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Multicloud Storage

Google Anthos: The First True Multi Cloud Platform?

What is Google Anthos?

Anthos is Google’s new managed applications platform, which lets you run Kubernetes and other workloads consistently, across on-premises data centers and multiple public clouds.

Google Anthos may be the first true multi cloud platform backed by a major cloud provider, with native support for on-premises deployments, Google Cloud and Amazon, and soon to be integrated with Microsoft Azure.

Anthos focuses on three key capabilities:

  • Multi-cloud container orchestration—Anthos runs on both bare-metal servers and existing virtualized infrastructures, enabling you to administer Kubernetes clusters both on-premises or in the cloud. It provides a simplified application stack that is easy to use and does not require a costly hypervisor layer.
  • Automating policies—Anthos configuration manager enforces enterprise-level policies across multi-cloud deployments, ensuring constant compliance and security enforcement.
  • Modernizing security—enables integrating security throughout an application’s develop-build-run cycle. Creates a defense-in-depth security model that employs a broad selection of security controls, consistently across all environments.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about cloud storage.

In this article, you will learn:

What are the Building Blocks of Google Cloud Anthos?

Google Kubernetes Engine

At the heart of Anthos is Google’s Kubernetes Engine (GKE), which performs activities like:

  • Management of Kubernetes clusters and dependent applications
  • Monitoring applications and switching loads between on-premises and cloud
  • Cluster fault tolerance and healing

GKE lets you reserve IP addresses via Google cloud VPN, and lets you allocate compute resources to a cluster, scaling up or scaling down the deployment in accordance with memory demands.

GKE operates on a container-optimized operating system, designed especially for Kubernetes. It uses the Docker Container format, integrating UnionFS, control groups, and namespaces. GKE is a fully managed service, and Google takes responsibility for resilience and high availability.

You can manage all resources using built-in dashboards and gain actionable insights into the functionality of applications using Google Cloud (Stackdriver) Monitoring and Logging services.

Read our introductory guide to Google Anthos: Hybrid Deployment on Google Cloud: Meet Google Anthos

GKE On-Prem

With GKE On-Prem, you can run fully managed Kubernetes clusters in your data center, managing them in the GCP console alongside cloud-based clusters. Designed for on-premises deployments, GKE On-Prem is a virtual appliance that runs on top of VMware vSphere 6.5. Google is working on supporting additional hypervisors including Hyper-V and KVM.

GKE On-Prem fully addresses Kubernetes version upgrades and security patches. Google Cloud Identity is used to manage cluster access. Stackdriver Monitoring and Stackdriver Logging provide rich data about on-prem cluster performance.

Anthos Config Management

Anthos Config Management helps deploy Kubernetes across a range of environments. It lets you simultaneously configure and maintain multiple clusters, and rapidly develop applications across hybrid container environments. You can manage access and policy controls, and guarantee effective enforcement using a central Git repository, providing developers with enterprise-grade security in a consistent environment.

Config Management supports Kubernetes-native configuration formats, including YAML and JSON, to manage a large number of clusters simultaneously. It can allocate resource quotas to production and staging resources, thereby simplifying the configuration policy processes for groups of clusters.


GKE Hub is the networking component of Anthos, which helps connect Google Cloud Services Platform, other cloud providers, and your on-prem data GKE clusters. GKE lets you tie together and access all data from across a multi-cloud deployment, view and manage all Kubernetes clusters on a single pane of glass.


Istio lets you connect GCP, third-party clouds, databases and other components into a single service mesh, supporting load balancing, monitoring of large numbers of clusters, and traffic management. At the user level it provides capabilities like circuit-breakers, timeouts and retries, traffic splitting, active and passive health checks, and rapid recovery from failures.

Istio lets you create clusters easily and can perform operations on currently deployed clusters, providing improved visibility over service behavior, performance, and application insights.

anthos-1Anthos Architecture Diagram

Anthos Support for AWS

Google Anthos was the first hybrid cloud solution from a major cloud provider to support deployment on another, competing cloud provider. Anthos for AWS was made generally available in April 2020. Its main features include:

  • Reliability—deploy Kubernetes control plane and worker nodes across multiple Amazon availability zones (AZ).
  • Auto-scaling—automatically add or remove nodes based on application load.
  • Integration with existing AWS environments—Anthos can work in an existing Amazon virtual private cloud (VPCs), integrating with existing security groups. Services can be seamlessly connected to AWS load balancers.
  • Operational consistency—Anthos provides a single pane of glass for managing clusters on both Google Cloud and AWS.
  • Unified logs—you can store logs for both Google and Amazon cloud environments in Google Cloud Logging (Stackdriver).
  • Integration with Anthos stack—Anthos Config Management can apply policies to Amazon resources, and all resources can be securely connected across Google Cloud, Amazon, and on-premises with Anthos Service Mesh.

In addition, Google has announced that Anthos will support Microsoft Azure, and will then enable deploying workloads across all three major public clouds. At the time of this writing, Anthos support for Azure is still under development.

Google Anthos vs. AWS Outposts vs Azure Stack

Google Anthos competes with hybrid cloud offering from the other major cloud providers—AWS Outposts and Azure Stack. Here is a brief review of the differences between these products.

Hardware Options

Google Anthos has partnerships with Cisco, Dell EMC, HPE, Intel, NetApp, and many other hardware makers (see all partnerships), so it can work with almost any on-premises hardware you already own.

Azure Stack only works on servers certified by Microsoft—most of them hardened appliances designed for Azure Stack. This means that to run Azure Stack, you’ll need to purchase specialized hardware.

AWS Outposts is a managed service that only works on fully managed hardware devices designed and supported by AWS.

Deployment Effort

With Google Anthos, your organization is responsible for setting up on-premises hardware and deploying Anthos.

With Azure Stack Hub and HCI, you are similarly responsible for preparing hardware and deploying the Azure Stack software on it. However, Azure Stack Edge comes as a managed appliance you can deploy in your data center with minimal setup. 

AWS Outposts is a fully managed appliance that Amazon ships to your data center, installs, and operates. This requires almost no deployment effort from your organization.

Multi-Cloud Support

Google Anthos is a Kubernetes distribution, and so by design it is cloud agnostic and vendor agnostic. It can run on any public cloud and is easy to migrate between clouds, because all cloud providers natively support Kubernetes. As mentioned above, Anthos added explicit integration with AWS, and will add integration with the Azure cloud in the future.

Azure Stack only works with the Microsoft Azure cloud and cannot be integrated with other public clouds.

AWS Outposts, similarly, does not support other clouds apart from Amazon. It also doesn’t provide an easy way to migrate workloads to any other cloud provider.

Related content: read more about Azure Stack in our guide to Azure hybrid cloud

Google Anthos Storage Optimization with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides Kubernetes storage integration for persistent storage requirements of containerized workloads.

Learn more about Using Google Anthos with NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

See Additional Guides on Key Cloud Storage Topics

Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of cloud storage.

Google Cloud Storage

Authored by NetApp

Cloud File Sharing

Authored by NetApp

Cloud Storage Security

Authored by Perception Point 

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager