Hybrid and Multi Cloud with Google Anthos

Hybrid and Multi Cloud poses new challenges for companies. Anthos is the solution from Google Cloud.

Author: Matthias Hert

The public cloud promises many advantages, such as simple and unlimited scalability, the optimization of operating expenses, and constant innovation. 

Cloud is the basis for modern software solutions and new software development projects are implemented directly in the cloud. 

Unfortunately, however, most decision-makers cannot start on a greenfield site. Instead, they often have complex application landscapes on-premises, which usually cannot be moved to the cloud to cover their costs. 

There is not much to be gained from lifting & shifting applications to a VM in the cloud. Applications should not be moved 1:1, but modernized immediately during migration. 

However, this must be done in a targeted manner. In other words, a decision must be made for each application whether modernization based on cloud technologies is worthwhile. 

It is quite possible that there are applications that should not be migrated due to their complexity or age. Instead, these on-premises should continue to operate until they are replaced or decommissioned. 

Thus a hybrid cloud scenario will quickly become reality. Hybrid cloud means running applications both on-premises, in your own data center, and in a public cloud (Figure 1). 

If applications are even to be operated by several public cloud providers, this is called a multi cloud.

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Figure 1: Hybrid Cloud

Challenges of Hybrid and Multi Cloud

Hybrid and multi-cloud scenarios present companies with new challenges that must be solved.

  1. Central monitoring

    As already described, in a hybrid cloud scenario applications are operated both on-premises in the private cloud and in the public cloud. This leads to two different and separate infrastructures that need to be monitored. The effort for monitoring increases instead of decreasing. A central monitoring of both infrastructures and the applications running on them would be desirable. This is also known as a «single pane of glass».

  2. Comprehensive configuration management

    Another challenge that arises from the separation of the application platforms is the management of the configurations. How can you ensure that infrastructure and applications are configured identically both on-premises and in the public cloud? If the configuration on-premises and in the public cloud are maintained independently, it is only a matter of time before the configurations diverge. This can quickly become critical, especially in the security area.

  3. Operation of the on-premises infrastructure

    If the on-premises infrastructure is supplemented by public cloud offerings, the operating expenses increase first of all. Even if the cloud promises lower operating expenses, the cost of the on-premises infrastructure is not automatically reduced.

  4. Connecting the on-premises and public cloud worlds

    The outsourcing of parts of the applications to the public cloud creates a «gap» between the public cloud and on-premises, which must be overcome. In a microservice-based application, the individual microservices must be able to communicate with each other securely, regardless of whether they run in the public cloud or on-premises. If this has to be done manually again and again, additional effort is required and the complexity of application development increases.

How Google Cloud solves these challenges with Anthos

Google Cloud describes Anthos as a «modern application platform for your business» that allows applications to be modernized, redeveloped and securely run anywhere (Figure 2). In concrete terms, the challenges described are being met.

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Figure 2: Google Anthos architectural sketch

1.    The Google Cubernetes Engine Hub

With Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) container-based applications can be executed in a managed Kubernetes cluster. GKE Hub is an extension of this cloud service. With it any Kubernetes cluster can be integrated into the monitoring. It does not matter whether the clusters run in GKE, on-premises or in another public cloud. A «single pane of glass» as central monitoring becomes reality.

2.    Anthos Config Management

Anthos Config Management is a component for the central administration of configurations. Configurations are versioned and managed as source code in a Git repository. A software component monitors this repository and all Kubernetes clusters registered in Anthos / GKE Hub and automatically ensures that all clusters match the configuration in the repository. Configuration adjustments can thus be made centrally and rolled out in a coordinated manner. Undesirable differences in the configuration (e.g. due to manual changes) are also detected and automatically corrected. This is also called GitOps.

3.    GKE On-Prem

With GKE On-Prem, the GKE service can be operated in your own data centre. As a pure software solution from Google, GKE On-Prem can be set up on the existing hardware. This allows you to benefit from most of the advantages of the Managed GKE Cloud Service also on-premises and get the operating and management costs under control.

4.    Anthos Service Mesh

Google Anthos overcomes the «gap» between cloud and on-premises with a so-called service mesh. The service mesh is based on the open source technology Istio and spans a network across the container infrastructures in both the public cloud and on-premises. Applications can connect to this network and automatically benefit from many features, such as secure communications to other applications in the service mesh. It makes no difference to the applications whether they run in the public cloud or on-premises.

And if your applications do not run in containers?

f your applications are not yet running in containers and cubernets, Anthos does not seem to be a solution at first glance. But this is not the case! With Migrate for Anthos, Google offers tools for (partially) automated containerization of applications running on virtual machines or directly on «bare metal» servers. This allows the modernization of applications to be carried out on-premises.

Conclusion

Hybrid or even Multi Cloud will soon be reality for many companies. A strong hybrid cloud solution is needed to realize the advantages of the public cloud and to keep the (operating) effort and costs within reasonable limits. In this article we have shown how Google Anthos addresses these challenges:

  • Google Kubernets Engine Hub as «single pane of glass»

  • Anthos Config Management as central administration of configurations

  • GKE On-Prem as managed service for the On-Premises infrastructure

  • Anthos Service Mesh as a «bridge» between on-premises and public cloud

  • Migrate for Anthos as a tool for modernizing applications

Anthos also hides many other useful features that solve challenges in a hybrid cloud setup.

Und wenn Ihre Anwendungen nicht in Container laufen?

Falls Ihre Anwendungen noch nicht in Container und Kubernetes laufen, scheint Anthos auf den ersten Blick keine Lösung zu sein. Dem ist aber nicht so! Mit Migrate for Anthos bietet Google Werkzeuge zur (teil-)automatisierten Containerisierung von Anwendungen, die auf Virtual Machines oder direkt auf «Bare Metal» Servern laufen. Damit kann eine Modernisierung der Anwendungen On-Premises durchgeführt werden.