A tour of cloud computing: “It’s very important for technology to be cloud-compatible, if not cloud-native”
Cloud computing is worth exploring; this is what we think but of course, we’re no experts. Therefore, we decided to invite 12 experts to weigh in on the present and future of cloud computing. Our first guest is Abby Kearns, Executive Director of Cloud Foundry Foundation.
Cloud computing is worth exploring
In last year’s JAXenter Technology Trends Survey, we asked readers about their interest in different technologies and, according to the results, the cloud was a very relevant topic for developers. As you can see in the figure below, cloud computing was the runner-up in the “General IT topics” section, after software architecture.
If you want to read more about respondents’ favorite and least favorite cloud platforms, have a look at the results. Sure, cloud computing was already very popular but these results put things into perspective for us; in 2017, respondents were more interested in cloud computing than in microservices, DevOps, machine learning, blockchain and the list goes on. That may or may not still be the case, but these results opened our appetite for everything cloud-related.
Despite cloud computing’s popularity, there are still a lot of unknowns, misunderstandings and gaps. For example, earlier this year, we learned from Sumo Logic’s 2018 Global Security Trends in the Cloud report that almost half of their respondents reported that current tools do not work in the cloud. Furthermore, a whopping 97% out of the 300+ respondents felt that they lacked the tools for proper cloud security. Read more about the report here.
The bottom line is that cloud computing is worth exploring and the benefits definitely outweigh the risks. This is what we think but of course, we’re no experts. Therefore, we decided to invite 12 experts to weigh in on the present and future of cloud computing.
A tour of cloud computing interview series will be published twice a week. Our first guest is Abby Kearns, Executive Director of Cloud Foundry Foundation.
JAXenter: Everything is in the cloud these days, including our precious data. How can developers maintain an appropriate level of security in an increasingly insecure landscape?
Abby Kearns: Security must always be a top priority during development. There has been a perception in the marketplace that the public cloud is less secure than on-prem infrastructure, but we now know that is not the case. The dominant public cloud providers have demonstrated that they take security very seriously, and have built in layers of security that ensure your data is secure at all times. Companies who use continuous integration and continuous delivery employ automated checks and testing that ensure potential weaknesses are caught before code makes it into production. This adds a security layer that can easily get missed in traditional development environments.
JAXenter: Has GDPR affected the way you or your organization does things? How?
Abby Kearns: GDPR effects every organization that gathers data on residents or visitors within the European Union. Cloud Foundry Foundation has been actively ensuring that we are compliant. While Cloud Foundry technologies are in use in some of the most secure computing environments in the world, the open source projects themselves are not directly impacted by GDPR.
JAXenter: What benefits does a cloud-based infrastructure bring? What are the drawbacks?
The only drawback is that in order for applications to take advantage of all of this automation, they need to be written in a cloud-native way.
Abby Kearns: A cloud-based infrastructure enables businesses to take advantage of all the benefits the cloud can bring – which means allowing applications to be more agile, scale quickly, be resilient, and be available to customers and employees wherever there is internet. The only drawback is that in order for applications to take advantage of all of this automation, they need to be written in a cloud-native way – meaning they should be written in a way that does not require stateful connections to specific infrastructure.
This also assumes that organizations are prepared for cloud-native architectures, and the freedom and scale that can follow, including leveraging continuous delivery methodologies to frequently iterate and deploy applications.
JAXenter: What is your favorite cloud-based tool, service, or platform to use and why?
Abby Kearns: Obviously, Cloud Foundry is my favorite Platform as a Service (PaaS). Honestly, it would be my favorite even if I did not lead the Cloud Foundry Foundation, its open source software home. It continues to offer organizations the opportunity to automate as much of the application deployment and management process as possible, making it easy for developers to get their code into production as quickly as possible, while also making it simple for operators to manage and scale the platform and applications. As for other tools, there are just so many excellent tools and services that make it easier for organizations to test, extend, or build applications out there, that I don’t know if I can choose just one or two.
JAXenter: Is Kubernetes becoming central to cloud adoption?
Abby Kearns: Kubernetes is one of many cloud-native technologies that have become essential in a business’ cloud journey. As our recent research shows, more than a third of IT decision makers report using a combination of containers, PaaS and serverless together. This multi-platform approach indicates substantial reliance on various technologies, of which Kubernetes is most assuredly one, to form a coherent and effective strategy to take advantage of the cloud, both public and private.
JAXenter: Jakarta EE has recently taken the cloud-native Java path. How important is it for a technology to be relevant to today’s cloud-first world?
Abby Kearns: It’s very important for technology to be cloud-compatible, if not cloud-native. Right now, we see many companies operating in a multi-cloud environment – with some workloads running on infrastructure on-premises, and some running on a public cloud. However, we are also seeing more companies running on multiple platforms. Leveraging a variety of technologies to address the varying needs of different application workloads. I expect that we will only see more of this in the future, so new application workloads developed today should plan to be at least cloud-ready, if not cloud-native.
JAXenter: How important is it for a technology to be cloud-neutral?
Abby Kearns: This could also be called “multi-cloud”, and operating across multiple clouds provides you flexibility. The more flexibility you have, the better you can leverage the right cloud for your particular business needs. Technology that is multi-cloud gives companies more control over infrastructure choices, and avoids lock-in.
It’s kind of like the difference between brand-based auto parts that can only be used in a particular brand of vehicle, versus generic auto parts that can be used in any vehicle. If your technology offers the flexibility to work with any cloud, well, guess what? It’s more than likely that companies will keep your technology as they advance and evolve their cloud usage.
New application workloads developed today should plan to be at least cloud-ready, if not cloud-native.
JAXenter: If cloud technology wants to continue to grow, tools should grow and adapt as well. What are the most mature tools right now?
Abby Kearns: Cloud Foundry technologies and all of the Application Runtime distributions are very mature in their development. Major public cloud providers like Amazon, Alibaba, Google, and Microsoft now offer essential tools for application workloads to run and scale in the cloud. Containers have matured and usage of them has crossed the chasm, with more companies now using or evaluating containers than not. While interest in serverless is being evaluated by more and more companies, it is still early days in terms of broad usage.
JAXenter: How can we capture the multi-cloud opportunity? What are the roadblocks to multi-cloud success?
Abby Kearns: Most organizations are already using a multi-cloud approach to application development and database processing. Obviously, if you’re going to use multiple clouds, a PaaS like Cloud Foundry provides an easy and consistent way to deploy and manage application workloads across any cloud. Allowing you the flexibility to move to the public or private cloud that best suit your needs and business objectives.
JAXenter: What do you think of serverless? Is it a “revolution of the cloud,” as Maciej Winnicki, Principal Software Engineer at Serverless Inc. told us last year?
Abby Kearns: According to our most recent research, 46 percent of IT decision makers are using or evaluating serverless computing. Serverless does not mean there are no servers; rather, it means developers don’t have to think about the servers and can focus on creating small, iterative releases.
While I don’t necessarily see it as a revolution, I do think serverless offers a great way to think about application development, and can help organizations focus on small applications that better enable their business. The benefit of a full event-driven model (which is functionally what serverless means) is already finding its way into enterprises as “glue code”. With time, this will end up being aligned with specific types of applications in a multi-platform environment.