Google Anthos Is Starting to Make Inroads in Colocation Data Centers

The Kubernetes platform has received much attention as a multicloud solution, but its utility extends beyond public clouds.

Christopher Tozzi, Technology Analyst

September 16, 2020

3 Min Read
Google CEO Sundar Pichai unveiling Anthos at Google Cloud Next 2019
Google CEO Sundar Pichai unveiling Anthos at Google Cloud Next 2019Alphabet

Anthos, the platform at the core of Google’s hybrid cloud play, has received much attention for its ability to simplify multicloud architectures. But Google is also catering to Anthos use cases involving colocation data centers, a focus highlighted by Equinix’s recent announcement of support for Anthos on its bare-metal-as-a-service platform, designed by its recently purchased company Packet.

Here’s what Google Anthos means for the colocation industry, and why organizations might want to take advantage of it to manage colocated infrastructure.

What Is Google Anthos?

Anthos is a platform that uses Kubernetes, the open source container orchestrator, to create a single control plane across diverse infrastructure. With Anthos, you can take multiple public clouds and/or private servers and manage them as if they were a single cloud.

Although Anthos is a Google product, it works with other public clouds -- including Azure and AWS -- in addition to Google Cloud. That’s one of the key differentiators between Anthos and hybrid cloud solutions from other companies, such as Microsoft Azure Stack, which supports only Azure’s cloud services.

Anthos and Colocation

To date, most of the press surrounding Google Anthos has focused on its potential for simplifying multicloud architectures, in which organizations want to use multiple public clouds at once. By providing a single management interface and application deployment solution that will work with any mix of public clouds, Anthos makes it easier to embrace multicloud.

Related:How Google Cloud Plans to Win Enterprises from AWS and Azure

But what about companies that run workloads in colocation facilities and don’t have a need for multicloud architectures? Google wants Anthos to simplify their management and deployment strategies, too, by allowing them to leverage modern management tools while still keeping workloads running on colocated infrastructure.

In other words, with Anthos, colocation customers can use the modern Kubernetes-based tooling that is built into Anthos to manage workloads hosted in colocation facilities. They don’t need to rely on solutions like VMware, which is less vendor-agnostic, or turn their infrastructure into a private cloud using OpenStack if they want to be able to deploy and manage applications in colocation centers in the same way that they would in the cloud.

What’s more, because Google has now announced support for running Anthos on bare-metal servers, colocation users have another reason to leverage the platform: It will allow them to avoid paying the “hypervisor tax” that comes with virtualization, while still managing their workloads using Google’s tooling. Even better, in cases where colocation providers actively support Anthos, users can take advantage of interconnection to enhance network performance, too. Again, Equinix (through Packet, which it acquired earlier this year) has already announced interconnection-enabled support for Anthos, and other colocation vendors may follow.

Related:Industry-Tailored Clouds Give Platforms More Marketplaces They Can Run

Anthos, Private Cloud, and Colocation

To put all of this another way, Google Anthos is emerging as an alternative to traditional private cloud solutions, like OpenStack and VMware, for organizations that want to manage colocated servers in an easy way. And because Anthos can now run on bare metal, it offers performance advantages that other private cloud frameworks, which require virtualization, generally cannot. (OpenStack provides somewhat comparable bare-metal support through Ironic, but setting up Ironic and integrating it into other OpenStack services is more complex and time-consuming than deploying Anthos.)

There are, of course, reasons why companies may not want to use Anthos to manage colocated servers. For one, it’s designed for the deployment of containerized applications using Kubernetes. If your applications aren’t already running as containers, migrating them to fit the Anthos framework may be more effort than it’s worth.

Anthos is also, again, a Google product. Although it is compatible with clouds that compete with Google’s, and it offers more product flexibility than solutions like VMware, it’s still not a totally vendor-agnostic solution. The spectre of lock-in may be a turn-off for some teams.

Nonetheless, it seems a safe bet that Google Anthos will become increasingly important to the colocation industry over the next couple of years, as organizations realize that the platform is more than just a multicloud solution.

Read more about:

Google AlphabetEquinix

About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Technology Analyst, Fixate.IO

Christopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.

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