloud environments under single, consistent policies, according to Google.

"Because it's based on Kubernetes you get automatic patch management, but more importantly, you can use a consistent set of services that are independent of the application logic, so your developers don't need to be experts on security," said Hlzle.

"These security policies can work on all services, regardless of where they're located, they provide unforgeable identities for each service that authenticate encrypted calls to other services, and all of this requires no code changes in your application. So you can have one security model, and one set of policies, versus many."

StackDriver Service Monitoring, which provides a birds-eye view of cloud deployments, and Google Kubernetes Engine serverless addons, which supports the deployment of serverless environments, are also included in the new platform.

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Nicholas McQuire, VP of enterprise research at CCS Insight, said that Google's Cloud Services Platform was perhaps the company's most important announcement of the conference.

"Google's strategy has, until now, lacked a focus on hybrid cloud and specifically addressing needs of many customers who want consistent services on-premises and in the public cloud," said McQuire.

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"Building on its leadership in Kubernetes, the move will also be a key building block for its growing internet of things and edge computing strategies - where Google has been frankly, a bit late to the party."

Cloud Service Platform will be available in the Autumn, which will also see the release of best practice documentation.

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