In an effort to bolster its own cloud service business, Google has signed on as a corporate sponsor of the OpenStack Foundation, on Thursday announcing plans to help the open source cloud architecture project better integrate Linux containers and Google’s container-management system Kubernetes.
Google’s move is a significant sign of support for OpenStack, which has rapidly gained traction as a framework for both enterprise private clouds and public cloud services. It may also signal the rising tide of containers, a lightweight alternative to virtual machines (VMs) that Google developers helped pioneer nearly a decade ago.
Google, long a containerizer of its own apps (think Gmail and YouTube), has recently stepped up its public evangelism for containers. Last year the company open sourced Kubernetes, a management system for Docker containers based on Google’s own internal “Borg” system.
In revealing the long-proprietary technology, Google hopes to bolster its growing public cloud business by encouraging the Docker format and Kubernetes orchestration, which could make it easier to move containerized applications between private clouds and Google’s public cloud — an approach known as hybrid cloud.
“Few enterprises can move their entire infrastructure to the public cloud,” Google product manager Craig McLuckie writes in a company blog post. “For most, hybrid deployments will be the norm, and OpenStack is emerging as a standard for the on-premises component of these deployments.”
In an effort to gain traction for Kubernetes in OpenStack deployments, Google plans to focus on the OpenStack Magnum project, which is devoted to container orchestration. It’s an infrastructure-down approach to adoption that stands in neat contrast with Docker Inc.’s developer-up strategy, which hopes to win customers over by wooing application developers first.
Though there’s debate over whether containers will ultimately supplement or supplant VMs, the technology is rapidly breaking out of the rarefied realm of hyperscales such as Google and Facebook and finding advocates in regular enterprises.
“OpenStack is and has been for a while the leading choice for building private clouds based on VMs,” says Joseph Jacks, vice president of technology strategy at Kismatic, an enterprise support firm for Kubernetes. “We can expect that Google will be investing in making Kubernetes the leading [container management service] on top of OpenStack.”
Kubernetes will inherit valuable added functionality from running on OpenStack, according to Jacks, including multi-tenancy and snapshots, a feature that creates new images from a running instance.
“OpenStack,” he adds, “represents a perfect layer for Kubernetes to sit on top of.”