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Google's Stackdriver taps into growing multicloud trend

A clear trend has emerged around public cloud adoption in the enterprise: organizations increasingly employ a mix of different cloud services, rather than go all in with one. As that movement continues, cloud providers who support integration with platforms outside their own – and especially with public cloud titan Amazon Web Services – have the most to gain.

Google seems to have that very thought in mind with the recent rollout of its Stackdriver monitoring tool.

Stackdriver, originally built for Amazon Web Services (AWS) but bought by Google in 2014, became generally available this month, providing monitoring, alerting and a number of other capabilities for Google Cloud Platform. Most notably, though, it hasn’t shaken its AWS cloud roots.

Google’s continued support for AWS shouldn’t come as a big surprise for legacy Stackdriver users, said Dan Belcher, product manager for Google Cloud Platform and co-founder of Stackdriver. His team has attempted for the past two years to assuage any customer concerns about AWS support falling by the wayside.

“[Customers were] looking for assurances that, at the time, we were going to continue to invest in support for Amazon Web Services,” Belcher said. “And I think we have addressed those in many ways.”

Mark Annati, VP of IT at Extreme Reach, an advertising firm in Needham, Mass., is a Stackdriver user since 2013 and still uses the tool to monitor his company’s cloud deployment, which spans Google, AWS and Azure. He said his company is still evaluating the full impact of the Stackdriver tool being migrated onto Google’s internal infrastructure, but so far it appears to be business as usual.

And, considering his need for AWS monitoring support, that’s a relief.

“I have had no indication from Stackdriver that they would stop monitoring AWS,” Annati said. “If they did, that would cause us significant pain.”

There are a few changes, however, for legacy Stackdriver users post-acquisition. Now that Stackdriver is hosted on Google’s own infrastructure, for example, users need a Google cloud account to access the tool, and to manage user access and billing. In addition, a few features that existed in the tool pre-acquisition — such as chart annotations, on-premises server monitoring and integration with AWS CloudTrail — are unsupported, at least for now, as part of the migration to Google.

Stackdriver pricing options are slightly different, depending on whether you use the tool exclusively for Google, or for both Google and AWS. All Google Cloud Platform (GCP) users, for example, have access to a free Basic tier and a Premium tier, while users who require the AWS integration only have access to the Premium tier. That higher-level tier costs $8 per monitored cloud resource per month and, in addition to the AWS support, offers more advanced monitoring, as well as a larger allotment for log data.

In general, since the Google acquisition, Stackdriver’s feature set has expanded beyond the tool’s traditional monitoring features, such as alerts and dashboards, to now offer logging, error reporting and debugging tools to both AWS and Google users, Belcher said.

“As an AWS-only customer, your experience using Stackdriver is just as good,” he said.

Moving to a multicloud world

This cross-platform support – particularly for market leader AWS, whose public cloud revenue climbed 55% percent year-over-year in the third quarter, totaling over $3 billion — is going to become table stakes for cloud providers, explained Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

“When you are offering a tool that is great for your platform, you’d better support AWS,” Bartoletti said. “What Google recognizes is that it would be stupid to say, ‘We’re going to release a management tool that is only good for our platform.'”

Google stands to gain from this AWS integration in other ways, too. For example, Stackdriver may eventually prompt more AWS users to evaluate Google’s homegrown data analytics tools, such as BigQuery, as a supplement to Stackdriver itself, Bartoletti said.

“It lets Google show off what else it has to offer,” he said.

While he didn’t offer any specifics, Belcher said Google will consider broadening Stackdriver to support other cloud platforms, such as Azure, and potentially on-premises deployments as well.

“There are more than enough customers on AWS and GCP that are running in some hybrid mode with some unsupported platform, so you can imagine we get requests every day to extend the support,” he said.

Annati, for one, would welcome the move.

“It would be great if Stackdriver covered it all,” he said. “That would be an easy decision for us.”

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