There are several cloud computing platforms around the world and three of the largest are Google, Amazon and Microsoft. These three platforms compete against one another but when it comes to big business and enterprise solutions, Microsoft has an advantage. As such, Google is more competing with Amazon at this juncture and have just made an announcement that may be something of a game changer: Google has announced that it is joining the OpenStack Foundation, the non-profit governing body overseeing the free cloud computing software, OverStack. OverStack has been supported by a number of large computing businesses including IBM, HP and Intel. The key advantage to Google in joining OpenStack is that because many businesses already support and run an OpenStack platform, it affords a high degree of compatibility with these existing enterprise data centres. Ultimately, going forward, Google’s adoption of OpenStack will mean that a big business can plug into Google’s Cloud Platform very simply and easily.
There is another advantage to Google’s Cloud Platform adopting the OpenStack standard and this is the “hybrid cloud” technology. Hybrid cloud systems are for when the business in question is unable or unwilling to place all of its computing resources in the cloud and so keeps some data and processing in-house. There can be several reasons for wanting to run a hybrid cloud system such as regulatory compliance (that limit how and where a business can store its data) or perhaps the business wish to continue to utilize their expensive existing in-house data servers. Microsoft has traditionally maintained an advantage in hybrid cloud technology since Windows Server is a near-ubiquitous technology and Microsoft’s public cloud product, called Azure, has deep integration with Microsoft Windows. This makes it easy to plug in cloud computing module into an existing Windows Server set up and it’s something neither Amazon nor Google can quite replicate. OpenStack software has the ability to relatively easily convert a cloud set up into a private cloud that can easily be incorporated into a hybrid cloud setup. For those businesses where OpenStack has become something of an operating system for the in-house data centre, this means that Google’s Cloud Platform can now relatively easily be used to built a bolt-on hybrid cloud.
Another announcement is that Google is incorporating software container technology into their adoption of OpenStack. This new technology, pioneered by Docker, is designed to let a developer write code once and deploy it anywhere. This makes it much easier for people to move applications between OpenStack and the Google Cloud Platform, which again helps make the new product that much more accessible and desirable for enterprises. Google Cloud Platform’s spokesman, Craig MuLuckie, explains: “[We’re] letting our customers pick where they run their workloads solely technical on the merit of the platform, and their specific business needs. Ensuring that the technologies we build work well everywhere is a big part of that.” Google’s support for OpenStack is also useful, as there had been concerns the platform would still be around in a few years.