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Cloud computing interview series: Meet Shiven Ramji, VP of Product at DigitalOcean

A tour of cloud computing: “The next step is to make integrations between cloud services as easy as possible”

Gabriela Motroc
cloud computing
© Shutterstock / Timashov Sergiy

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 next guest is Shiven Ramji, VP of Product at DigitalOcean.

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.

JAXenter Technology Trends Survey 2017: Results

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 will be published twice a week. 

Here are the interviews published so far

  • Abby Kearns: “It’s very important for technology to be cloud-compatible, if not cloud-native”
  • Oleg Chunikhin & Terry Shea:“Serverless is another step towards improving productivity, especially in DevOps and operations”
  • Peter Meulbroek:“Cloud-neutral adds a large amount of complexity and risk to a migration, without really solving the issue”
  • Ross Kukulinski:“Observability is an essential component when successfully operating software in the cloud”
  • Carlos Sanchez:“A seamless multi-cloud experience is currently practically impossible”
  • Ben Newton:“Kubernetes is crucial for widespread multi-cloud adoption”

Our next guest is Shiven Ramji, VP of Product at DigitalOcean.

 

JAXenter: What benefits does a cloud-based infrastructure bring? What are the drawbacks?

Shiven Ramji: It’s important to make it as easy as possible for developers to manage and apply security rules across their entire cloud infrastructure from one central location. While we encourage developers to be mindful of best practices for security from their end, it’s also up to cloud providers to take on as much of the legwork as possible – they must build and deliver a robust security interface that is easy to manage so developers can spend their time focusing on building great applications.

JAXenter: Has GDPR affected the way you or your organization does things? 

Shiven Ramji: While we believe the GDPR regulation is a major step forward in protecting the fundamental right of privacy for European citizens, we also know that it can be complicated for customers to understand. As part of our Q1 Currents developer survey, we asked several thousand developers ahead of the in-effect date and found that more than a third of developers were still unsure if their teams or companies were preparing for the regulation. Though a majority of developers based in the UK were actively working on GDPR compliance at the time, developers based outside of the EU were still significantly unsure whether the regulation would impact their work.

While Kubernetes has effectively “won” the container space within the enterprise, other solution providers may still be the right fit for individual developers or smaller teams depending on their needs.

In light of this, we’ve taken several key steps to ensure our customers are well-equipped to comply with the GDPR. In addition to updating our own Data Processing Agreement and following all of the regulatory steps to become GDPR compliant, we’ve added an FAQ to our website outlining what GDPR is, and how it affects the developers who use our services.

JAXenter: What benefits does a cloud-based infrastructure bring? What are the drawbacks?

Shiven Ramji: Cloud infrastructure is often cheaper than legacy data centers, enables more agile development and also offers performance benefits when actually running applications. The cloud provides an added level of flexibility with your entire technology stack that legacy infrastructure just does not provide, and if you save money on top of that, it’s a major value proposition.

As with any technology, there are some drawbacks to the cloud, especially if you move off-premises without a complete understanding of your goals and infrastructure needs. For enterprises, migrating to the cloud is often a very challenging prospect, which involves a lot of moving parts. For SMBs and developers, pricing can be misleading and sometimes you end up paying for more resources than you actually need. These issues, however, can be solved or at least minimized – firms should assess the pricing structure of potential providers and there is a lot of middleware now that makes cloud migration easier.

JAXenter: What is your favorite cloud-based tool, service, or platform to use and why?

Shiven Ramji: Personally, my favorite cloud tools at the moment are services that make hosting website front-ends very easy. Netlify and Zeit have built some neat tools for specific developers and use cases, and I also like VS Code because it has powerful features with little configuration.

SEE ALSO: Cloudy with a chance of IncludeOS: “We want to provide an operating system for systems that only do one thing”

JAXenter: Is Kubernetes becoming central to cloud adoption?

Shiven Ramji: Containers, in general, are becoming a go-to tool for developers. Our latest survey of the developer community found that nearly half (49 percent) of developers are already using containers, and 78 percent of developers who aren’t, plan to do so sometime in the future.

Kubernetes is emerging as the most popular container orchestrator within the developer community –42 percent of our survey respondents said they use the platform. Among our own customer base, we saw such strong interest in Kubernetes that we added a managed Kubernetes offering to our product suite – DigitalOcean Kubernetes (now in early access), which allows users to quickly and easily deploy, manage and secure their clusters.

However, Kubernetes is not the only container offering out there. According to our survey, the second most popular platform according to respondents is Docker Swarm. While Kubernetes has effectively “won” the container space within the enterprise, other solution providers may still be the right fit for individual developers or smaller teams depending on their needs.

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?

Shiven Ramji: Modern applications are being architected for the web and mobile world from day one. This highlights the importance of being relevant in a cloud-native/cloud-first world. There is constant innovation and fragmentation in the tools and services used to build these cloud-native services, so being involved in cloud-native communities is a good thing.

JAXenter: How important is it for a technology to be cloud-neutral? What do you think of the Fn project?

Shiven Ramji: We’re big supporters of open source, which is why we incorporate several of these languages in our own stack. It allows developers to use the various services that help them most, without having to worry about vendor lock-in. Every October, we also put on Hacktoberfest, a month-long celebration of open source software where we reward coders of all levels for contributing to open source projects.

Part of the reason we’re so supportive of open source and cloud-neutral technologies is that our customers and the developer community prefer them in most cases. In our March survey, half of all developers listed vendor lock-in as the primary roadblock to open source software adoption. There are a few open source serverless projects that are interesting at the moment and serverless is still in its early adoption phases. The Fn project is interesting and so are the other open source frameworks and because we are open source friendly you’ll be able to run them on our platform.

In our March survey, half of all developers listed vendor lock-in as the primary roadblock to open source software adoption.

JAXenter: If cloud technology wants to continue to grow, tools should grow and adapt as well. What are the most mature tools right now?

Shiven Ramji: In general, all of the tooling around consuming cloud primitives such as Compute, Network and Storage is fairly mature. There have been a lot of developments obviously in Container orchestration space and the various CNCF projects around microservices architectures. Those tools need to graduate and evolve for further adoption.

JAXenter: How can we capture the multi-cloud opportunity? What are the roadblocks to multi-cloud success?

Shiven Ramji: Companies are slowly starting to accept that most of their customers will not exclusively use their services. I think we’re seeing that come to fruition –you’re even seeing the tech giants release products and services that make it easier to extend applications across different clouds.

The biggest roadblock in the past was the idea that you could simply lock a customer into your product line and that would satisfy them. Now that we’re overcoming that line of thinking, the next step is to make integrations between cloud services as easy as possible and the companies that do will see more growth.

SEE ALSO: Does serverless really have a dominant position in the IT landscape?

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?

Shiven Ramji: I think it’s still too early to tell on serverless computing. While I believe there is a lot of potential with the technology, our last 2017 developer survey found that only half of developers feel they have a strong understanding of serverless. There is a strong appetite among the half that don’t understand serverless to learn more about the technology, with 81 percent stating they plan to do further research on it in the future.

Serverless is a great solution for specific workloads and architectures but the tooling and ecosystem around it are still being developed. Our customers will adopt these architectures where a Serverless solution meets their needs.

Thank you!

 

Application developers have entered a new era with the advent of cloud technology. If you want to meet the movers and shakers in the world of cloud computing, don’t miss JAX London, a four-day conference taking place October 8-11, 2018.

    DevOpsCon Whitepaper 2018

    Free: BRAND NEW DevOps Whitepaper 2018

    Learn about Containers,Continuous Delivery, DevOps Culture, Cloud Platforms & Security with articles by experts like Michiel Rook, Christoph Engelbert, Scott Sanders and many more.

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Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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