Under the covers, Anthos is a combination of Google's Kubernetes Engine (GKE), GKE On-Prem and the Anthos Config Management console for unified administration, policies and security across hybrid Kubernetes deployments. It is hardware agnostic and can be run on customers' existing servers or with VMware, Dell EMC, HPE, Intel, and Lenovo racks.
In fairly typical Google style the key differentiator here is its interoperability and open source credentials. "Anthos will also let you manage workloads running on third-party clouds like AWS and Azure, giving you the freedom to deploy, run and manage your applications on the cloud of your choice, without requiring administrators and developers to learn different environments and APIs," the vendor outlined in a blog post at the time.
"Today, if you talk to Azure they will say you can run Azure Stack on-premise and on the cloud, Amazon will say you can run Outposts on-premise and in the AWS cloud. They are fine companies, but they're not solving the multi-cloud problem," Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian added.
McQuire at CCS Insight said: "With the arrival of Anthos, and in particular its support of open source, particularly Kubernetes, Google is now taking a much more realistic path in meeting customers where they are on their cloud journeys and is aiming to become the standard in hybrid, multi-cloud services in this next phase of the cloud market."
Anthos is charged as a monthly term-based subscription with a minimum one-year commitment. It's then priced on incremental blocks of 100 vCPUs, starting at $10,000 per block regardless of where that workload is running.
Oracle Cloud at Customer
Oracle's Infrastructure-as-a-Service business may not be booming, but it has long provided a hybrid option for customers called Cloud at Customer.
Launched in 2016, the service brings together cloud infrastructure and platform services, such as database, big data and app development, as well as software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM), into customers' own data centres.
Oracle provides converged Oracle hardware, software-defined storage and management services to run applications for customers. The company simply asks for data centre floor space, networking and power, before implementing everything on-premise and managing the cloud services, complete with regular upgrades.
The only difference is that Oracle asks customers to sign a longer-term deal - three to four years minimum - to account for the capital expenditure involved with the shipping and installing of dedicated hardware.
Nirav Mehta, VP of product management at Oracle, describes the service as if "Oracle Cloud stretched from our data centre to the customer, so the same stack but all the data lives at the customer site."
"We go in to size, build, ship, deploy and manage the software, so we go in for a turnkey deployment," he added.
Oracle says the service has proved popular with public sector customers, including within the UK government, as well as in financial services. Bank of America and AT&T are two customers willing to be named.
IBM has made a clear strategic shift towards being a hybrid cloud vendor since its $33 billion acquisition of the open source Linux company Red Hat in 2018.
"IBM will become the world's number one hybrid cloud provider, offering companies the only open cloud solution that will unlock the full value of the cloud for their businesses," IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said at the time of the acquisition.
It's still early days but IBM clearly wants to set itself out as an independent partner to customers looking to run hybrid, multi-cloud environments by bringing a set of tools and services "to help businesses migrate, integrate and manage applications and workloads seamlessly and with security across any public or private cloud and on-premises IT environment," the vendor said in a press release.
More specifically, this includes a new IBM Cloud Integration Platform to help operate cloud services across cloud and on-premise environments under one secure operating model and toolset. The 'container-based' platform promises easy porting of data and applications across infrastructure and aligns API management, events and enterprise messaging.
On the services side, IBM seems to be aligning much of its sales and consulting teams around advising customers on "how to architect the right holistic cloud strategy from design, migration, integration, road mapping and architectural services to navigating their journey to cloud," the vendor said.
An early reference customer for this is Santander Bank, which announced that it will be investing $700 million over five years to place IBM as "one of Santander Group's main transformation partner - helping Banco Santander to implement their hybrid cloud strategy."
IBM is supporting the bank with its "methodologies and processes to accelerate that transformation journey. Additionally, the bank is using a range of technologies including IBM devops solutions and IBM API Connect, aimed to develop, iterate and launch new or upgraded applications and digital services much more rapidly," according to a press release.
There are of course other options outside of the big cloud vendors that can help customers run hybrid too, such as Cisco CloudCenter or VMware vCloud Suite and Tanzu, which was launched in 2019 to help customers adopt Kubernetes and run applications across a wide range of infrastructure options.
\OpenStack is another option that springs to mind. With the open source alternative customers can bridge the gap between multiple cloud software and hardware vendors, but to do so requires some pretty hardcore skills and expertise within your organisation.