Cloud October 25, 2018

The state of the cloud and its future

Jonathan De Moor

Backend Competence Lead

The cloud has been around for more than 10 years and it is still going strong. First coined by Amazon, today’s three biggest cloud providers are undoubtedly Google (GCP), Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. At this point, almost everything in our digital landscape is connected to one of those cloud providers in one way or another. Gartner research predicts that by 2025, 80% of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centre, versus 10% today. Of course, there will always be use cases for sticking to a private cloud model for security reasons (in the financial or medical industry, for instance). The shift to the cloud hasn’t been an overnight change, but rather an evolutionary shift in thinking about how we deliver services to our customers.

Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of compute power, database storage, applications, and other IT resources through a cloud services platform via the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.​

Hybrid strategy

We can divide the cloud landscape into three main categories: private cloud, hybrid cloud, and public cloud. Public cloud is possibly the simplest of those three, as resources are owned and managed by a third-party cloud provider and distributed over the internet. This results in lower costs, less maintenance, planetary scale and resilient applications. Private clouds are similar to the public cloud in what they provide, except that the resources (such as servers and storage) are dedicated to a single organization with private access. It provides more control over security, data privacy and compliance.

The third option, the hybrid cloud, is often called the best of both worlds. it combines the public and private cloud. Hybrid architectures are a necessary part of cloud adoption as they allow you to migrate gradually to the public cloud. They offer the best of both worlds, providing all the benefits of flexible computing, scalability and cost savings with the lowest possible risk of data exposure.

Just like wireless internet has wires somewhere, serverless architectures still have servers somewhere.

Serverless architectures are on the rise

Serverless is currently a hot trend in the cloud architecture world and companies are beginning to see the value of Serverless architectures. A prime example of a serverless service is cloud functions, or what we call a Function-as-a-Service (FaaS). These are a member of the serverless comput- ing family. Does this mean that you can now run code without servers? Not exactly: serverless computing still requires servers. What serverless really means is that as a developer, you can write and deploy code without the hassle of managing the underlying infrastructure.

Serverless means almost 100% resource utilization. It is very transparent in terms of costs, since you only pay when your code is running. Serverless infrastructures automatically scale your application.

Instead of running an over-provisioned server infrastructure, you are just running a piece of code or a function. The serverless computing service takes your functions as input, performs logic, returns your output, and then shuts down. What is more, you are only billed for the resources used during the execution of those functions.

Of course, you shouldn’t replace every traditional architecture with cloud functions and there will always be arguments for not implementing them. it really helps to start from a microservice mindset before implementing cloud functions in your current system.

Kubernetes is eating the container world

Containers are no longer a niche technology: according to Datadog, nearly a quarter of companies have adopted Docker.

Containers are the tools used to organize and develop microservices. Think of a container as a package of software, including everything it needs to run, which enables developers to manage code in a consistent, isolated way. In a microservice architecture, applications are broken down into small, independently versioned, scalable services. They are here to stay: this is a paradigm shift we have been seeing in the last couple of years that is not going anywhere. We have to embrace it if we want to keep innovating.

The most popularly used container solution is Docker. It is lightweight, portable, standardized, efficient, and open sourced, which means that developers can use it without having to worry about vendor lock-in. All three cloud providers we mentioned earlier (GCP, AWS and Azure) have very good support for containers.

Separate containers lead to the need for container orchestration. Kuber- netes (K8S) is now the fastest-growing automated container orchestration technology and the first Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project. It is an open-source container orchestration system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

Today, a reported 54% of Fortune 100 businesses use Kubernetes

The CNCF is an open source software foundation dedicated to making cloud-native computing universal and sustainable.

In August, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation received a $9 million cloud credit grant from Google Cloud to fund Kubernetes development and empower the community. With this move, CNCF and Kubernetes community members will take ownership of all day-to-day Kubernetes project operations.

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