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Moving .NET Apps to the Cloud



The panelists discuss the benefits and challenges of moving .NET apps and the different options available, including managed Kubernetes services, serverless platforms, and HTTP-based hosting options.


Irina Scurtu is Software Architect, Microsoft MVP, Independent Consultant. Martin Thwaites is Principal Developer Advocate @ Guilherme Ferreira is Microsoft MVP, Tech Speaker, YouTuber, and .NET content creator. OSS Developer Advocate at FARFETCH. Scott Hanselman is Partner Program Manager at Microsoft. Renato Losio is Principal Cloud Architect @funambol.

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Losio: In this session, we are going to be chatting about moving .NET applications to the cloud. I would like just to clarify a couple words about the topic. As organizations are increasingly moving towards cloud computing, there is of course a growing need as well for .NET application, the .NET world to be migrated to the cloud. We are going to discuss which tools, which services a .NET developer can use to be successful in building cloud native application. We'll discuss benefits as well as challenges and mistakes made, and suggestions, whatever the different options because there's not just one way to do it, whatever cloud provider you choose. You can use whatever we are using, managed Kubernetes services, serverless platform, EdgeDB based hosting option, the way you're going to do it, we'll see during this amazing panel. We now see how we can move .NET application to the cloud.

Background & Experience with .NET and Cloud Tech

My name is Renato Losio. I'm an editor here at InfoQ. I work as a principal cloud architect at Funambol. We are joined by four experts on .NET and cloud technology, coming from very different companies, different countries, different backgrounds. I would like to start giving each one of them the opportunity to introduce themselves, share their experience with .NET, and cloud technology.

Thwaites: I'm Martin Thwaites. I go by MartinDotNet on the Twitter's, should give you an idea of where my focus has been for the last years on .NET. I'm a principal developer advocate for a company called Honeycomb, who provide observability type solutions. I work a lot on the OpenTelemetry .NET open source libraries.

Scurtu: My name is Irina Scurtu. I'm an independent consultant, Microsoft MVP, and speaker at various conferences. I've worked with .NET since I know myself, when I finished the computer science faculty, I leaned toward .NET because I hated Java at the moment. .NET was the alternative and C# was lovely to learn.

Ferreira: Feel free to call me Gui. I've been working with .NET since my first job. I have been in the cloud since 2012, I think so. Currently, I'm a developer advocate at FARFETCH and a content creator on YouTube, and all those kinds of things.

Hanselman: My name is Scott Hanselman. I've been programming now for 31 years. I have been doing .NET since its inception. Before I worked at Microsoft, I did large scale banking. I was basically putting retail banks online. I have experience in not just doing things on the web and in the cloud, but also doing it securely within the context of government requirements and things like that.

Major Pain Points of a .NET Developer, Dealing with the Cloud

Losio: Let's start immediately with the challenges. What do you think is the major pain point today for a .NET developer, dealing with cloud technology, moving to the cloud?

Hanselman: I think that sometimes people move to the cloud in a very naive way. They think of the cloud as just hosting, at scale. I think that that's a very simplistic or naive way to look at that. I use that word naive very specifically, because to be naive is a kind of ignorance, but it doesn't indicate that it's not something you can move beyond. You can teach yourself about these things. I feel a lot of people just lift and shift. What they'll end up doing is they'll pick up their .NET app, and they'll move it over there. They'll say, we're in the cloud. Maybe they'll get on a virtual machine, or maybe they'll do platform as a service. That's great. I think it is simplistic when there's so much more elasticity and self-service that they could do. They also tend to spend too much money in the cloud. The amount of headroom that you need on a local machine that you paid for, and the amount of like extra CPU space, extra memory space, you can abuse the cloud, you can treat the cloud like a hotel room or an Airbnb, and you can leave it destroyed. Then let the people clean up after you.

Scurtu: I feel so many teams like using the cloud just because it's cloud and it's there and it should be used, and afterwards complaining about the invoices that come at the end. They didn't know how to tweak things or use things just because they are shining, that they needed those.

Minimizing Lift and Shift During Migration

Losio: Scott raised the point of lift and shift. I was wondering if it's really that people don't know, or maybe people are even overwhelmed by the too many options to do one thing, or how many services now cloud providers can offer? What's the first step a .NET developer should do, to not do, at this point, lift and shift? What do you recommend?

Thwaites: I honestly don't think it's .NET developer specific. This is about defining why you're moving to the cloud. Is it because you want things to be cheaper? Is it because you would like things to be easier to scale? Do you want that elasticity? If you don't define why you want to go, you can't decide how you're going to go. If you want elasticity, just dropping your stateful website that doesn't support autoscaling in the cloud is not going to give you elasticity. Because you're still going to have to have that stateful thing in the cloud and it won't scale. You can maybe buy a bigger server quicker, but you're still going to have downtime. If you don't go into moving up, you can't choose the right platform. Is it choosing App Service? Is it choosing the new Cloud Run stuff? All of that stuff is, I need to know why I'm trying to do it in order to be able to choose the right things.

There's everything from Container Apps in Azure, and Fargate in AWS. You've got Functions. You've got Lambda. You've got all of those different things. Unless you know why you want to move to the cloud, you've got that edict that's come down from the big people upstairs that say we need to move to the cloud. Like, "Great. Ok, I've moved to the cloud." Why is it seven times more expensive? You didn't specify that reducing cost was the reason why we're going up there. If you don't specify the why, then you are not going to get there. You might say, yes, we've got the rubber stamp, the tick box that says we're in the cloud, but that's it. I think that's the biggest problem that people have at the moment. They think that just lifting and shifting an app that exists on-premise, or on that machine under Scott's desk, that moving that up to the cloud doesn't inherently make it more scalable, it doesn't make it cheaper, it doesn't do any of those things. It will make you tick the checkbox of in the cloud. If that's the only thing you want to hit, do it.

Lift and Shift: First Step or Incremental Move to the Cloud?

Losio: I was thinking, we're back really to the lift and shift topic. For example, if you see it more as a, no, very bad approach always, or it's like, can it be a first step or an incremental move to the cloud? I have my monolith, I move it to the cloud. I start to break it in pieces, or maybe I prefer to start immediately with moving my .NET app to Functions or whatever.

Ferreira: It's maybe a first step, because everyone remembers what was the first two months of the pandemic, and you have a service in-house, and everyone needs to access it now. How do you do it? If you have just a month to do something, it's better than nothing. As Martin was saying, I can remember those moments where we were being sold that cloud was just about cost savings. I don't recall a sales pitch on the potential of cloud. If you go with lift and shift, you can achieve some results. At least you should think about what you'll be doing next. What are the next steps? There's a strategy needed there, in my opinion.

The Next Step After a Lift and Shift Migration

Losio: Irina, I was thinking, as he just mentioned, you should think what the next step is. I was thinking, I'm a developer. I did my very first step. I got some credit from Microsoft, or some credits from AWS, I decided to lift and shift my stuff to the cloud. I have maybe a simple app bridging .NET with a SQL server, database, or whatever. Now, what's the next step? Just wait until I run out of credits and then think, or how can I really go cloud native? What's the next step for me that you recommend?

Scurtu: As an architect, I would say that it depends. Again, if you're a developer trying to learn about cloud and what it is and why it should be used, then as a .NET developer, it's very easy. You have everything there, minimal code changes, you're up and running in cloud. If you're trying to think that, I have a whole system that I want it in cloud, the story is, it's way longer than it depends. It depends on the ulterior reason that you have. You want to be in cloud because it's shiny, you want to modernize your app, or you want to actually achieve some business checkpoints, rather in costs, rather in scaling your app or serving your customers, or just making sure that you won't lose business when there is high demand. You need the elasticity of the cloud.

Hanselman: I just think it's lovely, though, because what we're acknowledging is that software is meant to solve problems for humans and for businesses. If we go into those things, just looking at the tech for the tech's sake, we're going to miss the point. Everyone on the panel has so eloquently said that, why? Why does the cloud exist? Why are you moving to the cloud? Because you'll see people work for a year for their Cloud Run migration strategy. They'll go, what did you accomplish? I'll say, it's over there now. This one goes to 11.

Approaching .NET Development from Scratch (Serverless vs. Kubernetes)

Losio: Let's say that I'm in a very lucky scenario, I start from scratch. I don't have to migrate anything. Now let's get a bit more in the, what can I really use? I have the world open in front of me, I can choose any cloud provider I want. I want to go to the cloud. How do I develop my app? I start with serverless because it's cool, because it's better. No? I start with Kubernetes. I start with whatever. How would I approach my .NET development from scratch?

Thwaites: The first step I would go with is Container Apps or Fargate. It's middle of the road, which is the reason why I normally recommend it to people because you've got control over your stuff. You can run it very efficiently locally. You're scaling very easily. In using containers, you're essentially going to be building something that's stateless, or that's built to scale. You're not having to worry about VMs. You're not having to worry about a lot of things. You're also not having to worry about hiring 17 Kubernetes administrators to fire up your AKS cluster and manage it, and scale it, and all that stuff. There's been a while where people are going, "Kubernetes is the future. Everybody should be deploying on Kubernetes." I don't agree. I think managed container platforms are the future. Because I don't want to care about Kubernetes, I want to say go and run my app. I would probably use App Service, if I'm on a .NET and Azure. There's actually something that AWS have just released for the .NET stuff, which is very similar, which is, here's my code, go run it. I don't want to care about where it runs. I don't want to care about VMs. I don't want to care about a slider to add more VMs. I just want like, here's my code, and go and run it.

I also don't want those costs to scale exponentially, like you would get with serverless. There is too much to consider with serverless. To me, middle of the road is containers. That's what I always recommend to people, run it in a container, run it on Container Apps, run it in Fargate. Those things are much easier to get started with. Then you can choose which direction do you go. Do I go with something that's going to be charged by request or execution, or do I go with something where I have consistent scale, so I can actually get a lot more cost by buying VMs up front? If you go middle of the road, you've got both ways that you could go with it.

Losio: Gui, do you agree or will you go more on the Kubernetes way?

Ferreira: No, I will say that when you start, if we're talking about Azure, the easiest way is that for sure you are a web developer, you are more than used to building web applications, deploying to App Services, it's quite simple. You don't need to learn a lot of things. It's an entry point. Once you start getting comfortable about that, maybe you can start thinking about what types of things I can solve with serverless. Because learning serverless when you have been doing web development for your life, it's a different beast. There's different concerns that you need to think about. Kubernetes, you most likely don't need it.

Managed Container Platforms

Losio: If I understand well, you're all saying that as a single developer, or if you're not running a huge, large-scale project, probably you're going too early in Kubernetes. Did I get it right or wrong? Do you see any scenario where it makes sense to think almost immediately to move to Kubernetes?

Hanselman: A couple of years ago, maybe 5 or 10, IIS ran the world, then it was Apache. Then we went to sleep for a minute and we woke up on a Tuesday afternoon, and it was NGINX, and no one could find Apache anywhere. Then a couple of weeks went by, and then it was Kubernetes. It's always going to be something. Kubernetes is great. It's lovely. It's the hotness right now. I have to agree with Martin that I don't want to see all the knobs and the dials. I don't want my web application to look like the dashboard of a 747. It's too much. I think that managed container platforms of which Kubernetes is one, with orchestrators, of which Kubernetes is the first among equals, is the move. I think that we should probably spend some time thinking about what it is about .NET that is special and impressive, and then how it relates to containers.

As an example, I ran my blog and my podcast on Windows 2003 Server on IIS for 15 years. Then with the .NET Core wave and now .NET 5.6.7, compiled it on Linux, put it in a Docker container. Now I can put it anywhere I want to. I can run it on Kubernetes. I can run it on Linux. I can run it on WSL. I can run it on a Raspberry Pi. This is an 18-year-old .NET Windows application that by virtue of .NET's ecosystem is now a cloud-based container application and happens to be running in App Service for containers on Azure, but could work in ACA or could work in AKS. That's the magic in my mind of .NET. If I wanted to move it to Linode, I could do it tomorrow. It wouldn't even have a moment of downtime.

When Azure App Service is not the Best Choice

Losio: Actually, I already heard three people mentioning the benefits of using App Service. Is there any scenario where any of you would recommend not to use, where probably going App Service is probably not the best choice for moving, for example, a .NET of course?

Hanselman: One example I like to give is actually now almost a 20 or 25-year-old example. I used to work at a company called We had a deal where we sold three DVDs for a dollar. It was pre-Amazon online system. We had the shopping cart, and we had the product catalog. We all ran it on IIS. Imagine if you're running it on App Service, and people are browsing, and people are buying stuff. Ninety-seven percent of people were basically browsing, and 3% were buying stuff. Then we said, three DVDs for a dollar to get the internet's attention, and the internet lost their minds. Then suddenly, 3% of people were browsing, and 97% of people were literally trying to give us a dollar. Because the whole thing was one application in one place, we couldn't just scale up the shopping cart. In this case, again, 20-plus years ago, we had to change DNS to have and Effectively partitioning node sets, and then change the scaling model. If you put everything in one single pile in App Service, you have limited scaling abilities, because you don't have microservices, you don't have individual things. You could have separate app services, where you've got Kubernetes, and you're running things, you go, "Quick, turn the knob on the shopping cart side and turn down the knob on the product side," or serverless, and then change the elasticity of those services. App Service would probably be a little more difficult if you had a more complicated architecture like that.

Patching and Security Updates in the Cloud

Losio: It sounds great just to run my code, but how about patching and security updates. I hear that question often about the move to the cloud. How do I think about patching and security updates when I move to the cloud?

Scurtu: The nice thing about cloud is that they just take care of that. Patching and security in your code, it's your business, like using secure DLLs, libraries and everything related to the code itself. When it comes to infrastructure, whatever you're using, except virtual machines, they will take care of that. They will remove the burden of you going in, updating, and having downtimes and so on, because basically someone else is running the things in your place. It's nice. It removes the burden of manually getting into servers and applying updates. For example, when you're running, you have your computer open and just starts updating. Yes, it's not nice to happen on the server that's on-premise.

Thwaites: We talked about running containers. I think one of the things that people miss is your container is your responsibility, not just your code, when you're doing containers. When you're doing App Service, which is the reason why I want, here's my code, just run it, because somebody else manages both the container runtime and what's installed inside my container, and updating the base images, and all of that stuff. App Service is great, because I can just say, here's my code, or Functions is great, just give me my code, and you can go run it. If you're running .NET in the container, you're going to have to go up a little bit further. You're going to have to say, I need something that's going to manage the security of my containers, and know the operating system they're running on. If I'm running a Debian container, or even if I'm running Alpine, there are security vulnerabilities that are in there. Do keep that in mind, because you've still got to do that if you want to run containers. You're not completely out of the whole thing.

What to be Aware of, When Architecting and Designing for Cloud Native

Losio: When we're architecting and designing for cloud native, what is a concern for us? What do developers need to be aware of? Basically, how do we keep the 747 cockpit that we mentioned before, hidden from the devs? Any advice?

Ferreira: I have worked at least in two companies where due to the size and all those "Netflix Problems," we will either run on Kubernetes or in AKS as well. One common problem that I've seen is that when you give access to everything, and all the responsibilities are for developers, they will have extra concerns on the day-to-day job. They have more stuff to learn. You will demand more from them. Usually that creates some problems, because not everyone likes to do that Ops part of the job. It's always a tradeoff. With great power comes great responsibility. That's the way I see it. Because on those organizations, I've always seen by the end, the architecture team, trying to create abstractions on top of those platforms. If you are creating those abstractions, maybe they already exist on the cloud platform that you choose.

Thwaites: I wanted to just bring in the new word that people are going on about, is platform engineering. The idea of the 747 cockpit is what platform engineering build. They build your own internal abstraction on top of Azure. The Kubernetes stuff, they will build their own dashboards, or they'll build their own cockpits. That is useful to them. That 747 cockpit is what they're built to look at. That's their tool. Yes, you hide that away from them but developers need to care about more. They need to care about how they deploy. They need to care about where it's deployed. They need to care about scale. Don't abstract too much away from them. It's a balance. There's no single answer.

Azure AKS vs. Azure App Service

Losio: How do you decide which service you should use between Azure AKS and Azure App Service? Which of the two domains?

Hanselman: I have a whole talk on this. In the talk I use this analogy that I really like, which is well known, it was called pizza as a service. You're having a party, and you're going to have some pizza. One option is you have to bring your own fire, your own gas, your own stove, and friends, conversation, and the stack goes all the way up. Or you could just rent like the actual people, and you could go to a place, they have the pizza. They provide the party room. They could even provide pretend actors to pretend to be your friends. Pizza as a service goes all the way out to software as a service. I could write a fake version of Microsoft Word and run it in a virtual machine, or I could pay 5 bucks a month for Office 365 and everything in between.

To the question, how do you decide between App Service and AKS? You have to ask yourself, do I have an app that I want to scale in a traditional web form way which has knobs going horizontally? I want to have n number of instances, like in a web form, and I want to scale up, those two dimensions? Or do I want something that is more partitioned and chopped up? Where I've got my shopping cart and my tax microservice and my products, and all of the different things can scale multi-dimensionally. Do I have something that's already architected like that? If you have an app right now, like I did, sitting on a machine under your desk, App Service. If you're doing some Greenfield work, or you have something that's maybe a little bit partitioned, and you already have container understanding, put it into a managed Kubernetes service. I think you'll be a lot more successful. It gives you more choice. You can do that in multiple steps.

Reducing Future Maintenance Costs, for a Functions as a Service engineer

Losio: What are the best practices for a Functions as a Service engineer to reduce the future perpetual maintenance costs?

Ferreira: When we are talking about serverless, it's not a problem of all in or nothing. It's important to find the correct scopes for functions and for the rest. From my experience, there's always a place for them, but it's not always the place that maybe you're thinking about. Not every single type of problem can be solved with Functions as a Service.

Scurtu: I've seen a project where they used to have like huge costs caused by functions, because they basically architected it that way. Each function costs a bit to run it. Each function generated an output, that output we used to trigger a few wheels in the system. At the end of the month, the cost was huge. Most of those things could have been replaced with simple smaller components, just to reduce the costs. In the end, if you're not doing flowers and painting things on the walls, you might have very predictable costs even with Azure Functions. It depends what you get after you run the function. That might be the actual issue.

Thwaites: I read something recently, where they were talking about the, yes, your Azure function infrastructure looks a mess, because it's this one column, this one, this one column, this one. However, that's a much more honest analysis of your system, than doing it in a monolith and saying, there's one big thing going in, and one big thing going out. Because actually what's happening is that's the communication that's happening between all of your individual functions in your application. People building these big nanoservice type infrastructures, not functions, the nanoservices, they do really not one domain, they do one little thing. It's like 10 lines of code. When you then architect that entire thing out as Azure Functions, and you get your architects in and they build a big whiteboard thing, it's a more honest description of what your system is actually doing. I liked that idea that actually, no, you should simplify the system. It's like that is your system. It may look complicated, because it is.

Hanselman: I totally agree with everything that you just said. I have a good example also, and this is the difference between cloud ready and a cloud native. When you say cloud native, what does that really mean? People usually think cloud native means Kubernetes, but it really means that the app knows the cloud exists, and it knows all the things are available to it. Using Azure Friday, as an example, simple application, it's an app service, it's a container. It's not rocket surgery. However, it has some background services that are doing work, and they're 10 to 50 lines of code. The Azure Friday app knows that the cloud exists. When a file drops into Azure Storage, triggers fire off, 10 lines of code runs here, background Azure Functions go and run processing in the background. Then it provides microservices to allow for search and cataloguing of the 700 different shows that we have at In the old days, that might have been a background thread in, in a pipeline in App Service. Because I know the cloud's available, and it's pennies to run serverless, I have an application that is both a container app but also a cloud native app in that it knows that a serverless provider exists for it. That's another example where you could move them into the cloud naively, then move to App Service. Then, to Martin's point, say, this weird background thing that we used to run that way, that really belongs over in an Azure Function or a Lambda.

When Moving to the Cloud Makes no Sense

Losio: Basically, we started this discussion saying, we're going to discuss how we're going to move .NET application to the cloud, the different options, whatever. My 20-plus years old application on my server running under my desk, or whatever, my server in my office or wherever that server is. Do I need to move to the cloud? Do you see a scenario where it makes no sense to move to the cloud? If so, which one?

Ferreira: I can remember some cases where I've seen companies avoiding it and completely understand why. Usually, it's because of security or compliance reasons. I have worked for a company where legally they couldn't do it because that data according to the jurisdiction of their country couldn't move to another place. For example, when we are in the European Union, it's quite simple, but then when you start going to other countries, these kinds of problems may happen. On those cases, it doesn't make sense at all. Besides that, I think that if you are not willing to do the investment of taking advantage of things that cloud can give you, maybe you can keep up taking care of your servers for a while. Because if you go into the lift and shift mode, the cost will be quite high. Then you will get into a point where everyone that took the decision of moving to the cloud will regret about that. If you don't want to modernize the applications, I don't see that going well in the long term.

Scurtu: Like COBOL, for example. COBOL, the programming language that appeared 64 years ago, it's easier for systems that were written in COBOL, and it's cheaper to just hire new people, train new people to continue to run them, not moving those to cloud. There will be a time, five years in the future, when these companies will have to be on cloud, just because maybe their code that is old becomes deprecated. The security things will not be supported anymore. I'm not seeing those businesses up and running in the future. They will encounter a problem, when modernization will become an issue, maybe not on cloud, per se, but just to modernize them in a way, whatever that means for them.

Is a .NET App in Azure Service Fabric, Running in the Cloud?

Losio: If I had a .NET app running under Azure Fabric, should it be considered running under cloud?

Hanselman: If it's running in Azure, it's in the cloud. It could be a virtual machine, it's in the cloud. If it's not under your desk, or in someone's colocated hosting, it's in the cloud. Yes, absolutely. Is a fabric or a mesh like that? Is it a cloud service? Absolutely. If it's calling any Azure APIs directly, that's absolutely considered running under the cloud, 100%.

Thwaites: I'd like to follow up on that and ask, why is there a question? It comes back to what we were saying about the goals of running under the cloud. Because that's the sort of question that you get an exec asking, saying, are we running in the cloud? It's like, we've got a VM in Azure, we're in the cloud. Great, tick box on a tender document. Is that what the answer that Billy is looking for is, can I say to my execs that we're running in the cloud?

Hanselman: I think that is what it is. They want to tell their boss, are we in the cloud? Yes. Again, you could be running a $7 Linux VM in Azure, it's still running in the cloud.

Disadvantages of Serverless

Losio: Serverless is not all rosy, there is concern of time period of execution, or run to completion is not guaranteed. When we start breaking down too much, the architecture becomes too cluttered. I think this one doesn't really refer to .NET only. It's a common question about serverless deployment. If any one of you wants to address the point of disadvantage of serverless approaches.

Thwaites: It's about how you design them. I think the way that you avoid a lot of this is by being conscious about your choices. Why is that a function? Is there a reason why you've made it a function over some of the other choices, some other cloud native choices? Is there a reason why you've decided that you want 10 lines of code and a function here, and 10 of them? I consulted for a bank recently, and they were writing nanoservices, literally every function, every HTTP endpoint that they'd created was an individual function app. Because, to Scott's point earlier, they wanted to be able to scale them differently, and maybe migrate them to another App Service because they're all fronted by APIM. Then you look at them and go, why did you make that decision? Because we wanted to be serverless, and everything should be serverless. I think it's that decision making that's the problem. Why should they do that? What is the reason that they're choosing to do serverless? I think it comes down to that same question of cloud. It's because I want to be able to say that I'm serverless. Serverless to me is about elasticity of scale, essentially, infinite scale. I know it's not infinite-infinite. For most intents and purposes, it is. It's also about the scalability of cost, which is why, say serverless databases like Cosmos or DynamoDB, where you pay by the request, those are to me what serverless is about, because if I don't get any hits on my website, I don't pay anything. If I get lots of hits on my website, then I do pay for things. I think, yes, this idea that serverless isn't all rosy comes from too many people choosing serverless for a small function that should have probably just been five or six of them dropped into one container app.

Mainframe Apps in the Cloud

Losio: Someone followed up on Irina's comment on COBOL, saying, there are some frameworks like COBOL .NET, if Microsoft is a big business, they could address them.

Hanselman: There's a whole mainframe migration department. You can basically run mainframe applications in virtual machines in the cloud, which is really interesting. I actually did a couple episodes of Azure Friday on it, with the idea that you've got mainframes mid-range, and then like Solaris and VAX machines running emulated or otherwise, in the cloud. That's really big business. It's super interesting.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Cloud Provider

Losio: How do you choose a provider apart from cost? Usually, from an engineer's point of view, whatever, I might say you're an engineer or an architect, I work for a company that often has already made a choice or is already on the cloud, has a deployment already. Usually, I deploy my .NET app wherever. Do you see any specific reason apart from cost that should be taken into account when you make the decision, if you have that chance to actually make a decision yourself. I keep hearing people talking about cost, but as I'm usually working on the cloud technologies, I often find it hard myself to predict cost. People keep saying, you choose one provider or you choose the other one according to cost of a specific serverless. Martin mentioned about serverless or mixed solution is not just a lift and shift. It's not that easy to predict, if you consider this cluster, if you consider anything else. How do you make a choice? How do you do that first step?

Hanselman: How do you make the decision about what host to go with?

Losio: Yes.

Hanselman: If your needs are simple, and you need to spin up a container for 8 bucks in the cloud, you can do that anywhere. You can pick whatever host makes you happy. There are a lots of people that are ready to spin your $8 container up in the cloud. If you are building an application with some sophistication, and you have requirements, be those requirements, data sovereignty, and you need a cloud in Germany run by Germans, or if you have HIPAA, American health requirements for how your data is treated, then you're going to want to look at the clouds, the certifications. If you are primarily a Linux house, you're going to want to make sure that you've got the tooling that is available, and everything that runs on Linux. If you all run Ubuntu on the desktop, does Visual Studio Code have the extensions that you want to run on the cloud that you're going to want to go to? For me, it's not just the runtime aspect of Azure that makes me happy and why I stay on Azure. It's the tooling. It's the Azure command line, and the plugins for both Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code. You need to look at the holistic thing. If you just want to drive, buy a Honda, buy a Toyota, but people who are really thinking about their relationship with that car company are thinking about, where am I going to go for service when the Honda breaks down? How many different Honda dealers are there? Those kinds of things. It's a little more holistic.

Monitoring a .NET App in the Cloud

Losio: I move my .NET app to the cloud. Next step, monitoring. How do I monitor it? What's the best way to do it?

Thwaites: Monitoring is becoming more of a dev concern. The whole DevOps movement around bringing people together and allowing devs to care about a lot more of this stuff around how their app scale. That's where OpenTelemetry comes in. It all comes down to the whole portability debate. Scott said, if you've got a container, you can run it anywhere. You've also got to think about your monitoring, how exactly you're going to monitor this thing, make sure it's up. Does your cloud provider have built-in monitoring? Are you going to choose an external vendor? That's where OpenTelemetry comes in now, because it's vendor agnostic, and everybody should be doing it. The stuff is stable. It is robust, and allows you to push to anywhere, from Azure Monitor, to X-Ray, to vendors like ours. That is, to me, where this future of how do we ensure that developers can see that their app is running. Because if you deploy your app to Azure, and nobody can hit it because it's down, was there any point in deploying it to Azure in the first place? You need to know these things.

That, I think, is where as a .NET community, we've not done as much to enable people to think about this monitoring stuff. They've seen it as a concern, where they hand it over to somebody else, and somebody else will do monitoring and observability for them. I think we're getting to a point now where everybody's starting to care about it. It makes me really happy that everybody's starting to care about this stuff. I want to know, tell me, is it running fast? Is it running slow? Is it doing the right things? How did this go through that application? How does it transition through the 17 Azure functions that I've written? All of that stuff is really important. I think we're getting to a stage now where people care about it.

Public Cloud Portability

Losio: Could you share thoughts on public cloud portability, containers and Kubernetes are presenting the least common denominator. Basically, is the concern about moving towards managed service, is somehow offset by concern around platform lock-in. Gui, do you have any feedback when to avoid that?

Ferreira: The good thing is that Docker became so common sense in our industry, that even things like App Service will give you a way to run your Docker containers inside it. That's the good news. Besides that, what I always say is that the cloud doesn't remove the job of doing proper work on your code itself. Creating the right abstractions in case you need to move to a different thing, a different SDK, a different something, it's always important. If you are concerned about that, for example, in things like functions, even in functions or serverless, there's ways to abstract yourself from the platform where you are running.

Scurtu: Actually, the thing with vendor lock-in, I've seen it as a concern from the business people, saying, we have this product but we do not want to be locked-in in Azure or in AWS, we want at the moment in time to just move over. I've seen the concern, but I never seen it put in practice. Everyone wants just to be prepared for it, but no one does it ever. I think this is somehow a premature optimization. Like let's do this, because maybe in the future, we're going to switch the cloud provider. I've never seen it. Because major projects with vendor lock-in problems, I don't think it's real.

Thwaites: I've never heard anybody say that they changed database provider.

Hanselman: It's very likely not the runtime that is keeping you there, it's almost always going to be your data. You're going to end up with a couple of terabytes in Azure Storage and you want to move them to S3, or you're going to go with Cosmos and you want to move to Atlas or whatever. It's not going to be your containers, it's going to be your data.

Thwaites: I think you also miss out. You miss out on a lot of the optimizations that you get by developing specifically for Cosmos. You get to use a lot of things that are very specific to the way that Cosmos works. Its indexing systems are very different to Dynamo.

Hanselman: People want to put their finger on the chess piece and look around the board and not actually make the move.

Thwaites: You lose scale. It costs you more money, because you end up going lowest common denominator, as the question said. You go with the, what's the API that both Dynamo and Cosmos support? It's Mongo. We'll go with Mongo, then. There's a lot more that you can do with Cosmos, there's also a lot more that you can do with Dynamo, and the way that they work, if you really lock yourself in.

Hanselman: Azure Arc is a really cool way that you can have Kubernetes running in multiple places, but then manage it through one pane of glass. I could have Kubernetes and AKS in the cloud, and I could have Kubernetes on my local Raspberry Pi Kubernetes cluster, but it would show up in Azure, which means that I could also have Kubernetes running in Google Cloud, or in AWS, but all manage it on one place, which is cool.

The Journey to .NET Apps in the Cloud

Losio: Thinking, from the point of view of an engineer that attended this roundtable, I did it, I enjoyed it. What can I do tomorrow? What's your recommendation of one thing I can do tomorrow to start my journey?

Thwaites: Decide why. Decide why you want to go to the cloud. Set your objectives: cost, efficiency, scale, whatever it is. Set some values that you either want to go up or down. Then, you can make some decisions.

Scurtu: Just make an informed decision, look it up before just deciding on a thing or putting your finger on that.

Ferreira: Get comfortable with a platform. When I say to get comfortable is not to go deeper on it, but give me a first step. There's a different feeling that comes from playing around with things, getting a notion of what it is. Doing a quick tutorial to see how you go from your code to the cloud, can spark a lot of ideas.

Hanselman: Get back to basics. Someone asked me what someone would want to learn in 2023. They thought I was going to say, take a class on this cloud or that cloud. I was actually going to say learn about DNS and HTTP. You would be surprised how many people I've seen with 5, 10 years of experience that can't set up a TXT record, or a CNAME in DNS. Those things aren't changing, so learn the basics. The cloud is implementation detail.

Thwaites: The problem is always DNS, and the answer is always DNS.


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Recorded at:

May 03, 2023