By Sriram Krishnamachari, AVP, GTM Product Leader – Cloud Platforms, Mphasis
Ever wondered, what lessons can businesses draw from Jazz? The American composer and pianist, George Gershwin had captured the significance of improvisation in Jazz. Musicians were given freedom to test new techniques and arrangements while performing with other musicians on different instruments. While Jazz evolved with improvisations, classical symphonies were characterized by detailed compositions and an orchestrated playing process.
Businesses had long adopted the classical symphony strategy where they had elaborate processes and workflows to drive business objectives. While it is evident that technology has a huge impact on business strategies in today’s environment, the analogy with Jazz presents as an opportunity for businesses to improvise in order to innovate and be relevant.
Businesses have entered the next decade, aggressively pivoting their business models to meet the Industrial 4.0 imperatives, with a need to embrace a lot more jazz patterns. They are looking for tools, technologies, and methodologies that will drive overall business agility and enable them to innovate on the cloud. While enterprises migrated to cloud infrastructures in the past decade, focus on next-generation hyper-personal offerings and enabling technologies has become increasingly dominant. And with client expectations surging for new-age services, the need for flexible and elastic business models are also on the rise. Businesses are now quickly trying to leverage this opportunity through microservices and programmable infrastructures, for further growth.
However, rolling out microservices at pace is challenging due to lack of infrastructures that can enable scalability. Therefore, as Gartner’s predicted, the need for large web-scale distributed foundations have grown, thereby proving to be a critical element in this decade. More than 75% of firms would run on containerized applications by 2022 and the enterprise focus on Distributed Computing Solutions with container technology being at the forefront, will only accelerate. As overall business success increasingly depends on the enterprises’ ability to deliver digital services products rapidly, enterprises are turning to containers and Kubernetes as essential tools for building, deploying, and running modern applications at scale.
Container technology at the helm of datacenter efficiency
Drawing on Malcolm McLean’s intermodal shipping container innovation, container technology is changing the way enterprises deploy and run applications in their datacenters. Like McLean’s innovation, containers share a common lightweight, Linux OS and only keep the different pieces that are unique to that application within the container, which implies that enterprises can hold multiple containers on a server compared to virtual machines (VMs). More applications on fewer servers improve datacenter efficiency. This brings in key benefits like: seamless portability of applications to any cloud, ability to implement microservices architectures and higher density. All these lower overall costs of running datacenters.
Driving scalability and managing distributed containers
While enterprises deployed container platforms for scalability; managing the lifecycles of containers, especially in large and dynamic environments was becoming critical and challenging. There was a need for an elegant solution that could massively scale to manage distributed container workloads. This gave birth to Kubernetes at Google, an open-source project, adopted and supported by Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) community and sealing the debate on the dominant choice of technology for container orchestration, by close of the decade.
Kubernetes, at its core, is a database, powered with some features that enable a group of controllers to work together, like “jazz patterns”, to produce the result. Kubernetes components are written using the same Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that are available to users, which makes it easy to scale the system and be adaptive to new demands.
Major technology giants like Google, AWS, Microsoft, VMWare, IBM Red hat, along with the strong Open source communities are actively working to further cultivate the Kubernetes platform. Furthermore, identifying the platform’s workload management potential, organizations like Spotify, Big Basket, and AppDirect have started deploying it.
For instance, Spotify deployed Machine Learning (ML) on a large scale and they have been using Kubeflow Pipelines (KFP) to define, deploy and manage end-to-end ML workflows. KFP can turn components of an ML workflow into containers, to enable portability, while handling workload orchestration.
Similarly, the online grocery retailer, Big Basket is using the Kubernetes platform to address scalability requirements during peak times. Further echoing the success of Kubernetes in 2019, KubeCon observed a 50% increase in attendance from the cloud-native ecosystem compared to last year’s event which took place in Seattle.
However, the increasing compute demands on the edge, multi-cloud, regulatory & security concerns continues to pose both opportunities and challenges for holistic adoption. Specifically, where the Retail and Telecom sectors have shown a greater affinity for platform adoption, there is a dominant skill gap, in that demand for Kubernetes skills have inflated 752% over the past two years. Based on Research by CyberArk (via Cloud Pro) cites Kubernetes among the most in-demand IT skills for growth, moving up 729 places to the top 250 most required IT skills.
Hedge your bets with due diligence and established controls
As a Technology Executive, when you plan your migration to distributed applications with containers and Kubernetes, ensure that you have created Industrial Foundations with distributions of your choice, so it maps well with not just your cloud strategy but the operating model as well, which is critical. Establish well thought out exposure controls in place and consider the implications on portability of operations. Evangelize, over-communicate and onboard Business Operations and Stakeholders onto your next-generation platforms. Focus on Talent development & Governance equally as it is not just about knowing the Kubernetes platform, but being able to operationalize which is hard. More importantly, with due diligence, hedge your bets with the right patterns – be ready to jazz when you have to!