Maybe you’re already fed up with Cloud Native, containers, Kubernetes, and other new buzzwords. It can be overwhelming for sure. However, this is the result of the constantly accelerating pace of software development and Cloud Native is a new approach that meets the requirements of those who have been struggling with keeping up with the ever-growing needs of both developers and operations.
It’s not the first time that we’ve been presented with a miraculous solution that would make everything work smoothly and require little or no effort from us. Is it maybe another fancy technology that will sooner or later fade into the abyss? Let’s have a look at some points from the perspective of someone who chooses to ignore this whole Cloud Native approach and what consequences one can face.
Cloud Native is more than a new buzzword. There is the CNCF foundation behind it with all the big players like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and many more. They make sure that the community can use the most robust and mature of the projects that are being developed by various organizations (and often have commercial products associated with them). One of the most well-known projects is of course Kubernetes and many other CNCF governed projects leverage or extend its functionality. With so many projects and so many companies involved in the CNCF foundation, it’s clearly something bigger than just a buzz. This is a place where new ideas come to life and are available as open source projects or commercial products for all to implement in their environments.
Those who choose to ignore it will eventually be left with legacy solutions that do not adhere to the modern world. In some cases, those organizations will be left alone with products that are very expensive to maintain and their vendors will take advantage of this situation by dictating the terms of license agreements (i.e. growing license fees).
By neglecting the need for constant improvement of their products, those organizations risk their products becoming obsolete (or rather quick taking under consideration the current pace of the competition on the market) and being considered as legacy solutions by their customers. And no - this choice of ignoring Cloud Native doesn’t mean their products are just stable or mature, as you can have both of these traits with Cloud Native in a much easier way.
Those who can’t keep up with the pace pay the price and risk not only less income but eventually degradation and potential disappearance from the market like so many companies from the past like Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia, and dozens of others.
Slower pace of innovation
Lack of innovation is a very radical outcome and almost everyone wants to improve their products or services. In the case of software development, it’s almost impossible to stay on the market without constant improvement. This may not seem like a challenge, after all, thriving on the technology market is all about creating something that exists only as bytes written somewhere and not like building a house, bridge, or anything that is hard to modify after it’s been constructed. In reality, many organizations struggle to create a robust system that supports development so that each new release can be deployed to production environments in minutes and not in hours or days. Some may be skeptical about the containers, as they might seem very similar to virtual machines that are so ubiquitous in every IT environment, but they bring a real change and combined with Kubernetes can drastically speed up the whole development process. It’s not only about how quickly they can start, but rather about how their ephemeral nature determines the design and also enables (or even enforces) automation. It’s one of the key elements of modern environments - they must be automated and from this automation comes speed.
What can you lose without enough speed? Besides growing frustration, in the end this lack of speed also directly correlated with customers choosing competitors who can keep up and innovate fast enough.
Slower response to the growing demand for your services
Great products need not only an environment where they can be developed but also one where they can be easily scaled. Sooner or later more customers will start using it, sudden spikes of traffic will arise, and what’s worse than being unable to process that? Customers who face this problem would probably lose patience and they will often spread the news about how unreliable the service you provide is (what’s sad but true is that they praise it when it works properly).
Cloud Native environments built on top of Kubernetes and containers are easily scalable because that scalability is significantly easier to achieve with built-in objects (i.e. Deployment, ReplicaSet, DaemonSet, StatefulSet) that support it out of the box. Combined with modern IaaS, these Cloud Native environments based on Kubernetes can scale automatically (using Kubernetes cluster autoscalers) also on the infrastructure level to increase performance and reliability at the same time. With the VM-based approach, this scalability is also possible, but it’s not that easy and also many choose the easier path, treating those workloads as pets, not cattle.
Modern environments get more complex and also more vulnerable. With so many components it’s just harder and harder to keep them secure. With traditional, and let’s call it straight - legacy approach, security is based mostly on practices and procedures described in documents and they are rarely implemented, but only exist to assure the management of an organization that this critical area is covered.
Because containers are created from immutable images and Kubernetes can be managed entirely from code, this Cloud Native approach provides a quick path to upgrades of cluster components and, of course, applications running on it. This enables use of these rapid updates to fix vulnerabilities, often in a fully automated way (e.g. by leveraging auto-upgrade of Kubernetes clusters in the cloud).
Failure to keep environments and applications running on them secure may have disastrous consequences starting with bad publicity and ending even with bankruptcy. It’s one of those topics that cannot be neglected and Cloud Native brings solutions that adhere to the demanding world of the microservices architecture that so many applications are based on.
Problems with finding good employees
Last but not least is the challenge many organizations face when they want to build great products - it’s the people that will craft it from code. How to hire new experts and how to retain those who already work with you? Some try to address this challenge by paying more and it’s often practiced in cases where legacy technology stack is used - then it’s hard to not only keep those who maintain it, but it’s even harder to hire new “daredevils”.
Some say that containers and Kubernetes are hardly an innovation any longer - they have become a standard for modern development. And yes - those who build innovative products need to work with new technologies that will support their work, have good support, and integration with other tools they use. Even for less senior positions, it is easy to find self-motivated people who will be thrilled to work with experts and learn new things that so many talk about.
Without good people it’s impossible to build good products. They are the core of every organization and neglecting their needs will surely backfire sooner or later. One can doubt those buzzwords, but one cannot ignore the voice of their employees.
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