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April 13, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:28am

Google reveals hybrid cloud plans with OpenStack

News: Roadmap takes shape for Google's hybrid cloud future.

By James Nunns

Google’s plan to catch up with the front runners in the public cloud has taken a strategic step forward.

The company, which is ranked by many as the third largest public cloud, but a distance behind market leader Amazon Web Services and second placed Microsoft Azure, has revealed plans for creating hybrid clouds based on OpenStack.

In a blog post the company revealed that it has developed, in collaboration with Red Hat and Biarca, an OpenStack Cinder backup drive for Google Cloud Storage, available in the latest OpenStack release – Mitaka.

While the software component is not a particularly large one, it holds significant strategic importance.

Google joined the OpenStack Foundation in July 2015, when it revealed the Kubernetes integration with OpenStack, since then though the company has been a little quiet on the OpenStack front. Now though, Google is saying that its work with Mitaka is part of its roadmap to making the Google Cloud Platform a seamless public cloud complement for OpenStack environments.

OpenStack, which is often being deployed as a private cloud, as with deployments by Volkswagen, is effectively becoming Google’s path into the hybrid cloud space.

The block storage abstraction layer of Cinder uses drivers to communicate with different storage providers and allows provisions specifically for backup services and Google Cloud is one of those options, along with others.

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What all of this means is that Google is slowly assembling a hybrid cloud that’s built on open standards.

The company recently admitted that it got its enterprise cloud strategy wrong and its shifting position to a hybrid approach highlights a change in tact. Google has realised that hybrid is the future so it had better make it easy to connect on and off premises clouds.

Cinder’s importance is that it solves the problem of connecting Google to a private cloud, namely OpenStack. With this technology it can span local and remote data centres in a seamless fashion.

Google hasn’t fully solved its problems with hybrid cloud. Unlike Microsoft’s Azure or AWS, it is trying to fit together pieces that haven’t been native to its own cloud platform. Azure has links to other clouds such as HPE for a private deployment, however, it also offers this capability itself so users can have both public and private from the same vendor, AWS is similar.

The point of this is to be seamless so basically the user shouldn’t experience any difference in service when shifting between environments. OpenStack, while it has been working to solve its complexity problem still faces challenges and Google will have to make sure its hybrid links are as seamless as it hopes them to be.

Ben Chong, product manager and Mark Lambert, program manager, Google Cloud Platform, wrote on the company’s blog: "If you’re running OpenStack, there’s no need to invest in additional storage systems or build out a second datacenter for backup and recovery. You can now use Cloud Storage in a hybrid scenario, optimized via the Cinder backup driver now available in Mitaka."

The block storage driver’s removal of third party integration software should reduce the cost of large-scale implementation efforts and reduce the complexity. Google is starting to tick plenty of boxes for its hybrid cloud capabilities.

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