Revisiting Orchestration, PaaS and The Business of The New Stack
At their 2014 Cloud Customer Summit, CenturyLink’s Jonathan King, cloud strategy and business development; and David Shacochis, vice president, cloud platforms; joined up with The New Stack Analysts co-hosts Alex Williams before a live audience to record this episode, in which they look back at and explore topics that were first raised in previous episodes.
Here’s the recording. For more, check out the Podcast section.
The reflections begin with, “The Rise of Microservices in the PaaS World” which was recorded at GlueCon 2014 with Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller, and DigitalOcean’s Jeff Lindsay, as well as with Woody Rollins, CEO of AppScale, and The New Stack Analyst co-host Donnie Berkholz.
“That was an interesting time (May 2014),” Alex recalls, a time to observe “where the market was starting to head, not just for Cloud Foundry or OpenShift, but this whole new breed of homegrown Platforms-as-a-service that we’re starting to see now.” Alex mentions Deis as Platform-as-a-service that relies heavily on Go and CoreOS.
Jonathan mentions CenturyLink’s own journey to the PaaS world with their acquisition of AppFog and its subsequent integration into the native IaaS environment. He elaborates on a central question raised during that PaaS-centric episode of the podcast: “Is IaaS becoming PaaS; is PaaS becoming IaaS; is there still a distinction?” Jonathan wonders about Alex’s and Donnie’s current perspectives on this subject.
“The elephant in the room is AWS,” asserts Donnie who was at the event participating as an analyst, “adding more and more higher-level services.” Customers want more transparency out of the PaaS layers, says Donnie, as well as wanting more exposure and flexibility, “such as being able to compose one’s own PaaS on top of an IaaS and pulling in services that are interesting.”
Alex suggests that companies such as Salesforce, now taking a “mobile app developer approach” and “looking to bring this generation of developers, or quasi-developers, into the landscape,” are leveraging PaaS/SaaS combinations. This new kind of developer may be more comfortable working with drag-and-drop tools than with working at the command line, he says. The evolution toward “this quick-and-easy way to build apps,” a trend which The New Stack is seeing and covering, “totally abstracts the infrastructure itself.” Alex wonders what these changes will mean for back-end-as-service, and what existing or future services will actually constitute the back end.
Dave points out that the PaaS layer relies on external services, such as for data storage, and that running a PaaS necessitates having a viable ecosystem strategy, and he finds it interesting how an add-on engine can bind-in and orchestrate external services either at the PaaS layer or at the IaaS layer.
Of “What Comes with API Ubiquity”, Alex says the show deals with a concept he has been thinking on for some time: what does it mean to run a new stack business these days?
“We’re seeing heavy adoption of SaaS technologies for financial management (by the executive wing),” he offers as an example, saying that CEOs “have to think about data in a whole different context than they did before,” and that companies “are having to think much more about these business questions that go with the ecosystems and these platforms.”
“An ecosystem should surprise you,” says Dave. “There needs to be some ambient creativity in that ecosystem that’s coming at your platform and doing things that maybe you didn’t envision, sort of the ‘wildflower syndrome.'”
“Platforms are what allow you to create those ecosystem-type effects,” Dave continues, “it’s where the ecosystem can take place.”
Alex compares how AWS and Google treat their ecosystems, and says that it will be interesting to watch the gravitational effect of Docker on these established relationships.
“CenturyLink Labs down in Portland has really taken an entire focus on Docker and (is) driving a lot of content out there,” Jonathan says, recalling The New Stack Analysts Show 7, “Docker’s Future is in the Orchestration.” “People tend to talk about Docker as a new way to virtualize,” Jonathan says. “What gets lost,” he notes, “is that really it’s the orchestration and Docker Hub and all the other attributes that really make it compelling.”
“We started talking about orchestration and it became real clear,” Alex recalls the podcast conversation, “there’s so many different flavors of orchestration:” Diego’s orchestration for application management, Google Kubernetes’ more generic use of orchestration, and Apache Mesos, which is suited for larger-scale orchestration. This variety means asking more questions about what one’s orchestration is supposed to be doing, and about how one manages the application data within those containers and understands how it’s behaving.
Dave sees clients faced with these puzzles first-hand. “In addition to all of the different potentials you have for orchestration layers you have this preponderance of form factors that CIOs are struggling with to decide: ‘How do I deploy this application? What layer do I deploy it in?'”
He gets down to specifics. “Am I experimenting on bare metal clouds? Am I looking at some sort of virtualization container? Am I looking at a virtualization container that’s optimized at the storage layer? Am I looking at a Docker container? Am I looking at Platform-as-a-service container?” It’s vital to have a platform and an ecosystem strategy that can orchestrate within any one of these containers as well as provide options between them, because the answer may be “all of the above,” Dave suggests.
Alex wonders about the the future of the developer’s relationship to this transforming infrastructure in the burgeoning continuum of applications conversing with said infrastructure.
“[It’s] like a universal policy is being set.”