Here are three quick thoughts on Google’s recent decision to become a corporate sponsor of OpenStack:
1. Google’s support of OpenStack marks one of the biggest endorsements to date of OpenStack, and as such, bolsters the credibility of the platform even further. Even though OpenStack is currently endorsed by the likes of Platinum Members Red Hat, IBM, HP and Rackspace, Google’s announcement constitutes an especially significant announcement given its ownership of a competitor public cloud IaaS platform in the form of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google’s endorsement suggests that the days of OpenStack’s segregation from proprietary public clouds such as the Google Cloud Platform, AWS and Microsoft Azure may well be numbered and that the IaaS space may well end up developing APIs from proprietary platforms to OpenStack in the foreseeable future.
2. The cloud computing industry is increasingly coming to terms with hybrid cloud infrastructures and the necessity for interoperability across different cloud ecosystems. By supporting OpenStack, Google embraces cloud hybridity and in particular, the necessity for Kubernetes to integrate deeply with the OpenStack ecosystem. Given that enterprises almost invariably embrace some combination of private and public clouds as part of their larger cloud strategy, Google’s support of OpenStack constitutes an emphatic affirmation not only of OpenStack, but also of the criticality of hybrid cloud infrastructures and management frameworks at this stage of the evolution of cloud computing.
3. Google’s collaboration with OpenStack on the Kubernetes project underscores the emerging ascendancy of containers to contemporary cloud computing as an alternative and complement to virtual machine based computing. By working with OpenStack to ensure the compatibility of Kubernetes as part of Project Magnum, Google is betting big on increased adoption of container technology throughout the industry. Furthermore, Google is placing its bet that Kubernetes, as opposed to other container management frameworks, has the pizazz to emerge as one of the premier container management frameworks in the industry, particularly in light of its forthcoming, deepened integration with OpenStack.
On Thursday, Google announced its sponsorship of the OpenStack Foundation as a corporate sponsor. As noted in a blog post, Google’s decision to join the OpenStack Foundation is motivated by industry trends toward adoption of hybrid clouds and container-based application development. By sponsoring OpenStack, Google is expected to contribute heavily to OpenStack Magnum, the project that aspires to ensure the compatibility of container orchestration platforms such as Docker and Kubernetes with OpenStack. Google’s contribution toward the integration of Kubernetes with OpenStack is expected to accelerate the adoption of container technologies and thereby facilitate development of more robust hybrid cloud infrastructures marked by the union of increasingly heterogeneous computing infrastructures. Google’s sponsorship of OpenStack represents a huge coup for the OpenStack Foundation and marks another notable twist in the ongoing battle for cloud market share amongst the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
At its annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google announced the “Cloud Test Lab,” a platform for testing mobile apps that enables developers to automate the testing of applications on a multitude of Android devices. The Cloud Test Lab provides free automated testing on a tier of “top 20” Android devices and plans to expand the number of devices supported to more than 20 devices. Google’s Cloud Test Lab allows users to examine the compatibility of their applications on different devices by obtaining “crash reports” featuring video snapshots illustrating instances where the application crashed. To use the Google Cloud Test Lab, developers upload their application and run tests on multiple devices in parallel. At the end of testing, customers obtain a report summarizing the progress of testing across all relevant devices with testing results and log files. Based on technology from its acquisition of Appurify, the Cloud Test Lab attempts to both improve the performance of Android-based applications and respond to fragmentation within the Android community by giving developers a unified platform for testing. That said, Google will need to compete with more mature testing platforms such as Sauce Labs and Xamarin in addition to ever increasing fragmentation within the Android community. Google’s Cloud Test Lab for mobile applications is expected to be available later this year.
On Monday, Google introduced Google Compute Engine pre-emptible virtual machines. Pre-emptible machines enjoy a 70% discount on standard pricing but may be shut down at any time and have a maximum runtime of 24 hours. The larger vision behind pre-emptible machines involves Google’s objective of reclaiming computing capacity depending upon the intensity and duration of other workloads within its public cloud environment. By shutting down pre-emptible machines and recovering compute capacity, the Google Cloud Platform can maintain a high degree of performance without spinning up additional VMs, thereby saving operational overhead and concurrently passing along some of the attendant cost savings to the customer. Given the unpredictability with which pre-emptible virtual machines may be shut down, they are suited only for select use cases such as massive data processing, data analytics, visual effects and simulations that are not time sensitive with respect to the allotted time period for their completion. Pre-emptible machines are ideal for applications that are architected such that they can handle the termination of a few VMs on a periodic basis. Meanwhile, customers stand to enjoy fixed pricing in addition to the 70% pricing discount and may subsequently decide to allocate a designated percentage of their fleet of VMs to pre-emptible machines in recognition of the way in which their computational processing is only minimally impacted by periodic VM shutdowns. Google announced pre-emptible virtual machines in conjunction with significant price cuts for VMs for Google Compute Engine amounting to a maximum of 30%. Google’s elaboration of Google Cloud Platform price cuts and the availability of pre-emptible machines indicate the intensity of competition in the IaaS space where prices skyrocket downward as major players such as Microsoft and Google intensify their assault on Amazon’s stranglehold on the leadership position in the IaaS space.
On Wednesday, Google announced Google Cloud Bigtable, a NoSQL database that can be accessed via the Apache HBase API. Powered by Bigtable, the database that powers Google applications such as Google Search and Gmail, Google Cloud Bigtable delivers a highly scalable database that specializes in ingesting and performing analytics on massive datasets. Google Cloud Bigtable delivers latency on the order of single-digit milliseconds and twofold performance benefits in comparison to other “unmanaged NoSQL alternatives.” In a blog post, Google Product Manager Cory O’Connor revealed performance advantages of Google Cloud BigTable over Hbase and Cassandra with respect to both write throughput per dollar and read/write latency, in milliseconds. As a fully managed service, customers need not take responsibility for Google Cloud Bigtable’s infrastructure but can instead focus on populating Google Cloud Bigtable with data and subsequently refining the analytic insights needed to more effectively run business operations. The product integrates with Hadoop and subsequently supports the ingestion of big data in a variety of formats.
Because the platform’s underlying architecture has been used to power prominent Google applications for years, customers can reasonably expect Google Cloud Bigtable to deliver on its promises of low latency, high performance and scalability. The product targets organizations with massive data ingestion needs and embraces use cases related to the internet of things as well as verticals such as financial services that handle massive volumes of data, daily. By releasing Google Cloud Bigtable, Google renders the same technology used to underpin much of its commercial operations more broadly accessible and in so doing, draws a parallel to Amazon’s release of Amazon Machine Learning, a product that is similarly derived from the very technology used to run Amazon’s own internal business operations. Google’s decision to democratize the core technology of its BigTable application symptomatically illustrates a broader trend in enterprise IT whereby technology behemoths such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have the capability to monetize curated versions of products they have used to run their own business operations for years and thereby make available, to everyday enterprises, battle-tested technology that can be used for data ingestion, analytics and visualization.
CoreOS has announced that its rkt (pronounced: rocket) container technology will be integrated with Google’s Kubernetes container management framework. The integration of CoreOS rocket technology with Kubernetes means that the Kubernetes framework need not leverage Docker containers, but can instead rely solely on CoreOS Linux container technology. CoreOS’s rkt technology consists of container runtime software that implements appc, the App container specification designed to provide a standard for containers based around requirements related to composability, security, image distribution and openness. CoreOS launched rocket on the premise that Docker containers had strayed from its original manifesto of developing “a simple component, a composable unit, that could be used in a variety of systems” as noted by CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi in a December 2014 blog post:
Unfortunately, a simple re-usable component is not how things are playing out. Docker now is building tools for launching cloud servers, systems for clustering, and a wide range of functions: building images, running images, uploading, downloading, and eventually even overlay networking, all compiled into one monolithic binary running primarily as root on your server. The standard container manifesto was removed. We should stop talking about Docker containers, and start talking about the Docker Platform. It is not becoming the simple composable building block we had envisioned.
Here, Polvi notes how Docker has transitioned from an initiative focused around creating reusable components to a platform whose mission has deviated from its original manifesto. Today’s announcement of the integration of CoreOS with Kubernetes represents a deepening of the relationship between CoreOS and Google that recently included a $12M funding round led by Google Ventures. While CoreOS previously supported Kubernetes, today’s announcement of its integration into Google’s container management framework represents a clear sign that the battle for container supremacy is now likely to begin in earnest, particularly given that CoreOS brands itself as enabling other technology companies to build Google-like infrastructures. With Google’s wind behind its sails, and executives from Google, Red Hat and Twitter having joined the App container specification community management team, Docker now confronts a real challenger to its supremacy within the container space. Moreover, Google, VMware, Red Hat and Apcera have all pledged support for appc in ways that suggest an alternative standard that defines “how applications can be packaged, distributed, and executed in a portable and self-contained way” may well be emerging.