Google Cloud's Open Source Partnership Program: 5 Things To Know

Open Game

Google has long been a driver of open source advances, gifting to the world such game-changing technologies as Kubernetes, TensorFlow, Chromium and Istio.

But on Tuesday, the internet giant's cloud division introduced a partnership program that will make other developers of popular open source technologies first-class citizens in its cloud ecosystem.

The open source partnerships program will be "elevating the experience of these services on our platform," said Manvinder Singh, Google's head of infrastructure partnerships.

The partner solutions will come online in the coming months.

The program has "a lot of clarity from Google," Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData, one of the seven inaugural partners participating in the program, told CRN.

The strategy of engaging with open source vendors that lead their categories and building a platform around those solutions is "not like anything we've seen before from anyone else," Kaplan said.

The First Seven

The seven inaugural ISVs participating in Google's open source partnerships program all offer solutions at the forefront of their categories.

They are Confluent, an event streaming platform from the founders of the Kafka project; MongoDB, a leading NoSQL document-oriented database; Elastic, a search technology popular with developers; Neo4j, a popular database for graphical analysis and data visualization; Redis Labs, an in-memory managed database; InfluxData, a leading time series database; and DataStax, a data management system built on Cassandra.

That all the ISVs included in the launch of Google's open source program offer data-oriented technologies is no accident, said Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData.

"You start with the notion that data has gravity," Kaplan said.

For Google, getting the leading open source data vendors to run their cloud services on its platform enhances the opportunity to add value to customers with in-house technologies like machine learning, analytics and data cleansing.

And Thomas Kurian (pictured), the new Google Cloud CEO, understands this intuitively from his prior experiences at Oracle, Kaplan said.

"To me, it feels like a very sound strategy," Kaplan said. "Open source increasingly in the database world dominates. To get the open source folks to run their services on Google Cloud creates a longer-term competitive advantage."

A Collaborative Approach

Google's strategy for delivering open source solutions is to form mutually beneficial partnerships, said Manvinder Singh, Google's head of infrastructure partnerships.

"Unlike other cloud providers, we are working collaboratively to bring partners into the market, as opposed to taking their technology and offering it as our own service," Singh said.

That's not just a fuzzy, theoretical distinction to many ISVs—especially not for two of the seven vendors that have joined Google's new program.

Just a few weeks ago, top cloud provider Amazon Web Services introduced its own "flavor" of search solution Elasticsearch, creating its own code library and damaging the prospects of Elastic, the ISV that maintains that open source project.

Earlier this year, AWS did something similar with MongoDB after a licensing dispute.

Both companies only recently went public, and both took hits to their stock.

Those kinds of moves have created a lot of tension between open source vendors who make big investments in building out their platforms and cloud providers, said Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData.

"To have cloud providers just take them, host them, and dominate the space around them, it really cuts off the growth of these companies," Kaplan said.

"There's a big debate about how to protect your intellectual property from Amazon. The same debate doesn't exist around Google," he added.

First-Class Citizens

The seven inaugural partners participating in Google's new program, and the many more that are likely to join later, will have first-class status in the Google Cloud ecosystem, said Manvinder Singh, Google's head of infrastructure partnerships.

That means customers consuming their solutions will have an experience just like they have with native Google services, Singh said.

"This really makes it seamless," Singh said, adding the model was based on feedback from developers.

"We've always seen our friends in the open-source community as equal collaborators, and not simply a resource to be mined," blogged Chris DiBona, Google's director for open source, and Kevin Ichhpurani, vice president for global partner ecosystem.

"With that in mind, we’ll be offering managed services operated by these partners that are tightly integrated into Google Cloud Platform (GCP), providing a seamless user experience across management, billing and support," DiBona and Ichhpurani said.

That strategy makes it easier for Google's enterprise customers to build on open source technologies, and it realizes Google's commitment to support open source communities, they said.

Fully Managed Solutions

Technologies from open source partners participating in the new program will come managed by Google and integrated with native Google services.

"We'll be offering fully managed services tightly integrated into Google Cloud Platform," said Manvinder Singh, Google's head of infrastructure partnerships.

Those integrations will develop in areas like identity and access management, monitoring services like Google Stackdriver, security validations, and through "strong collaboration on the go-to-market side," Singh said.

Google will make every effort to optimize performance and reduce latency between the service and application and to deliver access through a single user interface. Google Cloud customers will be able to provision and manage the services directly from Google Cloud Console.

Unified Support And Billing

The open source solutions available through Google's new partnership program will be delivered to customers with unified support and billing.

Enterprises will get one invoice from Google Cloud that includes partner services and counts toward overall Google Cloud spends and commitments.

Google will also offer technical support for most of the participating partners, allowing management of log and support tickets from a single window.

The billing component is "like any really good distribution relationship," said Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData.

Participating ISVs like InfluxData specialize in building cloud-native solutions, so there's not much that Google must do to make their products run effectively on its cloud platform, Kaplan said.

But billing and support truly adds value, he said.

"Their sales people are incented to sell our stuff. They support it, they bill us, and yet we keep the product and service up and running," Kaplan said. "If you have a partner willing to do it, and it's more convenient to the customer, you really want to support that."