Will Google’s Anthos steer the hybrid cloud juggernaut?


Search behemoth Google has Australia firmly in its sights for its Google Cloud Platform (GPC) and is taking substantial steps in the region, as the 4000 attendees at the recent Google Cloud Summit in Sydney can attest to.

Australia has recently become one of Google’s 20 global regions and is seen as key within its ambitious global growth plans. Globally, over $US47bn in capital has been invested in the past 3 years.

This investment has been both organic and through acquisition. The aggressive inorganic procurement approach to portfolio expansion has been a theme amongst technology providers over the past two years – the likes of AWS, ServiceNow, IBM, Salesforce, Cisco, and VMware have spent in excess of $70bn expanding their portfolios alone.

Portfolio expansion has not been delivered purely through acquisition, though. Much of Google’s investment has been in product development with 130 new product offerings launched in 2019 alone. A number of these were showcased at the recent Google Cloud Summit in Sydney, including G-Suite enhancements; Contact Center AI; BigQuery BI Engine; Cloud Data Fusion; SaaS Application Connectors; and Smart Analytics.

However, possibly the most significant announcement at the Summit was the rollout of Anthos, Google’s secure hybrid and multi-cloud platform targeted at developing, delivering and managing application modernisation. Even though Google already has one of the largest cloud infrastructure capabilities in the market, it is targeting this hybrid cloud bandwagon through its “infrastructure as code” approach. The Anthos philosophy is to provide customers with a “write once, run anywhere” capability that will allow for customisation all the way from on-premise through to public cloud – and not just on GCP.

Beyond portfolio expansion, security and the associated accreditations was a common theme throughout the Summit. Google had been working through its IRAP certification for at least the past three years, achieving the accreditation milestone for the management of federal unclassified information on 13 December 2018.

From a go to market perspective, Google is very much focused on the trade-offs organisations have historically had to make - security vs agility; reliability vs cost and portability vs consistency and scalability. Its approach to helping eliminate the need for such trade-offs is to leverage its globally distributed infrastructure, overlayed with an intelligent platform and establishing standardised and re-usable industry solutions (Australia Post’s OCR and telematics offerings, for example). 

The Intermedium perspective

Public sector agencies are increasingly aware that their ‘cloud future’ will comprise a hybrid blend of on-premise, private and public cloud and a player that has a proven capability in delivering and managing such services will be considered.

Historically, Google’s ‘technical experience counts’ approach has created a deep appreciation of its capabilities and the Google Cloud Platform has strong pockets of advocacy across the Federal Government as an alternative to the dominance of the Microsoft Azure and AWS offerings. The Anthos tool is an approach that may bring not only Google's capabilities but the broader hybrid services together under one roof. 

However, with hybrid cloud and many associated services growing at substantial double-digit levels, there is recognition that skills shortages in areas such as cloud engineering, analytics and machine learning are acute and Google is, therefore, emphasising its human capital investment locally.

Beyond increasing headcount and capability, Google is aware that Google Cloud Platform will require a strong and focused group of partners, especially those that can fill these newer skills gaps. Expanding into partnerships with the likes of Freelancer.com, as well as enhancing its relationships with traditional broader technology partners, such as SAP (for S4/HANA to GCP migration) and the cohort of systems integration partners in attendance at its separate Partner Day, highlights the high priority the ecosystem is receiving.

Google is aware that the Australian public sector is a crowded space and is willing to play public sector long game. Focusing on its core strengths (strong engineering legacy, deep specialisation and extensive ecosystem) and highlighting its differentiation around offerings such as Anthos and Big Query, its deeply embedded security posture and open multi-cloud model should enable it to raise its profile and footprint.

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