If the hype is to be believed, then every organization and enterprise today is using container platforms to power their most crucial internal and external operations. And, all of those companies are just days away from doing the same with serverless computing.
Of course, reality indicates that while a large number of organizations and enterprises are indeed interested in containers – and to a lesser extent serverless computing – production-level use is still somewhat limited.
There are countless hurdles in the way of broader adoption of container and serverless computing platforms, though a select few should remain top of mind for vendors.
Charlie Li, chief cloud officer at Capgemini, said one important challenge vendors need to remember is that larger organizations have a certain internal operating structure that is often opposite of what these cloud subsets offer.
Li said organizations, and more specifically their IT departments, are constantly being challenged to control their applications and systems, which are further threatened when moving to a public cloud platform.
“Organizations feel that if they move to a cloud provider they will still feel like they have their servers,” Li said. “They might no longer actually be on-premises, but organizations feel like they have a server somewhere with their name on it, and that’s comforting.”
Of course, that is not reality, and deep down those IT departments know that. That fear is exacerbated when using containers and serverless computing.
“With [containers and serverless] you are another step removed from control and usually don’t ever see what’s happening in the background,” Li said. “Everything is basically invisible.”
Li said many of Capgemini’s clients have dozens of tools for monitoring performance and other testing needs tied to their current data centers. However, those tools are nearly useless in attempting to monitor performance in the cloud.
“This is important to ease the fears of existing IT folks that are giving up control,” Li said. “They need to feel that if something goes wrong, they can at least see where the problem is.”
Vendors realize this challenge, and many are highlighting the monitoring aspect of their container and serverless options. Serverless computing platform provider Stackery, for instance, offers up its Serverless Operations Console to provide developers with more insight into the performance of their serverless deployments.
“Serverless is still in its early stages,” explained Stackery CEO Nate Taggart. “This is a new skillset that needs to be mastered, and by putting in place some familiarity it allows enterprises to be more comfortable, quicker. We really worked on making the console something that a customer would be familiar with.”
The Need for Speed
Another obstacle for broader adoption is that there is not yet an established set of use cases for containers or serverless computing. Li noted that the vendor community needs to come together to establish a set of examples that tie into the specific needs of organizations and enterprises.
One example given as a potential serverless computing use case was in setting up a way to offload capacity during high-volume, short-lived events. Li said this could be something like Black Friday, “where you need to make sure your ordering systems are able to handle the extremely high demand, but for only a short period of time.”
“There is no need to set up an extensive back office platform that really only needs to scale a couple of days of the year,” Li said.
He also highlighted mobile telecom operator T-Mobile as a great example of an established organization that is taking advantage of its cloud infrastructure. He noted the carrier’s recent move to include free Netflix access for new customers showed impressive agility in being able to roll out a deep, systemwide billing change.
“Imagine the other telcos trying to do that,” Li said, half-jokingly adding, “Their IT guys would say it would need up to 10 months and would have to go through 13,000 business systems. It’s just not practical.”
If Not Now, When?
While container adoption has been slower than expected, Li said the market shouldn’t lose hope. He explained that when clients last year were asked about container adoption, Capgemini said 2017 would be the year.
As for serverless, Li said adoption was running at least a year behind that of containers.
“We will see in a year,” Li said. “It may even be two years before there is mass adoption of serverless. All of our clients are expressing interest in trying serverless, but outside of a few new applications being launched and some PoCs [proof of concepts], mass adoption is still some time away.”