The Future Face of Cloud Native Computing
As the business world dashes toward a new kind of computing architecture, what will a serverless future look like? What tools will be most valuable, and who stands to gain the most in the shift?
A Container for the Future
In the evolution of computing, we are on the precipice of what many call The Fourth Wave. At the outset computers utilized a mainframe, then moved to client-server computing architectures in the 1990s. Third came server virtualization, as we have seen for the last decade of flourishing VMware. Now, digital transformation is driving the adoption of a new application development and deployment approach: cloud native, a burgeoning IT revolution. This ultra-modern IT approach is enabled by powerful new technology known as containers, an approach to operating system virtualization where applications can move easily from developer to testing to production. Perhaps more importantly, containers move seamlessly from machine to cloud, a major upgrade over current virtual machine setups. As we will see, the ramifications of cloud native computing in the form of container-based applications are significant.
Enterprises are now beginning to adopt cloud native technologies to replace legacy or monolithic architectures with quicker, steadier, and lighter containerized applications. Today, less than 30% of global enterprises employ containerized applications, but by 2022 that number is estimated to be over 75%. The move to containers is a step toward application-centric architecture based on a cloud native framework that will eventually replace server-centric architecture altogether. Cloud native approaches like containerization and fully serverless computing empowers faster application development, deployment, and mobility – translating to vast improvements in automation, efficiency, and overall infrastructure costs.
Kubernetes at the Crossroads
At the heart of containerization adoption is Kubernetes, originally designed by Google and then donated to be used as an open-sourced system for the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Although only six years old, Kubernetes is far and away the most popular container management software with a market share around 80%, and in use by over 10,000 global enterprises. As Kubernetes is synonymous with the cloud native standard, these adoption numbers are set to grow exponentially.
The sudden prominence of Kubernetes created the emergence of a dynamic vendor network, seemingly overnight. For instance, big players like IBM – with their Red Hat OpenShift platform – have started to paddle into cloud native waters to work alongside Kubernetes in advancing the power of cloud native applications toward a serverless future. In addition, over 100 start-up companies stand poised to target the Kubernetes communities in addressing pain points and opportunities for improvement. Kubernetes, after all, exists as a highly complex environment where application performance, data storage, service delivery, and security can all be viewed as problems to be treated by new digital infrastructure organizations.
Managed Service Providers on Deck
Perhaps those with the most to benefit from the rise of Kubernetes as cloud native harbinger are managed service providers (MSPs). One significant opening for MSPs lies in the increasing importance of developer-centric tools (DevOps), as the cloud native movement continues to usher in a new era of DevOps for next-generation cloud architectures like those utilizing containers. Generally speaking, a DevOp shortens a development lifecycle by updating software in hours or days instead of weeks or months. By combining software development with IT operations, DevOps represent a more efficient way to build, test, monitor, deploy, and update software. As container adoption grows, traditional software development tools find themselves too slow and inefficient. Operations teams continue to turn toward DevOp tools in an effort to tighten their integration with development teams, and – given the mission critical nature of many enterprise application environments – may be putting themselves at risk if they don’t. For MSPs, offering DevOps services means proving a crucial solution in cloud native environments, and the opportunity to play an essential role as a principal IT provider for enterprises moving to cloud-based deployments. MSPs can also aid larger service providers by offering DevOps services around Kubernetes as a value-add for the many enterprises seeking those solutions. Much like the Hitachi acquisition of REAN, expect the MSP consolidation around cloud native technologies to accelerate in coming years.