Kubernetes – a New Way to Bridge Cloud Infrastructures

As more businesses begin using Cloud computing, the concern over “lock-in” is increasing. For example, if a business chooses to use Amazon Web Services (AWS), the chance is that it will stay with Amazon Cloud for a while, since moving to another Cloud is expensive. If your company is using Office 365, the chance is that you are locked in with the Windows Azure. Your company’s emails and documents are stored in the Microsoft Cloud. This is how Microsoft obtains additional enterprise market with its integrated solution.

A friend told me that if he moved his product from AWS to Azure, it would cost him over $200,000. I replied, “Maybe you should have looked into RightScale, but then you would end up with a dependency on RightScale”.  There are tools like RightScale addressing the lock-in issues, and ultimately you will be locked in with a specific technology or vendor with these tools.

Last week, I attended a Cloud Talk Meetup session. Aja Hammerly, a developer advocate from Google Cloud platform was elaborating on the power of Kubernetes. AppOrbit, a Silicon Valley based start-up, demonstrated their platform that used Kubernetes.  Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration tool. It builds an abstract layer that can be used on top of different Cloud infrastructures. This presents a promising approach to solving the lock-in concerns.

The Kubernetes project was started by Google in 2014 and is now maturing. It is a platform for automating deployment, scaling, and operations of application containers across clusters of hosts. According to Google, Kubernetes provides the following benefits:

  • Microservices: Having a cluster manager enables the management and scalability of smaller parts of an application.
  • Self healing: Auto-placement, auto start, auto-replication and auto-scaling can be performed in the face of failures.
  • Low friction horizontal scaling: Adding more capacity can be achieved easily.
  • High utilization and efficiency rates: Google was able to dramatically increase resource utilization and efficiency after moving to containers. Developers are able to focus more on the service they are building instead of on the underlying infrastructure.
  • Portable: It can be used on top of public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud.

It seems to me that Kubernetes has the true potential to make Cloud infrastructure interoperable. The key is to design an agnostic data base so that portability can be achieved for various Cloud infrastructures. I invite your comments about this type of database design. What are your experiences with Kubernetes?

[This was originally posted on Linkedin on 6-5-2016]

Competitive Dynamics between Azure and AWS in the Battle for the Enterprise Cloud

When enterprises are figuring out their Big Data offering, they pay attention to the competitive dynamics in the Cloud space. AWS has been ahead of the game in the Cloud space because it was the first to offer IaaS in 2006. Over the years, it continues to enhance product features and functionalities based on market demand and became the first choice of many enterprises for Cloud services.

Microsoft released Azure PaaS in 2008 and implemented some strategies in order to catch up with AWS.

  1. Released Office 365 to utilize Azure in 2011.
  2. Extended Cloud Service to IaaS in 2012.
  3. Blended SharePoint into Office 365 in 2013 to sell a highly integrated information workplace environment [1].
  4. Aligned the development model with Cloud constructs for app developers [2].

All of these moves strengthened Azure’s position in the enterprise market; especially for the ones that are using the Microsoft Office suite.

Azure and AWS both have a fair chance to win the enterprise market. It is really not an apple to apple comparison. There are five competitive advantages that they may consider to offer:

  1. Understanding the customers’ needs and addressing them with use cases and testimonies. In another words, business development is just as important as the technology differentiation in the pursuit of business.
  2. Having a strong Hybrid Cloud solution to support enterprises in order to integrate Cloud with their existing infrastructures.
  3. Providing an integration solution with mobility [3].
  4. Building a stronger ecosystem in order to promote enterprise Cloud adoption.
  5. Providing interoperability in order to allow the existence of competitors.

While AWS and Azure are competing, the price of Cloud services will be kept low, offers will be enhanced and the ecosystem will continue to grow. Enterprises will benefit from the competitive dynamics and might end up adopting both vendors’ products for different business needs. At the same time, Google’s investment in network capability will put itself into the enterprise competitive landscape [4]. And IBM is stepping up through aggressive targeted acquisitions [5]. Enterprises will not short of choices in pursue of Cloud vendors for their Big Data solutions.

[1] Rob Koplowitz, John R. Rymer, Cheryl McKinnon (2014, 1/24), Microsoft Aims SharePoint to the Cloud, Forrester, http://bit.ly/1iPlgRU

[2] John R. Rymer and James Staten (2013, 6/14), The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public

Cloud Platforms, Q2 2013, Forrester, http://bit.ly/1nwqcLB

[3] CloudTimes, Mobile Cloud, http://cloudtimes.org/mobile-cloud/

[4] Matt Asay (2014, 2/7) Google Secret Weapon Against Amazon, Read Write, http://bit.ly/1d9FuVo

[5] Klint Finley (2014, 2,24) IBM’s Latest Cloud Acquisition Aims Directly at Amazon, http://wrd.cm/1cJ9lne