Understanding Distributed Cloud Architecture: Differences Between Vendors

3 min read

Part two of two on an exploration of distributed cloud architecture.

Having covered how distributed cloud architecture addresses some basic challenges of public cloud in part one, let’s discuss how top distributed cloud vendors differ.

The following two chief variations distinguish between the offerings:

  • Infrastructure choices in some of their architectures can cause vendor lock-in.
  • A lack of availability of applications and services can limit what you can perform.

The infrastructure choices break down into four basic categories by leading vendors.

Buy their infrastructure

AWS requires you to buy their hardware appliance to build a public cloud. That vendor creates a mini-public cloud by installing and powering a rack on-premises with networking capabilities. The rack from AWS resembles a data center.

Obey their guidelines

Microsoft Azure forces you to follow a large, complex document that’s very strict in indicating what hardware you must have to be compatible. A set of requirements has to be fulfilled, such as meeting exactly what the storage networking needs to be.

Limit your choices

Google Anthos claims that it’s got a flexible approach of working on client infrastructure. In fact, it’s too focused on using Kubernetes and doesn’t offer a rich set of managed Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) from Google Cloud that you would expect to be able to access.

Enjoy complete flexibility

IBM Cloud Satellite is a distributed cloud offering that brings IBM Cloud services like the managed Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud to the infrastructure of your choice. Unlike other distributed cloud vendors, IBM Cloud Satellite can run on your own infrastructure or on any third-party cloud. If you want an appliance to build a cloud automatically, we can sell that to you. Our distributed cloud can run on a data center colocation or on a third-party edge networking environment.

The other differentiator: More variety

Our vision for distributed cloud is to allow the entire IBM public cloud catalog to be run in a distributed cloud location. IBM Cloud Satellite Locations already support a number of PaaS services from the IBM Cloud catalog, such as our managed Red Hat OpenShift service, IBM Cloud Databases, IBM Watson Studio and IBM Watson Machine Learning. These offerings are managed services — the same IBM Cloud services with IBM Cloud support doing all security, reliability and engineering. More services will continue to be added until we reach our vision.

Additionally, IBM Satellite Locations support all IBM Cloud Pak® solutions, the software section of the IBM Cloud catalog and Red Hat Marketplace.

Compare that approach with Google’s distributed cloud, where there are software packages you must install and manage. As for other major distributed cloud vendors, Microsoft Azure offers Kubernetes, virtual machines and databases, but not their other set of PaaS services. AWS has fixed hardware appliances you have to buy to get a more flexible set of services, including their virtual machines, containerization, Kubernetes and more.

Another key IBM distinction: Built on Kubernetes

As IBM Cloud is built on top of Kubernetes, you get the following additional advantages that can help when using IBM Cloud Satellite:

  • Our PaaS services are almost entirely based on open source projects.
  • All of our services are containerized and run on Kubernetes.

The first advantage allows us to manage all instances of those PaaS services at scale. Those services are all best-of-breed open source solutions.

By being containerized and running on Kubernetes, we can more easily migrate these services to run on other IBM Cloud regions that we create and potentially do the same on IBM Cloud Satellite. We can basically lift the same Kubernetes configurations and operations templates and run them on containers and a Kubernetes system running in a distributed cloud location.

Other vendors use proprietary solutions that build their services with varying technologies that are not always based on Kubernetes. Some have their own containerization approach or custom software approach. That setup makes it difficult for the vendors to move those services somewhere else in cloud regions.

Get started with IBM Cloud Satellite

Our advantages makes it easier for us to bring you IBM Cloud Satellite and have the PaaS services operate the same way in that distributed cloud as they run in public cloud. Combining that aspect with the variety and flexibility IBM Cloud Satellite has over its competitors, we believe that we should be your top choice when selecting a distributed cloud vendor.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Satellite and join the ongoing beta.

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