Industry Analyst: Microservice Architectures Make Public Clouds 'A Lot Less Agnostic'

The advent of microservices is making public cloud a lot less agnostic, according to Tom DelVecchio, founder of Enterprise Technology Research. That's forcing the channel to make important alignment decisions that will impact their practices for years, DelVecchio told attendees of The NexGen 2017 Conference & Technology Expo Monday in Los Angeles.

ETR research makes clear CIOs are increasingly leveraging "the dynamic nature of cloud and containers" to shift their companies to microservices application architectures, DelVecchio said at the conference produced by CRN parent The Channel Company.

And popular microservices solutions are coalescing around the "two-sun solar system" that is Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, he said.

[Research: CIOs Up Spending On Containers, Microservices As Companies Increase Public Cloud Use]

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The two leading public cloud providers have become "super stop-and-shops," with microservices stocking their aisles. Solution providers should think about how their partnerships with the two "mega-vendors driving the cloud" will determine "what tribe am I going to be associated with" going forward.

ETR captures large-scale technology spending trends through surveys of thousands of enterprise CIOs, helping customers "navigate those aisles of the new stack."

The company's data scientists have figured out how to hone in on the "predictive CIOs"—those who have shown an aptitude for prophecy. Their input is especially useful in identifying up-and-coming vendors, as well as those poised to decline rapidly, he said.

Fortune 500 CIOs and their development teams have clear-cut reasons for embracing microservices. Breaking up applications into smaller services delivers lower costs, more agility without long-term Capex spending, easier scaling on-demand, and increases the return on investment.

"We're dealing with developer-driven IT," DelVecchio said. "Developers have a say like they've never had before."

The research also makes clear enterprise CIOs are eager to abandon monolithic applications.

"Single-trick solution offerings are being decimated by vendors that offer microservices," DelVecchio said.

But the dynamic of cloud providers "pairing off" with microservices vendors is creating a new lock-in scenario that can trap a CIO or a solution provider. Despite the claims of public clouds, "no one is really agnostic," he said.

"People are choosing sides, and AWS and Azure are captains," DelVecchio said.

DelVecchio highlighted that dynamic with data assessing adoption of configuration management, machine logging, and monitoring solutions across the three leading public clouds.

On the configuration management front, Ansible, the Red Hat product, is most-popular among respondents using Amazon's cloud. But Chef is the leading configuration tool on Azure, and Puppet leads on Google Cloud Platform.

When it comes to monitoring, New Relic is the standout for Azure, cited by two-thirds of respondents, while rival Datadog is the monitoring service of choice by the same ratio for AWS users surveyed. New Relic was also most popular on Google Cloud.

An even more interesting dynamic has developed for logging services, where Splunk is becoming overshadowed by open source ElasticSearch (EKS) across those public clouds, according to ETR research.

While Splunk is a highly regarded log management solution, cost becomes an important factor driving adoption of the open source solution.

"Whether you're a solution provider or midsize CIO, you need to think about where are your IT futures for the next two to three years," DelVecchio told attendees.

Bradley Brodkin, CEO of HighVail, a solution provider based in Toronto, told CRN he's starting to see alliances form in the cloud marketplace.

"Microsoft is forming alliances, Google is forming alliances, and most interesting are those around AWS," Brodkin said.

Amazon is "the 8-zillion pound gorilla," he told CRN, comparable to Standard Oil in its heyday.

And microservices are a game-changing development for the cloud, said Brodkin, who focuses his firm's practice on partnerships with cutting-edge vendors.

"Microservices are basically infrastructure-as-code," he said, shifting the focus away from hardware and more on software. Customers want that approach, and, like DelVecchio said, solution providers need to appreciate that preference.

Bruce Enright, CEO of Kansas-based Tallgrass Technologies, said he appreciated DelVecchio's insights, especially since they were delivered with a vendor-agnostic perspective.

"His market-focused, data-driven perspectives provided macro insights to where technology values are headed," Enright told CRN.