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This article was originally featured in Channel Futures
The pandemic's effect shows the need for flexibility and the rise of hybrid computing.
A tumultuous 2020 is bringing big changes. In February, I shared a piece for Channel Futures that highlighted why 2020 would be a momentous year for containers, service mesh and cloud computing. Back then, nobody could have forecast today’s pandemic and its dramatic impact. Across all industries, it has changed the way consumers have digital experiences. And, it also made businesses realize their legacy IT infrastructure might not be able to keep pace with new demands.
Let’s revisit predictions from earlier in the year and map the changes.
Tumultuous 2020, What’s Changed
Hybrid cloud becomes more important than ever. I believe cloud was the lifesaver of our industry during COVID-19’s disruption.
As more businesses make a leap to cloud, hybrid environments will be a critical focus area as IT organizations prepare themselves to better work and operate with clouds, but many applications continue to run on-premise. While I predicted that hybrid would be a crucial technology in 2020, I did not expect its rapid pace of adoption, which has become much faster.
More organizations will adopt a hybrid cloud approach sooner than expected, as they’ll have no other choice to keep up with technology’s aggressive evolution. In fact, Flexera’s annual State of the Cloud report found that 87% of businesses have a hybrid cloud strategy, using an average of 2.2 public clouds and 2.2 private clouds. They must run legacy workloads or local cloud on-premise while also deploying on public clouds and managing workloads there; this is from both a VM and Kubernetes perspective. Companies will rely heavily on their third-party service providers for this accelerated transformation. This means channel partners should be able to offer expert counsel on Red Hat, VMware, AWS and other major cloud leaders. They also will be looking more to their channel partners for counsel on cloud design, integration, migration and data center modernization.
As COVID-19 severely impacts IT teams’ time and budget, those who provide solutions that are easier to run and integrate will win this space. Simplicity, known skill sets and familiar products with shorter time to integrate will be critical.
Acceleration for Containers
Container adoption should still run full-speed. In February, I predicted containers would become the de- facto software packaging model, with application modernization taking an accelerated path. This still holds true today.
Container platforms have become an essential factor in the cloud landscape, accelerating cloud adoption in enterprises. Gartner predicts that by 2024, worldwide container management revenue will reach $944 million. Channel partners that can provide expertise in accelerating cloud-native transformation will become essential during this time. Many companies struggle with migrating legacy applications to the cloud. They also struggle with modernizing existing applications, and depend heavily on managed service providers (MSPs) for these capabilities. Despite the pandemic affecting day-to-day IT needs, the implementation of Kubernetes and container adoption are still priorities for businesses.
COVID-19 should not affect the adoption of containers for those already on a Kubernetes platform. Anyone who already started with Kubernetes uses containers already. And, organizations understand the value of Docker-based DevOps, local PC development and CI/CD pipelines based on containers.
Serverless computing adoption slows down. I expected a move toward maturing best practices, security solutions, and tooling around serverless computing as more IT organizations implemented it. I saw AWS Outposts as the likely chief disruptor here. Why? Because It blurs the lines between on-cloud and on-premise workloads and services. This is with Google Anthos and Microsoft Azure as its main competition.
However, we can now assume that COVID-19 will affect the adoption of new technologies. This is because many organizations are unable to implement new technology due to the other tasks that take precedence. I expect organizations that were experimenting with the likes of AWS Lambda or Knative may take a step back for at least three to six months.
Service mesh is not quite the standard approach for cloud-native apps and microservices. I previously predicted service mesh would become the standard approach to run cloud-native apps and microservices. And, that the industry would start uniting behind a single strategy to service mesh in 2020.
More on Mesh
However, as of now, the list of open-source service mesh options continues to grow (unlike serverless computing options). This makes service mesh one of the most talked about domains today.
For instance, a few weeks ago, I spoke to Dell’s CTO, John Roese, and he firmly believes the industry will eventually converge. Although IBM, VMware, Red Hat, Pivotal and Google commit to Istio, the industry is still waiting for this convergence to happen. Istio is an open source service mesh platform. It provides a way to control how microservices share data, as their service mesh, the industry is still waiting patiently for this convergence to happen.
While all of this in-fighting is happening, a new body, the Service Mesh Initiative, was established to ensure none of the hyper-scalers could impose a lock-in on service mesh. This could begin to change things. IT organizations can define applications that use service mesh without tightly binding to any specific implementation. Watch this space.
The Revised Path Forward
COVID-19 has impacted IT teams’ time and budget. As new demands require a more flexible IT environment to keep pace, there is no question that things will speed up again. IT organizations must be ready to modernize and innovate, pursue agility and nimbleness or risk being left behind.
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