When HTTP was invented, the needs were pretty clear — to ship web pages quickly and reliably from servers to end clientsView in browser »
The New Stack Update

ISSUE 150: Third Time Is a Charm

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“Ask yourself does this iptables rule spark joy?”

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Considering When Choosing a FaaS Offering
Easy, fast development is what people want from a Function as a Service (FaaS). According to our survey, 71 percent of people using serverless architectures said that ease of development is very important when considering a FaaS offering. Fifty-five percent said it is very important to have support from their primary cloud provider when looking at FaaS. Contrast that to the 33 percent that thinks cloud agnosticism is very important, and you realize that being multicloud is almost an afterthought when selecting a product. To our minds, this proves that serverless does not necessarily worship at the altar of multicloud.

Less essential is integration with an IDE, indicating that developers do not need a comprehensive development environment when creating serverless applications. Furthermore, there is little demand for prewritten functions, as only 16 percent said that is very important when selecting a FaaS solution. Given these findings, we do not believe cloud providers will get many new customers based on new product development efforts focused on their FaaS offerings.
What's Happening

This week on The New Stack Analysts podcast, we take a closer look at the appeal of using virtual machines in Kubernetes environments. The discussion was sparked by a popular blog post penned last month by Pivotal Principal Technologist Paul Czarkowski. The problem with basic Docker-styled containers is that they do not offer sufficient security in multitenant environments, where multiple deployments intermingle on the same set of Kubernetes-controlled servers, so we spoke with Czarkowski to learn more of his thinking. In the second half of the podcast, we spoke with Joe Fernandes, Red Hat vice president for cloud platforms, about the commercial implications of this movement back towards VMs.

Kubernetes and the Return of the Virtual Machines

Third Time Is a Charm

When HTTP, the hypertext transfer protocol, was invented, the needs were pretty clear — to ship web pages quickly and reliably from servers to end clients, which back in the early 1990s, was always a home computer. As the web grew and spread onto other platforms, such as mobile devices, and took on new formats, such as streaming video, the packet-switching technology started to hit its limits.

In 2016, we got first word of an update, HTTP/2, which was based on the Google SPDY protocol. The updated version promised faster page load for high latency environments, better responsiveness, and a higher security and privacy bar.

HTTP/3 is the third major version of the protocol and it includes TLS 1.3 and a new transport protocol called QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connection); based on a 2013 protocol originally designed by Google, there are now multiple contributors and companies involved through the Internet Engineering Task Force. Most surprising, HTTP/3 does away with TCP, which has been paired with HTTP since the beginning. TCP, which stands for Transmission Control Protocol, ensures the packets arrive at their destination, ordering retries from the server should one not arrive. This thoroughness has grown problematic in spotty Internet connections, or in cases where the client is handed off from one network to another (say, a mobile device moving between WiFi and a cellular connection). UDP (user datagram protocol) is a suitable replacement; It does not force the retransmission of packets, and, like TCP, it is already installed on most all network stacks, so there is no complicated reengineering to implement a new protocol.

HTTP/2 was slow to gain adoption, probably because the vast majority of servers running today already are equipped with the legacy HTTP. Perhaps time will work more in the favor of HTTP/3.

Airflow, a Workflow Orchestrator for Big Data

A project that came from AirBnB, Apache Airflow is quickly becoming the de facto standard for workflow orchestration. Workflows are defined as code, making them more maintainable, versionable, testable, and collaborative. Airflow provides smart scheduling, database and dependency management, error handling and logging.

Bringing DevOps to the Full Stack at Colonial Life

Benefits provider Colonial Life Agile moved their operations to CI/CD-drive DevOps tools and practices, and we knew that automation was going to be essential to our modernization effort. This allowed them to we to triple the number of builds and do an order of magnitude more deployments in lower environments, moving them from three painful, risky, manual releases to seven automated deployments per year.

Quali: From Infrastructure-as-Code to Environments-as-a-Service

The idea of “infrastructure-as-code” came about as a way to help automate the process of managing and provisioning servers. It still requires a high level of expertise and knowledge. With Cloudshell Colony, released this week in limited, controlled availability, cloud sandbox vendor Quali wants to make it so that anyone, from IT and project managers to developers and DevOps teams, can “govern the use of cloud resources from a single pane of glass,” according to a company statement. In other words, Quali wants to provide the benefits of infrastructure as code without the prerequisite expertise.

Free Serverless Ebook

Experts and visionaries in distributed systems believe serverless technologies are the next evolution of application infrastructure beyond microservices. Leading edge companies have already embraced serverless and have dramatically reduced operational overhead and streamlined the DevOps cycle, while increasing scalability and resiliency. Still, there are many challenges to serverless adoption, such as operational control, complexity and monitoring.

The New Stack’s Guide to Serverless Technologies will help practitioners and business managers place these pros and cons into perspective by providing original research, context and insight around this quickly evolving technology. 

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