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Weaveworks 2019 Predictions: Verticalized Serverless Platforms and More

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Alexis Richardson, CEO, Weaveworks

Verticalized Serverless Platforms and More

At this year's KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America, it was announced that Kubernetes has finally crossed over into "boring technology". This is not necessarily a bad thing. It means that a new technology has moved beyond its cutting-edge stage, and that it can be used safely in production.

In this interview with Alexis Richardson, CEO of Weaveworks, and Chair of the Technical Oversight Committee for the CNCF, Alexis answers questions on what technologies you can expect this year, how they could play out over the upcoming year and why Kubernetes might not yet be completely boring.

Much has been made of Serverless at Kubecon. Is this the new technology going forward?

I think that serverless, as we understand serverless to mean, where it's easy for an application developer to provide some code for a platform that will run that code, adds a lot value.

In the past, platforms as a service have been described as having zero to little market and yet an inevitable market occurred. If you look at companies like Heroku, they've been at it for about 10 years, and although they've been really successful, their platform in the cloud represents only a tiny minority of Amazon's total workloads.

More recently we're starting to see other kinds of platforms as a service under the name of serverless like Lambda on Amazon, which anecdotally seem to be getting a lot of uptake in the market. But can we tell if they represent a growing portion of Amazon's workloads?

Amazon is on exponential growth, but is Lambda on an exponential growth path too - relative to Amazon's total growth?

A lot of vendors or customers agree that the future is a large number of developers who don't need to understand how the plumbing works. They can simply request services and then deploy it more or less as it is and let the platform figure out how best to run that service.

What other platforms do you see falling under the serverless category?

You could imagine a world with 1000s and 1000s of platform idioms or serverless idioms. Machine learning as a service and many different kinds of machine learning as a services, for example: the internet of things, drones, cars, and healthcare.

A few weeks ago, someone was talking about an open source project for manipulating genetics and proteins and other molecular components. In the future, many of the serverless projects will be associated with specific areas. I think it will be very, very, very verticalized and area specific. This creates an atmosphere for a diversity of platforms.  Clearly the scope for that is huge.  Whether it's called serverless or PaaS or something... the terminology probably needs to change to encompass all that it will do.

The other thing is the layer on which this sits is still very much undefined.  There are still changes going on at the infrastructure level and even at the processor level. For example, you have GPUs from Google and perhaps other types of processors that still need to be invented.

And continuing on to the next layer up, what it means to be a container is still being defined and adapting. Cloud services like Web Assembly, an abstract machine that can run any code, runs as a Function as a Service with a lamda-esque offering for any C++ code or Java are similar to lambda layers. These types of services are only in the very beginning stages of innovation.

And if you keep on going up the stack, there are new application frameworks like Tensorflow and Kubeflow.  So, I think, we're not going to see innovation shift from the bottom to the top of the stack until the innovations slow down lower down in the stack.

What is meant when we hear that Kubernetes is now boring technology?

Although people have said that Kubernetes is now boring, actually it's going to take another five years before we derive a commonly agreed on platform for functions, abstractions, algorithms, and other middleware.  Once those are truly settled on and most of the providers are running similar platforms - that's when you'll see the real explosion of app development tools on top of Kubernetes.

I think this year, you'll start to see more of that side of things in the cycle. But ultimately, it's going to take a while for these technologies to really take hold.

Will we also need to see cultural shifts within the whole development environment?

That's the other area of developer tooling that needs to fully change before we embrace serverless technologies. We're starting to see the start of that with the processes that involve getting code from a developer's computer to the cloud.

We're seeing joined up stories with Azure DevOps and GitHub Actions and some other GitHub offerings that are also working on best way to get your code from the repo onto the cloud with the least amount of effort. A bit like platform as a service but more Continuous Delivery as a service. I would say that our own Weave Flux is a part of that landscape, as well as Skaffold and Draft from Microsoft and lot's of other GitOps projects coming up in the CNCF like Garden.io.  

These are all tools that are affecting cultural changes around how we do development.

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About the Author

Alexis Richardson 

Alexis Richardson, CEO, Weaveworks

Alexis is the co-founder and CEO of Weaveworks. He is also the chairman of the TOC for CNCF.  Previously he was at Pivotal, as head of products for Spring, RabbitMQ, Redis, Apache Tomcat and vFabric. Alexis was responsible for resetting the product direction of Spring and transitioning the vFabric business from VMware. Alexis co-founded RabbitMQ, and was CEO of the Rabbit company acquired by VMware in 2010, where he worked on numerous cloud platforms. Rumours persist that he co-founded several other software companies including Cohesive Networks, after a career as a prop trader in fixed income derivatives, and a misspent youth studying and teaching mathematical logic. 

Published Monday, February 11, 2019 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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