• Serious investment into the partner channel. I’ll talk about these aspects in another post but for now, suffice it to say that Google is spending up large in enterprise sales and support, professional services and developing its global channel partners. Particularly surprising was Greene’s stated ambition that 100% of deals for Google Cloud will have external partners attached to them
  • GKE On-Prem is an on-premises version of Googles existing Kubernetes Engine product but, in this case, and as the name suggests, it is fully managed by Google for deployments across enterprise data centers. The service includes access to all of the standard features of GKE, including the ability to register and manage clusters and monitor them with Stackdriver, as well as identity and access management. It also includes a connection to the GCP Marketplace, which recently launched support for Kubernetes-based applications. Using the GCP console, customers can seamlessly manage all their GKE clusters, be they on-premises or in the cloud. The oft-mentioned single pane of glass vision is realized. It should be noted that GKE On-Prem will be available in alpha later this year with an unknown GA date at this stage
  • Knative, a new project that aims to help customers set up serverless infrastructure (and, yes, that is something of an oxymoron) that runs the same code across multiple public clouds or on-premises. Built on top of Kubernetes alongside the Istio service mesh, Knative aims to abstract away all the requirements for preparing and running an application in a cloud-native way
  • A new CI/CD offering, Google Cloud Build, which is deeply integrated with GitHub (interestingly enough given the recent acquisition of that company by Microsoft)

The competitive position

While these announcements were, as I already mentioned, something of a surprise from Google, they don’t exactly come out of the blue from the broader cloud industry. AWS has a dual-sided approach to hybrid. Firstly via its edge devices and secondly via a partnership with VMware which is still in its earliest stages.

For its part Microsoft has long talked a very strong hybrid cloud story but has been lacking when it comes to execution – Azure Stack, which was finally released a few months ago, has been a very, very long time coming. There is also some confusion from customers and partners as to what Azure Stack actually is – many still think it’s a “cloud in a box” and hence a great way to avoid the continued march to the public cloud. Microsoft doesn’t see it this way but the confusion still exists.

Of the three big vendors, Microsoft is, as I’ve already mentioned, the most natural hybrid cloud vendor and it has been a frustration to many cloud pundits that Redmond has taken so long to get to this point. That said, Azure Stack is now out into the wild and one would think that its availability, as well as the breadth of services that are supported on Azure Stack, will grow rapidly.

The big unknown, as is often the case, is AWS and its intentions. We’re only a few months away from re:Invent, AWS’ annual conference and I would be very surprised if we didn’t see some very strong moves in the direction of hybrid from the company. AWS already has Snowball, its mass-storage device designed for on-premises implementations, I’d not be at all surprised to see compute offered from Snowball and, if AWS went down this road, that would be essentially a fully hybrid AWS cloud service available on an already in-market platform.


It needs to be stated clearly that these on-prem offerings while planting a huge stake in the ground, aren’t generally available yet. As one of the attendees at the analyst summit opined via Twitter, an announcement, and general availability, with all the enterprise expectations that go with it, are two different things:

GKE On-Prem is in alpha until later this year, then beta until maybe 2019 sometime? It will be more interesting after it has an SLA. Demonstrating multi-cloud interoperability to several nines is apparently not as easy as talking about it…

— Paul Teich (@paulrteich) July 24, 2018

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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