Looking ahead: a year of container, microservices, and serverless
The hybrid cloud is not going away, and many organizations are either continuing to or just starting out on the cloud-native development journey. Containers, microservices and serverless continue to be key players in the cloud-native and hybrid cloud environments. In this article, we explore what these technologies mean to IT architects in 2021.
Hybrid cloud, cloud-native environments and containers
First, let’s define our terms. What is the architectural definition of hybrid cloud? Red Hat defines it as "an IT architecture that incorporates some degree of workload portability, orchestration, and management across 2 or more environments." These environments can include at least one private and one public cloud, two or more private or two or more public clouds, or a bare-metal or virtual environment connected to at least one cloud, public or private.
When I say cloud-native, I am referring to building apps and services that are specifically designed for this architectural reality. Therefore, when you have a hybrid cloud approach, you also have a cloud-native approach.
When multiple clouds are in use, it usually means there is going to be more interest in having an environment-neutral experience for delivering container-based workloads. Containers need to be able to run in any environment, programming language, operating system, etc and moving forward, I do believe there will be more interest in container platforms that adhere to standards like Open Container Initiative (OCI), whose main goal is to provide workload portability across many cloud providers through Runtime Specification and Image Specification standards. I predict these standards will become more widespread, as more organizations recognize the value of container portability, giving yourself flexibility when choosing a cloud provider, and the benefits of being able to connect to multiple environments.
Integrating microservices and containers with serverless and managed services
Microservices are also widely used in cloud-native integration solutions. However, I have seen some of the common pitfalls of microservices, including how ready an organization is to be able to deliver on cloud-native microservices, struggling with how to manage microservices across their lifecycle, and realizing that some monolithic traditional applications can become agile enough to remain functional in existing architectures. In solving these challenges, organizations have become ready to move forward with some of the newer trends in the microservices space. At Red Hat, we believe that organizations that currently have a microservices strategy in place will start to embrace serverless offerings and make more use of external managed services. With serverless, resources are spun up and used only when the specific need arises, instead of being "always on," which can yield cost and resource savings. Especially with our recent updates to OpenShift Serverless, we anticipate that the barrier to entry for serverless will continue to decrease, so developers who may not be as familiar with it are able to more easily and quickly get started.
I also expect more organizations to make use of external managed services. This means once apps are built and scaled, an external vendor like Red Hat, manages everything else. With a managed services approach, the day-to-day of managing container deployments is moved to a third party. This can help organizations to simplify their container deployment while reducing operational overhead and complexities. Managed services can make container deployment more accessible because it streamlines the management process and allows developers to focus on spinning up and deploying apps. With more organizations embracing both containers and serverless, we foresee more and more teams embracing a managed services approach for maximum productivity and peace of mind. I have spent some time putting together an architecture blueprint of how to integrate your cloud-native services and applications with an external managed service or SaaS
We anticipate that these hot technologies - containers, microservices, and serverless - will continue to evolve over the next year and beyond, as more organizations embrace them and as developers better understand the benefits provided by them. Here's to looking forward and embracing cloud-native development as you continue to grow your hybrid cloud architecture.
Navigate the shifting technology landscape. Read An architect's guide to multicloud infrastructure.