The Aha! Moment

Shipping containers

My last blog looked at some myth-busting around the world of cloud native DevOps. I left readers with the prospect of a brave new world where all the fun happens, so it is only right to elaborate.  

I have started recognizing a new Aha! moment for developers and the broader teams behind digital transformation. But, before we get to this, we need to grab our dial-up modems and take a trip back to the 1990’s.

First server disaggregation, then the birth of open source software gave businesses new levels of access to enterprise technologies at a fraction of the cost. As more people gained access to the digital domain, there was a big Aha! moment. Businesses realized what they could create in this new arena and we saw a technology revolution that laid the bedrock of ‘e-business’ as it was called back then. This created many of the largest companies on the planet today, in under two decades.

Fast forward and, as we moved forward through the 2000’s and 2010’s, we saw the popular adoption of virtualization, cloud computing, agile development, Docker, DevOps, continuous delivery and now Kubernetes. We have sped things up and become more efficient but, within all of this, was there another real Aha! moment for digital business? 

Up to now, the majority of DevOps adoption and the slew of Dev ‘X’ Ops trends we have seen, have been far more ops’y than focused on the developer. DevSecOps, MetOps, FinOps have all been about “shifting left” - ensuring developers get other things (besides application development) correct from the start of the development process. This was all necessary, but the industry has focused on advancing technology and refining the process far more than on people and our potential as creative human beings.  

We have also solved the core technical challenges of delivering stateful applications in a Kubernetes-native environment, but what does this mean? It means that, with the right choice of infrastructure, no-one needs to worry about how to handle their application data in a world of ephemeral containers. But, conversely, it also means businesses can now take and combine data from multiple sources and build applications around it in record times and with record low risk and cost. It is about the incredible potential that this unlocks for human ingenuity and entrepreneurship. 

And so to our new game-changing Aha! Moment. It is not a technology change, it is a realization, a reframing. It is the awareness that this combination of DevOps, cloud native and CI/CD are simply the springboard for a faster, more exciting era of development. It is also the awareness that data is not just something that stateful applications produce, it is something that you can take, combine and build new applications from - faster than ever before.

 Applications built on orchestrated containers, especially now that this includes stateful applications, give developers unprecedented powers. They can now slam together their favorite databases, streaming platforms and infrastructure in minutes. You want Postgres - “click.” You want, MariaDB, CockroachDB, Kafka, Elasticsearch, Prometheus, Prisma, Jamstack, Netlify… hit a few buttons and get straight down to building your application.

In my work with Cockroach Labs, I attend a lot of events. From Jamstack Conf and Prisma Serverless Conf to Developer Week, PyCon, Devnexus, Remix Conf, etc., And one thing is clear: very few application or even full-stack developers are still focused on Kubernetes. Yes, they’re consuming services that oftentimes are built on Kubernetes, but they’ve shifted their focus to the applications themselves, and that’s exactly how it should be.

However, all this developer-self-service does come with a degree of danger, especially when the options are too simplistic. Those developer “clicks” now represent strategic IT choices. They can lock companies into cloud providers and limit essential architectural requirements.

If the easiest click for developers is their cloud provider’s default networked storage or DBaaS offerings, this can inflate application operating costs by 10x. Companies have instantly reduced the possibilities of this new world of rapid, low-risk development by a factor of 10. If cloud storage services limit the use of multiple availability zones, or create failover delays measured in minutes, finished applications can be unworkable for use in production. 

Equally, as digital competition intensifies, application performance and latency becomes more important. In the US, end users are increasingly unwilling to put up with the latency of using an application running on the opposite side of the country. Global scale and coverage, now demands a federated local architecture.

There are still a lot of technology bridges that companies are going to need going forward. 

And this is where Ondat is now focused. Developers are actually going to want ever more complex infrastructure, but they are not going to want to configure it, or even have to explain requirements to the Platform Engineer. What they really need is more sophisticated developer-self-service. 

written by:
Leader in SW Dev & Engineering community management, as well as containers, open infrastructure, open source software, and social media strategies. CNCF Ambassador, changing the way we develop software through collaboration tools, customer service, dev advocacy, and community empathy! And for fun, ask me about… POSIX certification, wine making, how vendor control kills effective communities, why driving a 5-speed beats paddle shifters, Guilloche design, strategic response to conflict, how to throw a great YA book launch party, compassionate communication, and animal rescue.

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