The biggest trends shaping cloud-native computing

Cloud-native computing has been gaining traction in the last few years. The pace with which cloud computing has evolved in such a short time has been exciting to witness. Things change very quickly in the cloud world. The adoption of cloud services is at an all-time high, fueled by the pandemic and the desperate need to have decentralized workplaces. Most delivery pipelines in organizations now heavily rely on cloud computing. With newer cloud-native platforms and tools, complex use cases can be handled easily. With the arrival of services like 5G and WiFi 6E, the cloud is on its way to becoming a place to host different kinds of data that can be streamed at breakneck speeds. Let’s take a look at the most prominent trends shaping cloud-native computing today.

1. Hybrid cloud infrastructure

One of the most popular and emerging trends in cloud computing has been the hybrid cloud. Cloud may be popular, but most organizations still run the majority of their workloads on-premises. Many organizations just don’t want to venture on the cloud journey due to the sheer amount of effort and time it will require to migrate their massive workloads onto a public cloud. Others are just concerned about the security of critical workloads and data. Organizations believe their data is more secure in their data centers than on a public cloud that could be vulnerable to newer threats. The only other solution for organizations was then to rely on private clouds. However, private clouds have their limits, and setting up a private cloud infrastructure can take a long time — even with the help of experts. Organizations that want to host their workloads on different platforms (public/private clouds and on-premises) would have to deal with infrastructure issues. Inevitably all the different platforms would become siloed and require different teams to manage each of them.

Today, several tools are available for organizations to get the cloud-native experience no matter where their data and workloads reside. Tools like ECS and EKS Anywhere by AWS help organizations create containerized applications without leveraging the public cloud. Teams can build workloads with specific services running on-premises for compliance reasons and others running on a public cloud. These tools bridge the gap between these disparate platforms and bring them onto the same plane — letting organizations manage their workloads and visualize them on a single pane of glass. With these tools, businesses can also build a foundation for future migration and ensure migration doesn’t feel cumbersome. Tools like AWS Application Migration Service empower organizations to lift and shift their applications no matter where they reside to the AWS cloud by automating manual operations. Teams are able to expand their core business functions without having to spend time migrating existing applications.

2. Serverless computing

Developers should be concerned about creating high-quality code quickly, while operators should take care of continuous delivery and infrastructure needs. This, however, can be harder than it seems. The sheer amount of services involved in workloads can make an operator’s job hell and slow down development. Serverless cloud helps to solve this problem by abstracting the technicalities from teams by making infrastructure management easy. Serverless cloud or function-as-a-service abstracts the servers from teams and scales them based on requirements. This means teams don’t have to pay money for a fixed bandwidth or storage, making the cloud experience seamless.

Tools like AWS Proton empower operators by providing well-architected templates to help apply compliance and best practices with ease — letting developers work on their code. This tool allows operators to update services with just one click, making sure infrastructure is always compliant. Tools like AWS App Runner help build apps automatically using source code and container images. It takes care of deployment, security, and scalability without letting operators manually intervene at every step. These tools also efficiently load balance traffic with end-to-end encryption so organizations can get up and running in no time.

Recently, DigitalOcean acquired Nimbella, a serverless startup. Nimbella is built on top of Kubernetes and Apache OpenWhisk, both of which are open source tools. Nimbella helps resolve the operational complexities teams face when developing modern workloads. DigitalOcean plans on expanding its existing portfolio by integrating Nimbella’s serverless capabilities. This example in particular demonstrates the great potential of serverless computing.

3. GitOps

Gitops helps teams collaborate on code changes and infrastructure by leveraging the power of Git repositories. With GitOps, each change is checked by reviewers and allowed to be merged with the main branch automatically to eliminate the risk of infrastructure breakage. In 2020, organizations including Amazon, Azure, Red Hat, Weaveworks, and Github joined forces to draw out principles that organizations could follow to implement a vendor-neutral approach to GitOps — encouraging interoperability among various tools by different vendors. There are currently four principles defined under the OpenGitOps project version 1.0.0.

  1. Declarative
  2. Versioned and immutable
  3. Pulled automatically
  4. Continuously reconciled

These four principles ensure that an organization stays true to the system’s desired state without straying off the path. The GitOps Working Group, formed by the organizations mentioned above, is a Working Group under the CNCF App Delivery SIG and is a community for organizations implementing GitOps. Organizations using GitOps can contribute to the OpenGitOps project to develop better standards for adopting GitOps.

Flux, a CNCF project, helps manage continuous delivery by leveraging a git repository of your choice. You can define the desired state in the repository and Flux automatically applies the desired changes to your system in production. Flux works with Kubernetes tools and integrates with various CI/CD tools to implement GitOps into your workloads without much manual intervention. Flux makes it easy for you to revert to an earlier state quickly using its rollback feature. Flux is currently an incubating CNCF project and was labeled “adopt” on CNCF CI/CD Tech Radar. This is an honor given to only a few special projects that have been tested and proven as reliable and useful by the user community.

4. Supply chain security

Supply chain vulnerability became a hot topic when the infamous SolarWinds hack took place in 2020. Attackers trojanized updates to the popular tool SolarWinds Orion to breach several organizations using that tool, including some federal agencies. The massive scale of this attack became a lesson on how vulnerable supply chains can be and how easily attackers can break into critical workloads and steal confidential data. Today, supply chains across the world are under a lot of stress due to the aftereffects of the pandemic. In such a climate, supply chain security has become even more critical.

Supply chain security requires a multi-faceted approach. It is almost impossible to secure a supply chain manually. Tools like Argon and ChainGaurd help empower organizations by letting them identify vulnerabilities in their workloads at every step. These tools scan CI/CD pipelines to identify all the tools involved in the infrastructure and they check for any vulnerabilities that could become a problem later. Tools like these can provide visibility into workloads and help visualize risks and threats long before they reach production. These tools also monitor production workloads continuously to look for any threats and provide real-time alerts so that teams can take appropriate actions before it’s too late.

The adoption of the cloud will keep growing in the future, and new trends will soon start to make waves. The immense potential of cloud-native computing is unfolding before our eyes. These four trends are a good indicator of what’s ahead in the near future.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay

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