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Becoming Cloud-Native

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Cloud technology is really about On-Demand Technology with a lot of new possibilities coming, making new ways of thinking possible, and important, Peter van Hardenberg stated in a presentation at the GOTO Berlin Conference looking at what’s coming at the horizon.

Peter, working at Heroku, a Platform as a Service (PaaS) company, describes how in the early years of using the cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), you would start by finding which type of servers to use, design a release process, do some capacity planning and setup a load balancer. All of this represents a substantial cost for each application, depending on your experiences, so you will not do this several times a day. In this scenario the best way reduce cost is to minimize the number of applications you run. In contrast to this, in an abstracted world using PaaS, Peter argues that you have a model where you just push out an application resulting in substantially lower cost.

For Peter this raises a question of what consequences reducing a cost to nearly zero could have. When a task that is tedious, time consuming or expensive in some way and the cost is reduced quite a bit, what new possibilities does that open up? When reducing the cost of creating and running an application, Peter thinks that microservices becomes a possibility, now it’s possible to from start use many services collaborating and with a minimum per application overhead still having a low cost, an example of a cloud-native way of thinking as Peter calls it.

One example Peter gives is testing a staging version of a microservice in a production environment and sending it a certain percent of the traffic, a requirement that is very hard to achieve in a traditional environment, in a Paas environment this is quite easy to accomplish. For Peter this is an example of how a change in the economics of application creation, deployment and operation has opened up a new field.

Another example of this new way of thinking is stateless databases, a database that stores no data, but can be created at a notice moment. One use case is when running tests; a test run will always and quickly get an empty database, a database that is unpolluted of previous tests. If it takes several minutes to provision a database this strategy would not be working, but if it takes one second it becomes feasible.

Each time you log in to a server in an IaaS environment to look at what’s wrong with it Peter thinks there is a problem with how you are using infrastructure services. The solution to such problems is to throw the server away and get a new one. The incremental cost of a server is so low, instead of designing your system around starting and managing servers, design a server factory and when a server breaks just replace it. This is for Peter yet another way of thinking cloud-native.

Earlier this year InfoQ had an article wondering What Is Going on with PaaS?

The GOTO Berlin Conference 2014 is the second GOTO conference in Berlin, with around 550 attendees and 80 speakers.

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