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Cloud, Google Cloud Platform,

Migrate for Anthos : Application Modernization and Migration



Over the years, GCP (Google Cloud Platform) has introduced a plethora of new services, but the US-based cloud giant is still mainly known for two products: Kubernetes and AI. As you may know, since 2003 Google has been an early adopter of containerized infrastructure for their own internal workloads. They developed a container orchestration tool, Borg, later making it open-source and renaming Kubernetes. Today it is the most known container orchestration tool in the industry.

Google brings their years of expertise in managing millions of containers for their own workload and introduced them as a service in 2014 in the form of the GKE (Google Kubernetes Engine). GKE is the best Kubernetes platform in the industry. Google was the first cloud vendor to provide a managed Kubernetes service. GKE is even included in their enterprise strategy, making them a differentiator among their rivals.

In 2018 Google brought a new service, Anthos. A hybrid multi-cloud platform based on GKE which helps to extend Google cloud services to on-premise and other clouds. Anthos is not a single product, but rather an umbrella covering multiple services. Migrate for Anthos is a migration tool under this umbrella that allows direct migration of virtual machines (VMs) into containers running on GKE.

Enterprises all over the world are trying to modernize their legacy monolithic applications into microservices and containers to bring better performance, agility and cost savings. This takes barely two lines to cover yet it is not so simple when it comes to a real scenario. It needs a lot of time and manual intervention in terms of planning, assessment, code changes, etc. By the introduction of Migrate for Anthos, GCP was able to solve some of these problems and make the enterprise cloud adoption much easier.

There are many cloud migration tools available in the market and most of them tackle the VM-to-VM migration scenario. Where other cloud providers suggest the first step towards cloud adoption to be lift and shift to VMs in the cloud, GCP takes a different approach. Migrate for Anthos is a one of a kind solution to automate the process of VM-to-container migrations and make life easier for cloud engineers and developers.

How Migrate for Anthos works

Migrate for Anthos works on top of Anthos and uses GKE as the containerization platform. It converts VMs to containers running in GKE. Where you see “system container” you might think it is still the monolithic approach and not microservices adoption. What is the benefit then? Even though it is monolithic, it takes advantage of portability, better packaging and utilizes the flexibility of the cloud. On top of that, the workload is in the cloud in a containerized environment, allowing to further break down the application into microservices as a roadmap.


The diagram above shows a full-fledged VM migrated into a container using Migrate for Anthos. After the migration, many of the VM components are now managed by GKE. Even though it is a system container, it will increase performance and improve management.

There are prerequisites to be fulfilled before using Migrate for Anthos, like OS (operating system) or VM source platform. Not all workloads are suitable for Migrate for Anthos either. This migration approach is not possible in scenarios like high performance or memory-intensive workloads, software licenses tied to hardware workloads or applications needing a special kernel or hardware.

Migrate for Anthos is a really good product to make enterprise cloud adoption faster and efficient. The future holds more options and use cases of this product for sure.