How to view the development of cloud native in 2022
This dialogue hopes to help more enterprise decision-makers clarify the technical value and provide reference through the observation and understanding of Ding Yu (Shutong), head of Alibaba Cloud native application platform.
What are the impressive events in the cloud native field in 2022?
Shutong: There are two aspects that I feel deeply. One is the development of open source, and the other is the construction of applications. Let me explain that in the past few years, Alibaba Cloud has made many technologies open source, especially the speed of open source has become faster in the past two years. It is largely driven by the development of containers and K8s. At present, containers and K8s have entered a stage of steady promotion and popularization. However, there are still a lot of fields to be redefined above this. To some extent, open source is gradually helping to establish standards in various fields.
For example, in March this year, Knative entered the CNCF incubation, OpenFunction entered the CNCF incubation in May, and Serverless Devs entered the CNCF incubation in September. These three typical projects mean that new trends are coming. Architecture forms such as function computing and event-driven gradually have the support of open source system.
From the perspective of developers, people's technical understanding is often to understand a new field through open source projects. When these architects think that open source projects are good, they will promote the application in enterprise scenarios, and gradually form a trend of widespread implementation. Therefore, entering the CNCF incubation through a large number of function computing and event-driven projects will also bring some positive and fresh technical blood to the industry.
From the application side, I will give two examples to illustrate. One is the internal case of Alibaba. In the two years from 2021 to 2022, Alibaba Cloud has achieved the cloud localization of its core products, which is the only cloud manufacturer in the industry. It is relatively easy for an enterprise to implement containerization for new applications, while old applications often face many challenges and need time to transform. For a platform like Alibaba Cloud, it is a milestone that its core products can be containerized and successfully completed.
From the external case, Alibaba Cloud supports large-scale sports events on the cloud, realizes that the core system is 100% cloud, uses the cloud in a cloud native way, and can quickly build applications on the cloud. This also sends a signal to the industry that whether it is an aging system, a system with massive access, or a system with different cycles and different forms, it can realize the transformation of cloud.
From the perspective of cloud service providers, at the Cloud Habitat Conference in November 2022, Alibaba Cloud announced that its core products will be fully serverless. We believe that serverless will become an important trend in the next stage of cloud origin.
From function computing, event-driven to containerized, the direction of unified software architecture will finally be formed. Gradually, the blueprint for cloud in the industry will be gradually completed, guiding enterprises how to evolve the application architecture, how the cloud should develop, and how to upgrade the research and development paradigm. All these changes are driven by cloud native and serverless.
Why is this the first year of the outbreak of Serverless?
Shutong: From the perspective of an enterprise's IT demands, if an enterprise is in the stage of rapid business growth and does not have too much financial pressure, then cost reduction is often not the highest demand, but efficiency will be very important. Because to support the rapid development of business, a very flexible and agile architecture is required, and all forms of business can be quickly tested and wrong; If an enterprise is under pressure in its business development, it needs to put its energy into cost reduction, but there is also a cost behind cost reduction, whether it is time cost or labor cost.
Enterprises will have different trade-offs at different stages of development, and will also put forward different demands on technical teams. However, the industry lacks a universal technology that can solve people's demands for cost reduction and efficiency improvement.
Cloud can solve the technical problems of the past generation. In the past decade, the industry has gradually formed a change of thinking about cloud, but in the next stage, cloud application construction is facing new challenges. Although there are many open source projects in the industry, many cloud products can be used, but there is no common set of standards and technologies, such as purchasing servers, selecting specifications, deploying services, customizing applications, and operation and maintenance, It takes a lot of energy from R&D and architects.
Cloud services themselves are also changing, from providing resources to providing capabilities. The flexibility of the cloud is very strong, but if the service on the cloud is not elastic and the application on the cloud is not elastic, it is difficult to bring the value of the cloud into play.
The same is true from the perspective of enterprises. If Enterprise A has a high level of technology and 2000 engineers, it can really maintain applications and services well; However, it is difficult for most domestic enterprises to have the capacity of this engineer. Especially, we hope that more and more startups can focus on business development as soon as possible, rather than basic resources and technical work. More and more enterprises hope that cloud will assume such a role and have the ability of standardization and out-of-the-box. For enterprises, access ability is sufficient.
Therefore, as the container becomes a new cloud computing infrastructure, it helps enterprises to enjoy Serverless services in a standardized way. This is the cost reduction and efficiency improvement brought about from the demand side to the supply side, and it is the direction for enterprises and cloud service providers to hit it off and drive its evolution.
Is there any relationship between the scale of the enterprise and whether the enterprise should apply Serverless?
Shutong: It has nothing to do with scale. We just think that Serverless can bridge the technology gap. Taking the Internet architecture as an example, it needs at least 20 people to build a complete system, including databases, caches, networks, messages, and micro-services, which need to be maintained, and may not be well maintained, which actually brings a high threshold for business innovation; Even now, many enterprises have only a few people from the beginning. How do they build their own systems? Therefore, we hope that both large enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises can smooth out the complexity of technology, not because the technical ability affects your business starting point.
Alibaba has been doing Internet architecture since 2006 and cloud computing since 2009. We have nearly 20 years of experience in Internet architecture and more than 10 years of experience in cloud computing. We can package these capabilities and provide them for enterprises to use directly out of the box, so as to avoid everyone from going through another detour.
What is the difference between the development of Serverless at home and abroad?
Shutong: The overseas acceptance of Serverless is relatively better, mainly related to market maturity and customer development stage. In China, Alibaba Cloud proposes comprehensive serverless and assembly-type R&D of core products, and also hopes to lead the maturity of the entire market ecosystem.
Alibaba Cloud's serverless products are supported by container technology at the bottom, and are more thorough and bottom-up serverless. The advantages of containers are widely recognized. Based on these advantages, we can build the foundation of Serverless and promote more products, such as databases, messages, and microservices, to achieve Serverless.
What is the difference between FaaS and Serverless Container?
Shutong: The core value of FaaS is to make the whole cloud product system and its ecosystem form an organic whole, rather than simply providing flexible resources. This is the fundamental difference between FaaS and Serverless Container. When a cloud product is serverless, it will no longer simply provide resources, but become an element of building applications. In the future, the entire cloud product system will be fully serverless, and after the deep integration of these products through event-driven and other ways, users can combine other cloud services through FaaS to quickly realize elastic and highly available applications. Such R&D mode is called assembly R&D.
We agree with Berkeley's Serverless=FaaS+BaaS. Serverless container is essentially to help users more easily implement serverless BaaS services, so it and FaaS can be used together to solve different problems. We believe that Serverless (FaaS+BaaS) will become the key to solve the challenges of large-scale and complex software development in the future, which is the most important value of the future development of cloud.
What changes will Serverless bring to O&M?
Shutong: Serverless shields the differences at the bottom, which is a subversive change in the field of operation and maintenance. Operation and maintenance will be upgraded to operation and maintenance research and development. Because the expansion and contraction of capacity and network layout that traditional operation and maintenance need to focus on are handled by cloud service providers, they can have a lot of energy to invest in developing new platforms, promoting business development, improving product experience, etc., instead of doing some manual operation and maintenance work.
How does Alibaba Cloud view the positioning of Serverless technology?
Shutong: It is not easy to promote the large-scale implementation of Serverless in China. This year, Alibaba Cloud has more than 20 Serverless products, and will also make the products fully Serverless in the future. For us, some down-to-earth work needs to be carried out to gradually Serverless products with high user demand, and at the same time, products such as function calculation, Serverless application engine SAE, and Serverless container ASK will become more universal and applied in more scenarios.
A technology trend needs a long time cycle from complete product capability to universal application in the industry. Alibaba Cloud recognizes this trend and will invest in it for a long time to promote large-scale implementation.
At present, we have also accumulated many typical cases in the industry, including pumpkin films, Century Lianhua, Sina Weibo, Gaode, etc.
We believe that Serverless represents the most advanced productivity of cloud computing and is also the end of cloud native. So we hope that these cases and best practices can be extended to tens of thousands of enterprises and developers. From this perspective, this year is a good start.
Based on your observation, what aspects do enterprise application Serverless value most?
Shutong: Shielding the technology gap is the most attractive place for enterprises, and of course, reducing costs and improving efficiency. Many enterprises know that it is beneficial to introduce some new technologies into the enterprise, but limited by human resources, costs and other factors, they can only flinch from some valuable technologies. Now we use the Serverless form to enable all enterprises to enjoy the same technical starting point and smooth out the differences at the level of production tools. Our real competitive point is on business development.
The container has been very mature after years of development. What are the new directions in the future?
Shutong: The container can be viewed from two aspects, one is runtime, the other is orchestration scheduling. Today, the development of runtime has been very standardized, and has expanded the direction of security, confidential computing, security containers, and has been widely used. But in fact, I think the pace of deployment is not fast enough, because enterprises will inevitably encounter many obstacles in the process of containerization transformation, such as legacy systems, technical debt, etc.
Internet companies have been containerized, or are in the process of containerization, but there are still some industries that recognize the value of containers for various reasons, but have not really landed.
On the orchestration and scheduling side, such as middleware, database, big data AI, gene computing, blockchain, etc., all these new loads and large-scale heterogeneous loads run on K8s, because standardization and generalization bring efficiency benefits. Today, the mixed department has become a new normal. It cooperatively schedules workloads with different characteristics and makes full use of the peak-shaving and peak-filling effect between loads, so that the workload can use resources in a more stable, efficient and low-cost way. This year, Alibaba opened the cloud native hybrid system Koordinator. Through open source, we hope to open better hybrid and scheduling capabilities to the whole industry, and help enterprise customers improve the efficiency, stability and computing cost of cloud native workload operation.
We also see that many enterprises have great demands for cost reduction, but they are confused about how to reduce costs, how to visualize costs, and how to manage costs. So this year Alibaba Cloud also released the container FinOps suite, which helps enterprises realize cost visualization, optimization, and control through digital and intelligent methods.
What do you think of FinOps?
Uncle Tong: We can't demonize FinOps, let alone put the cart before the horse. Cost reduction and FinOps are a goal, but not the ultimate means. The real focus of enterprises is to return to the technology itself. If the enterprise's architecture is not advanced enough, without using technologies such as containers and mixers to improve resource utilization, only focusing on the surface of cost management will not solve the core problem. The final solution to the problem still depends on technology and advanced technology. It is a positive process to find optimized and controllable points based on these technologies through FinOps tools and continue to optimize them. So in my opinion, FinOps is only an auxiliary tool. The core of real optimization is the progressiveness of technology itself.
Of course, the cost reduction of an enterprise is not a matter of the technical team. It requires the cooperation of all departments. Through the introduction of finance, it operates in a market-oriented way, evolving from extensive management and operation to refined management and operation.
In the future, FinOps will be your focus, but I hope you can see the technology and architecture behind cost optimization. The cloud platform is actually committed to making everyone's cost reduction and efficiency improvement more universal. We gradually polish the product technology and consolidate the product capability. Whether it is a traditional enterprise or a new enterprise, no matter what type of cloud the enterprise uses, it can finally achieve cost reduction and efficiency improvement at a low cost; This is not to say that in order to reduce costs by 20%, enterprises should invest 20% of their manpower instead, which puts the cart before the horse. We hope that when enterprises use the cloud, they can naturally have these capabilities to help them do these things well.
How to understand the intelligent container?
Shutong: Containers are a deterministic trend, and enterprises are becoming containerized. But how to use containers well is a very challenging thing. On the one hand, we provide the Serverless container service ASK, which allows the cloud platform to help enterprises and users manage. On the other hand, we will evolve container services towards intelligence, including Koordinator, FinOps and AIOps. In essence, we still hope to reduce the use threshold of containers, reduce its technical complexity, and let enterprises use containers at low cost.
Alibaba Cloud container service ACK is no longer a thin layer. On the contrary, ACK is very complex and advanced. It can combine with computing, storage and network in depth, fully release flexibility, simplify operation and maintenance interfaces, and simplify the complexity of heterogeneous environments. It can also deploy software in distributed cloud scenarios, even do multi-cloud hybrid cloud management, and constantly expand cloud boundaries, which is what we call "ACK Anywhere". However, this is to solve the problem of boundary expansion, and it also needs to make the container more universal, which needs to be combined with intelligent means, such as AIOps, FinOps, and Hybrid Department. Therefore, Alibaba Cloud container services have entered the era of intelligence in an all-round way this year, which is based on this background.
What are the new trends on the container?
Shutong: With the rapid popularization of containers and the application of cloud native technology, the traditional gateway can no longer solve the problems encountered in the cloud native era. If you want to solve all the problems, you need to invest a lot of components. But when there are many components, the operation and maintenance will become very complex. So this year we open up the cloud native gateway, Higress.
It is a new generation of cloud native gateway. Its biggest feature is the integration of traffic gateway, micro-service gateway and security gateway. The advantage of the integration is that the operation and maintenance is simple and one component is used to solve these functional requirements. Higress provides rich plug-in extension mechanisms to meet customers' flexible routing and security customization requirements, and supports the most comprehensive language extension mechanism; Of course, in order to reduce the threshold for customers to use, we integrate dozens of plug-ins by default, and facilitate developers to contribute common capabilities through the plug-in market, resulting in benign interaction.
In addition, with the development of microservices, the system architecture will become more and more complex. With the increasing number of micro-services, the upstream and downstream dependencies are very complex. In this case, how to ensure micro-service governance, link tracking, grayscale, application management and configuration, etc., need to be solved in a unified way.
So in April 2022, we jointly opened the OpenSergo project with Station B and ByteDance. OpenSergo is committed to reaching consensus between different microservice frameworks and communication protocols, and forming service governance norms. Let business developers not be separated by different languages and frameworks. Enable architects to describe their internal microservice architecture with unified specifications. Enable middleware developers to align with existing micro-service frameworks, enhance the interoperability between micro-service frameworks, and promote the implementation of micro-service frameworks in enterprises.
In 2023, which direction do you most like cloud native development?
Shutong: In the field of containers, the mixing department will be launched on a large scale. As all kinds of loads are deployed, one of the problems that must be faced is how to "coexist peacefully" and improve the utilization rate. Therefore, mixed parts will become a deterministic trend.
The other is Serverless. This year is the first year of the launch of Serverless. We have a lot of work to do. For example, we need to upgrade the corresponding R&D model of the cloud product Serverless. We also need rich product forms to support workflow, event-driven, visualization, drag-and-drop development, etc.
We should promote serverless application architecture. With the emergence of more and more industry benchmarking cases, more enterprises have felt the benefits of Serverless. Now we need a driving force to make the advantages become a consensus. Everyone knows which direction to go and try Serverless technology. The year 2023 must be the year of the large-scale implementation of Serverless. We will maintain the long-term faith to achieve this.
Knowledge Base Team
Knowledge Base Team
Knowledge Base Team
Knowledge Base Team
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