Google commits to hybrid cloud vision with ‘truly revolutionary’ Cloud Services Platform

At their Google Cloud Next 2018 event, in addition to their new platform, Google announced GKE On-Prem, a version of Google’s Google Kubernetes Engine for container management. They also announced Istio 1.0 is now available for production deployments, and the first service for it.

Google’s Urs Hölzle onstage

On Tuesday, at the opening keynote of the Google Cloud Next 2018 conference, the news that created the most buzz came from Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Technical Infrastructure  at Google Cloud. Hölzle laid out a vision for Google’s cloud future that sounded a lot more like Microsoft’s vision for Microsoft Azure, and a lot less like Amazon’s vision of their AWS cloud. Hölzle’s vision amounted to an embrace of hybrid computing, and their new Cloud Services Platform was unveiled with a set of services that will allow companies to consume them on-prem, as well as in the Google Cloud.

“We are bringing the cloud to you, and ending the false dichotomy between on prem and cloud,” Hölzle told the keynote audience at what the company says is its biggest event ever, with over 25,000 attendees present. “We are also providing a rich selection of tools.”

Hölzle said that the industry has been lacking something fundamental.

“That’s a simple way to combine the cloud with your existing on-prem or with other clouds,” he said. “The industry has moved in the opposite direction of that, and that’s a problem.”

That was a not-so-subtle shot at AWS, which has been vocal in its view that hybrid computing is being pushed by vendors eager to protect their investments in on-prem infrastructure, and that customers who delay in going all-in on cloud are just setting themselves up to fall behind more forward-thinking competitors. Microsoft, of course, has taken a very different position with their Azure cloud, and has embraced the hybrid cloud concept, working closely with traditional OEMs who also advocate a hybrid cloud course.

Google has had the tools for a hybrid vision before, particularly with Kubernetes, the open source system they developed for orchestrating containers. Now, with their new Cloud Services Platform, which  Hölzle announced at the event, they have unveiled an infrastructure designed to promote and deliver that perspective to customers.

“We’re excited to share our vision for Cloud Services Platform, an integrated family of cloud services that lets you increase speed and reliability, improve security and governance and build once to run anywhere, across GCP and on-premise environments,” Hölzle stated. “Cloud Services Platform puts all your IT resources into a consistent development, management and control framework, automating away low-value and insecure tasks across your on-premise and Google Cloud infrastructure.”

Hölzle announced a series of tools designed to bring this vision to life, but a couple really stood out. The first of these is GKE On-Prem, the explicitly hybrid version of Google’s Google Kubernetes Engine for container management. It is scheduled to be in Alpha soon.

“This is something that makes the Cloud Services Platform truly revolutionary,” Hölzle said. “GKE On-Prem looks and feels like GKE in the cloud.”

GKE On-Prem provides Kubernetes’ unified multi-cluster registration and upgrade management, centralized monitoring and logging with the Stackdriver integration, and hybrid identity and access management. It also has access to the GCP Marketplace for Kubernetes applications.

Another new service is GKE Policy Management, which delivers centralized capabilities that make it far easier for administrators to configure any version of Kubernetes. It lets Kubernetes administrators create a single source of truth for their policies that automatically syncs with any enrolled cluster. GKE Policy Management supports policies stored as definitions in a repository, and can use existing Google Cloud IAM policies to make it simple to secure your clusters. GKE Policy Management is also coming soon to alpha.

The other service likely to attract the most notice is Istio, which isn’t exactly new, since it was announced last year, but it is now part of the Cloud Services Platform. Istio is an open-source service mesh that lets operators manage microservices at scale.

“Istio extends Kubernetes into higher level services and makes them reliable in a way that’s very easy on developers,” Hölzle said. “It doesn’t just lower admin costs. It provides more information about services so they can develop and manage them better.

“As of this week, Istio goes 1.0 and is ready for production use,” Hölzle added. “It is being used in production by companies like eBay and AutoTrader.”

In addition, Google Cloud is announcing a managed Istio service to manage services within a Kubernetes Engine cluster. Managed Istio, in alpha now, is an Istio-powered service mesh available in Kubernetes Engine, complete with enterprise support.