Google Cloud Services Platform Brings the Cloud On Premises

The public cloud isn't the only place where cloud-native Kubernetes workloads can run, as Google opens up a beta of its Cloud Services Platform, bringing the Google Kubernetes Engine to on-premises deployments.

GKE On Prem

Google is extending its Cloud Platform beyond the confines of its own data centers, enabling organizations to run its Cloud Services Platform on-premises.

The Cloud Services Platform (CSP) is available in beta as of Feb. 20, providing organizations with the ability to run Google cloud workloads on their own hardware infrastructure and manage it in a unified approach with workloads running in the public cloud. CSP is a Kubernetes based platform and brings the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) on-premises for organizations to run container workloads. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration system that was originally built by Google and is now developed by a multi-stakeholder community at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

"No one argues about the benefits of the cloud, but when customers move to the cloud, they recognize, and we at Google also recognize, that it's going to be a journey for them to move to the cloud and it will take time," Chen Goldberg, Director of Engineering, Container Engine and Kubernetes at Google, told eWEEK. "So what we hear from customers is that while they are moving to the cloud, still 90 percent of workloads are on premises."

Goldberg emphasized that CSP is all about Google embracing the hybrid cloud model, where organizations have cloud assets both in the public cloud and on-premises, providing freedom of choice for the most appropriate deployment model.

How GKE On Prem Works

With the regular version of GKE that runs on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Kubernetes is already setup and mostly ready to run, with just a few configuration options from users. For GKE On Prem as part of CSP, the setup is a little more involved, though Goldberg said that Google still does all the "heavy lifting' for users. CSP in its initial beta configuration runs on top of VMware vSphere 6.5 as the core software infrastructure.

"We provide an environment that allows you to a provision a cluster and manage it from on premises and from GKE so you get a single pane of glass," she said. "It allows you to look at all of your clusters and all of your workloads with the same capabilities that you have for your GKE in the cloud."

Beyond just management, Google also announced the GKE Marketplace, that enables administrators to easily provision and configure tested applications, both for on premises and cloud deployments, in the same way.

CSP Config Management

A core element of the Google on-premises cloud offering is the CSP Config Management feature. 

Goldberg explained that CSP Config Management is a way for administrators to manage policies, access control and custom configurations in a consistent way, using the same core Kubernetes controls across multiple environments. In its initial beta deployment those environments are limited to GKE and GKE on prem and do not extend to other public cloud providers that also have Kubernetes services.

"CSP is a software solution that is capable of running in many potential configurations," Goldberg said. "Right now we are focusing on what we hear from our customers, that their number one pain and challenge is inconsistency between on premises and GCP, but we continue talking with our customers and will continue to innovate and meet their needs."

Patch Management

Among the interesting attributes of both GKE in the cloud and on-premises is that Google enables its users to choose from a number of different release versions of Kubernetes. 

The open-source Kubernetes project iterates major milestone releases several times a year, adding new features and capabilities. The most recent update of Kubernetes is version 1.13 which was released in December 2018, the next major update with Kubernetes 1.14 is currently scheduled for release on March 25.

Goldberg said that Google provides auto-upgrade capabilities for both the Kubernetes master as well as cluster nodes across multiple supported versions.

"We take a lot of pride in making sure that those upgrades are reliable, it is something we've been doing for four years and we have a lot of lessons learned on how to do it right," she said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.