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Akamai 2021 Predictions: Edge Computing Grows as Microservices and Multi-Cloud Environments Dominate Delivery

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Edge Computing Grows as Microservices and Multi-Cloud Environments Dominate Delivery

By Lelah Manz, senior vice president + general manager of Web Performance, Akamai

As we close the book on 2020, digital organizations have focused on introducing new and engaging customer experiences to remain competitive. Looking toward the post-pandemic world of 2021, organizations can expect edge computing to play a larger role in building those experiences - shifting from hype to reality. In addition, mixed multi-cloud environments as well as the implementation of "smarter" DevOps will be at the forefront of the coming year.

Edge Computing Adoption Will Skyrocket

Given the array of turn-key solutions readily available, developers will no longer grapple with whether custom code will run at the edge, but instead, be making clear decisions on which code will run at the edge. Many existing functions and microservices living on the cloud or on a local server will clearly benefit from moving computation as close as possible to their consumers.  The Edge provides better performance, reduced round-trip traffic, and the reduction of sensitive data across networks.  Migration is simple; existing code can seamlessly be relocated to the edge nodes of the network.

In fact, edge computing will see production use surpass the speed of cloud adoption, due to its ease of use for developers as well the avoidance of rewriting or re-architecting code, applications and processes. By 2022, edge computing will be considered a fundamental and logical choice for most development teams. It won't take the place of the cloud, but the edge will be a mission-critical location for code execution.

Delivery Will Focus Heavily on Mixed Multi-Cloud and Edge Environments

After a decade of consolidation and centralization of services in the cloud, businesses are gravitating toward more decentralized, hybrid environments that are less prone to the risks of monocultural infrastructure and vendor lock-in. Multi-vendor and multi-technology strategies offer more flexibility, less dependencies, and fewer single points of failure. Edge nodes outside of the cloud provide an additional location to run custom code. In 2021, DevOps teams will have to adjust their tools, technologies and practices to better manage these more diverse environments. "Everything as Code" will be one approach, but it won't be universally available in 2021 and will not be the one silver bullet.

Builder Culture Will Continue to Drive Innovation

Builder culture has evolved from the DIY/Open Source ethics of a decade ago to one that has vendors recognizing the importance of putting control and creativity in the hands of the developers they serve. As forward-leaning organizations embrace their roles as creators of digital experiences for their end users, the ability for developers to independently innovate becomes tantamount to their competitive differentiation and - ultimately - their success. Platform vendors who recognize this shift will assist in ushering in the next era of developer-led innovation by empowering development teams to create freely and by delivering the tools and visibility developers need to create, test and understand the impact of new digital experiences.

Rise in Edge Computing Will Lead to a Jump in Microservice-Driven Application Creation

The industry has seen a strong shift away from monolithic application development to one that is more microservice-driven. The motives and results are clear:

  • Decentralization: With microservice-built applications, each service has its own functional focus and its own supporting database.
  • Liberation: Microservice-driven applications are not bound to a monolithic model, but can be built atop the best-functioning services and data structures to meet individual functional goals
  • Mitigation: Failure in monolithic architectures requires a significant overhaul of the application. Microservice-focused architectures allow for faster mitigation of failures.

Compared to old-school monolithic architectures, building individual functional components allows for greater agility, faster times to market and decreased risk from failure. The confluence of edge computing and a microservice-driven application development opens up the next frontier for creating new digital experiences.

With the new year upon us, organizations heading into 2021 can expect edge computing to continue its trajectory to take center stage through its ease of deployment and significant benefits to current applications. Add that to the increase in hybrid environments and "smarter" DevOps at play, and 2021 could certainly bring a new chapter in innovation to organizations.


About the Author

Lelah Manz 

Lelah Manz is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Akamai's Web Performance business unit.  In this role, she leads the strategy, product direction, and engineering operations of Akamai's core content delivery product lines, supporting Akamai's customers with their ecommerce, ebanking, and digital business initiatives.   

As a 15 year Akamai veteran, Lelah has been in a variety of leadership roles across products, engineering, sales, services and marketing.  She launched Akamai's Advanced Technology Group, an organization responsible for incubating the go-to-market for new Akamai products.  This includes Akamai's Zero Trust portfolio, based on the 2016 acquisition of Soha Systems, and Akamai's marketing-leading Identity Cloud solution, based on the 2019 acquisition of Janrain.  Prior to leading the Advanced Technology Group, Lelah was in a variety of leadership positions across services and marketing focused primarily on the ecommerce sector.   

Prior to Akamai, Lelah spent 8 years in the technology industry, working for companies Dell, Microsoft and Trilogy, in both the United States and Europe. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Published Monday, January 11, 2021 7:42 AM by David Marshall
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