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The recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 conference in Seattle brought together a community that is defining the future of application development: cloud-native computing (CNC), with 8,000 attendees at the sold-out event with 2,000 on a waiting list. CNC is maturing to meet the needs of large-scale enterprises, and the CNC Foundation (CNCF) that organized the event attracted almost every significant player in the IT industry with an interest in software development. CNCF manages open source projects in this space under three growth phases: sandbox, incubating, and graduated. 2018 has seen the first three graduations: flagship Kubernetes project (container orchestration and scheduling) in March, Prometheus (microservices architecture monitoring) in August, and Envoy (service mesh) in November. Graduation means tools are enterprise-ready.

The challenge for enterprises is choosing a cloud-native infrastructure stack

As CNC projects expand in a Cambrian explosion, rationalization is expected to take place. Acquisitions have already taken place at the top end, with CoreOS acquired by Red Hat and Red Hat acquired by IBM. The huge expansion of CNC-related open source projects has made the task of navigating them a challenge for newbies and for CNCF that is guiding the newbies. The CNCF landscape chart, which lists nearly every player in this market and not just CNCF projects, is no longer readable on one chart. CNCF executives suggest that some changes are likely to help improve navigating this landscape. Today CNCF projects cover most of the CNC stack with replication, because the organization does not want to be kingmaker (for good reason) with Kubernetes at the core of its ecosystem.

The question for enterprises looking to move into CNC is where to find the low-risk and stable stack that can deliver a complete cloud-native infrastructure (CNI). Enterprises with the DevOps culture in place and the skilled resources required may wish to build their own stack out of projects such as those hosted by CNCF. Kubernetes with its ecosystem is certainly the winner in CNC, and this helps the community with a de facto standard. For enterprises newer to DevOps and CNC, more opinionated solutions, such as AWS CloudFormation, Cloud Foundry, Pivotal PKS, Red Hat OpenShift, and HashiCorp Terraform, might be the better choice.

The market has a need for a more integrated continuous integration and continuous delivery solution that spans cloud infrastructure and CNC applications. This is expected to be the next hot space in 2019, and GitOps might be the underpinning of such an approach.

UK academia has created the research software engineer role to answer the shortage of skilled CNC developers

Speaking at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, Dr Christopher Woods from the University of Bristol talked about how the UK’s academic community has recognized that computer science is not the path that leads its graduates to join the software development community. The role of research software engineer (RSE) is under formation, and many entering this role have post-graduate qualifications and from a wide range of subjects. RSE is designed to address the skills shortage of CNC needed in academia that is increasingly relying on software development.



Michael Azoff, Distinguished Analyst, IT Infrastructure

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