Google Goes Corporate at Google Next

There’s no doubt that Google exists to make money. They make money by getting companies to buy their services. When it comes to selling ads on search engines, Google is number one. When it comes to their cloud business, Google is… well, number three.

I’m guessing that irks them a bit especially since they sit behind a company whose main business is selling whatever stuff people want to sell and a company that made its name in the first wave of PCs. Basically, a department store and a dinosaur are beating them at what should be their game.
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Coming Attractions: Groundbreaking Service Mesh Research

In early January, I started researching the service mesh market. To oversimplify, a service mesh is a way of providing for the kind of network services necessary for enterprise applications deployed using a microservices architecture. Since most microservices architectures are being deployed within containers and, most often, managed and orchestrated using Kubernetes, service mesh technology will have a major impact on the adoption of these markets.

As I began writing the original paper, I quickly realized that an explanation of service mesh technology was necessary to understand the dynamic of the service mesh market. Creating a primer on service mesh and a market guide turned out to be too much for one paper. It was unbearably long. Subsequently, the paper was split into two papers, a Technical Guide and a Market Guide.

The Technical Guide is a quick primer on service mesh technology and how it is used to enhance microservices architectures, especially within the context of containers and Kubernetes. The Market Guide outlines the structure of the market for service mesh products and open source projects, discusses many of the major players, and talks to the current Istio versus Linkerd controversy. The latter is actually a non-issue that has taken on more importance than it should given the nascence of the market.

The Technical Guide will be released next week, just prior to Cloud Foundry Summit. Even though service mesh companies seem to be focused on Kubernetes, anytime there is a microservices architecture, there will be a service mesh. This is true for microservices implemented using Cloud Foundry containers.

The Market Guide will be published roughly a month later, before Red Hat Summit and KubeCon+CloudNative Summit Europe, which I will be attending. Most of the vendors discussed in the Market Guide will be in attendance at one or the other conference. Read the report before going so that you know who to talk to if you are attending these conferences.

A service mesh is a necessary part of emerging microservices architectures. These papers will hopefully get you started on your journey to deploying one.

Note: Vendors interested in leveraging this research for commercial usage are invited to contact Lisa Lincoln (lisa@amalgaminghts.com).

 

Network Big Iron f5 Acquires Software Network Vendor NGINX

I woke up last Tuesday (March 12, 2019) to find an interesting announcement in my inbox. NGINX, the software networking company, well known for its NGINX web server/load balancer, was being acquired by f5. f5 is best known for its network appliances which implement network security, load balancing, etc. in data centers.

The deal was described as creating a way to “bridge NetOps to DevOps.” That’s a good way to characterize the value of this acquisition. Networking has begun to evolve, or perhaps devolve, from the data center into the container cluster. Network services that used to be the domain of centralized network devices, especially appliances, may be found in small footprint software that runs in containers, often in a Kubernetes pod. It’s not that centralized network resources don’t have a place – you wouldn’t be able to manage the infrastructure that container clusters run on without them. Instead, both network appliances and containerized network resources, such as a service mesh, will be present in microservices architectures. By combining both types of network capabilities, f5 will be able to sell a spectrum of network appliances and software tailored toward different types of architectures. This includes the emerging microservices architectures that are quickly becoming mainstream. With NGINX, f5 will be well positioned to meet the network needs of today and of the future.

The one odd thing about this acquisition is that f5 already has an in-house project, Aspen Mesh, to commercialize very similar software. Aspen Mesh sells an Istio/Envoy distribution that extends the base features of the open source software. There is considerable overlap between Aspen Mesh and NGINX, at least in terms of capabilities. Both provide software to enable a service mesh and provide services to virtual networks. ” Sure, NGINX has market share (and brain share) but $670M is a lot of money when you already have something in hand.

NGINX and f5 say that they see the products as complementary and will allow f5 to build a continuum of offerings for different needs and scale. In this regard, I would agree with them. Aspen Mesh and NGINX are addressing the same problems but in different ways. By combining NGINX with the Aspen Mesh, f5 can cover more of the market.

Given the vendor support of Istio/Envoy in the market, it’s hard to imagine f5 just dropping Aspen Mesh. At present, f5 plans to operate NGINX separately but that doesn’t mean they won’t combine NGINX with Aspen Mesh in the future. Some form of coexistence is necessary for f5 to leverage all the investments in both brands.

The open source governance question may be a problem. There is nervousness within the NGINX community about its future. NGINX is based on its own open source project, one not controlled by any other vendors. The worry is that the NGINX community run into the same issues that the Java and MySQL communities did after they were acquired by Oracle which included changes to licensing and issues over what constituted the open source software versus the enterprise, hence proprietary software. f5 will have to reassure the NGINX community or risk a fork of the project or, worse, the community jumping ship to other projects. For Oracle, that led to MariaDB and a new rival to MySQL.

NGINX will give f5 both opportunity and technology to address emerging architectures that their current product lines will not. Aspen Mesh will still need time to grow before it can grab the brain share and revenue that NGINX already has. For a mainstream networking company like f5, this acquisition gets them into the game more quickly, generates revenue immediately, and does so in a manner that is closer to their norm. This makes a lot of sense.

Now that the first acquisition has happened, the big question will be “who are the next sellers and the next buyers?” I would predict that we will see more deals like this one. We will have to wait and see.

The View from KubeCon+CloudNativeCon – Containers and Kubernetes Become Enterprise Ready

In case there was any doubt about the direction containers and Kubernetes are going, KubeCon+CloudNativeCon 2018 in Seattle should have dispelled them. The path is clear – technology is maturing and keeps adding more features that make it conducive to mission-critical, enterprise applications. From the very first day, the talk was about service meshes and network functions, logging and traceability, and storage and serverless compute. These are couplets that define the next generation of management, visibility, and core capabilities of a modern distributed application. On top of that is emerging security projects such as SPIFFE & SPIRE, TUF, Falco, and Notary. Management, visibility, growth in core functionality, and security. All of these are critical to making container platforms enterprise ready.

“The future of containers and Kubernetes as the base of the new stack was on display at KubeCon+CloudNativeCon and it’s a bright one.

Tom Petrocelli, Research Fellow, Amalgam Insights”

If the scope of KubeCon+CloudNativeCon and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is any indication, the ecosystem is also growing. This year there were 8000 people at the conference – a sellout. The CNCF has grown to 300+ vendor members there are 46,000 contributors to its projects. That’s a lot of growth compared to just a few years ago. This many people don’t flock to sinking projects.

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Containers Continue on Track for 2019: 3 Key Trends For the Maturing Container Ecosystem

Tom Petrocelli, Amalgam Insights Research Fellow

The past few years have been exciting ones for containers. All types of tools are available and a defined deployment pipeline has begun to emerge. Kubernetes and Docker have come to dominate the core technology. That, in turn, has brought the type of stability that allows for wide-scale deployments. The container ecosystem has exploded with lots of new software components that help maintain, manage, and operate container networks. Capabilities such as logging, load balancing, networking, and security that were previously the domain of system-wide software and appliances are now being brought into the individual application as components in the container cluster.

Open Source has played a big part in this process. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation, or CNCF, has projects for all things container. More are added every day. That is in addition to the many other open source projects that support container architectures. The ecosystem just keeps growing.

Where do we go from here, at least through 2019?

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Hanging out with the Cool Oracle Kids

When I wrote my last article on open source at Oracle, I got some feedback. Much of it was along the lines are “Have you hit your head on something hard recently?” or “You must be living in an alternate dimension.” While the obvious answer to both is “perhaps…” it has become increasingly obvious that…

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Oracle Delivers a FOSS Surprise

An unfortunate side effect of being an industry analyst is that it is easy to become jaded. There is a tendency to fall back into stereotypes about technology and companies. Add to this nearly 35 years in computer technology and it would surprise no one to hear an analyst say, “Been there, done that, got…

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Google Grants $9 Million in Google Cloud Platform Credits to Kubernetes Project

Tom Petrocelli, Amalgam Insights Research Fellow
Kubernetes has, in the span of a few short years, become the de facto orchestration software for containers. As few as two years ago there were more than a half-dozen orchestration tools vying for the top spot and now there is only Kubernetes. Even the Linux Foundation’s other orchestrator project, CloudFoundry Diego, is starting to give way to Kubernetes. Part of the success of Kubernetes can be attributed to the support of Google. Kubernetes emerged out of Google and they have continued to bolster the project even as it fell under the auspices of the Linux Foundation’s CNCF.

On August 29, 2018, Google announced that it is giving $9M in Google Cloud Platform (GCP) credit to the CNCF Kubernetes project. This is being hailed by both Google and the CNCF as an announcement of major support. $9M is a lot of money, even if it is credits. However, let’s unpack this announcement a bit more and see what it really means.

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Microsoft Loves Linux and FOSS Because of Developers

Tom Petrocelli, Amalgam Insights Research Fellow
For much of the past 30 years, Microsoft was famous for its hostility toward Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). They reserved special disdain for Linux, the Unix-like operating system that first emerged in the 1990s. Linux arrived on the scene just as Microsoft was beginning to batter Unix with Windows NT. The Microsoft leadership at the time, especially Steve Ballmer, viewed Linux as an existential threat. They approached Linux with an “us versus them” mentality that was, at times, rabid.

It’s not news that times have changed and Microsoft with it. Instead of looking to destroy Linux and FOSS, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has embraced it.

Microsoft has begun to meld with the FOSS community, creating Linux-Windows combinations that were unthinkable in the Ballmer era.

In just the past few years Microsoft has:

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Infrastructure as Code Provides Advantages for Proactive Compliance

Tom Petrocelli, Amalgam Insights Research Fellow

Companies struggle with all types of compliance issues. Failure to comply with government regulations, such as Dodd-Frank, EPA or HIPAA, is a significant business risk for many companies. Internally mandated compliance also represents problems as well. Security and cost control policies are just as vital as other forms of regulation since they protect the company from reputational, financial, the operational risks.

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