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Structure 2015 - State of the Cloud and Container Ecosystems

| by Chris Swan Follow 543 Followers on Nov 19, 2015. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Rising from the ashes of GigaOm the tribal gathering of cloud elders that is Structure has returned, and got off to a strong start with Battery Ventures' Adrian Cockcroft presenting on the State of the Cloud and Container Ecosystems. Cockcroft paid particular attention to the impact of containers, which wasn’t even a major discussion topic at the last Structure conference in 2013. The event’s opening also had a significant contribution from Intel, with particular focus on healthcare applications for cloud.

Docker in production was noted as a major trend, driven by the ability to ‘build, ship and run’ containers in multiple environments. An evolution from ‘DIY frameworks’ in 2014 to ‘Hardening and best practices’ this year led to a forecast of ‘Mature production tooling’ for 2016. That view can be supported by Sangeeta Narayanan’s presentation a day earlier at the nearby QConSF event on how Netflix has adopted containers in production (since Cockcroft’s departure).

Looking at enterprise adoption of cloud, Cockcroft noted that use of Software as a Service (SaaS) has been a major factor in cloud growth, in addition to broader uptake of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This trend has in turn been fueling uptake of IaaS by Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) such as Pega Systems as their offerings go ‘cloud first’ in preference to on premise deployments. Cockcroft also noted that SaaS such as Office 360 has been a major part of Microsoft’s growth, and that they’ve also been doing a good job of harnessing existing relationships to sell Azure services. Many other traditional vendors came in for criticism for fracturing the OpenStack marketplace, and Cockcroft poked fun at Dell and EMC’s merger and HP’s split.

Cockcroft closed by noting that the two emergent trends of ‘Serverless architectures’ exemplified by Amazon’s Lambda and ‘Teraservices’ enabled by high memory instance types such as the forthcoming X1 with 2TB of RAM. The former trend was noted for freeing developers from any considerations about underlying infrastructure or scale, whilst the latter was seen as a way to develop a new generation of real time analytics applications.

Intel also made a substantial contribution to the opening of the event, stating that 50% of the volume of server CPUs they’re shipping to cloud service providers (CSPs) are now ‘custom silicon’ tailored to their specific needs. Integration of general purpose compute with programmable hardware using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) from Intel’s Altera acquisition will also impact cloud services as Intel are scheduled to release a new FPGA software development kit in the first quarter of 2016. Intel also touted their new 3D XPoint memory technology, which provides an intermediate point between dynamic RAM and flash storage in terms of capacity and latency making it a possible catalyst for the ‘Teraservices’ trend noted by Cockcroft.

Perhaps the most heartwarming part of Intel’s pitch was a commitment to an ‘all in one day’ target of 2020 for personalised cancer treatment. Intel’s Health and Life Sciences Group Global Marketing Director (and cancer survivor) Bryce Olson spoke about the effectiveness of personalised medicine enabled by gene sequencing, but also the big data challenges that go with it. ‘All in one day’ would mean that a patient could go from diagnosis to prescription of personalised treatments within a single day, and Intel are collaborating with multiple research organisations and healthcare providers to build the cloud services to make it happen.

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