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We spoke to many professionals in the cloud native computing space about changes they are seeing in usage, as COVID-19 alters the way we use these systems. View in browser »
The New Stack Update

ISSUE 212: Scale Up, Scale Out

Talk Talk Talk

“A lot of security teams have bad reputations because they have been ‘no, no, no,’ but instead, there should be an agreement upfront that as long as standards are followed and vulnerabilities of a predetermined level are not passed through the build process, developers can continue their sprints without delay.”

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Matt Chiodi, chief security officer of Public Cloud at Palo Alto Networks
Add It Up
Plans to Spend More on Tech Tools

Will IT spending increase or decline because of the COVID-19 economic slowdown? Will IT be hurt by macroeconomic conditions, or will it benefit from the move to remote working? The answer changes day-by-day. Our assessment as of today is that short-term and long-term spending on security, cloud and software enabling work-from-home (WFH) will offset declines due to lay-offs and a bad economy.

In the face of a recession, companies have tightened the reins on spending and accelerated layoffs, especially at tech startups that have not secured long-term funding. Last week, IDC predicted a 2.7% drop in IT spending this year due to delayed spending on new projects and the end of a refresh cycle for PCs. Based on a March survey of IT executives by Enterprise Technology Research, tech budgets will be flat in 2020; in this scenario declines in spending due to COVID-19 are balancing out what had been significant increases in companies’ original IT budgets. Timothy Prickett Morgan summarizes this view when saying that the IT sector can weather the pandemic storm.

Conventional wisdom has actually moved towards estimates of increased tech spending. Indeed, a March survey of IT decision-makers by S&P Global’s 451 research found that 34% expect to spend more on IT resources and assets due to the coronavirus outbreak, with only 4% seeing declines. The largest companies in this study expect the largest increases in spending on specific types of technology tools: 63% of respondents at companies with more than a billion dollars of revenue expect increased spending on employee communication/collaboration and 46% see more spending on information security tools like VPNs.

Many other surveys are also predicting increased technology spending to support working from home. Forty percent of software buyers/users expect software spending to increase because of COVID-19, while only 18% expect declines, according to a survey conducted by technology peer review site TrustRadius March 18 and 19. Junior-level employees were more likely to be positive on spending, while more seasoned respondents are more likely to have a wait-and-see outlook. Its competitor G2′s survey of “B2B workers” found that 47% expect employer’s software spending to change in response to COVID-19 with only 12% expecting a decrease. Both sites have seen significant increases in traffic from people evaluating remote work-related tools. We have to take the data from these sites with a grain of salt, because respondents are more likely to be narrowly focused on their recent evaluations of Zoom and its many virtual meeting alternatives.

What's Happening

Three years in the software industry is like a score in the rest of the world. It’d seem futile to write a book because, by the time it’s published, it’s outdated. But for Kris Nóva, who co-authored “Cloud Native Infrastructure” back in 2017, much of it still rings true today. After all, when you take a step back from the brands and the tooling, the transparency-focused culture and the declarative infrastructure is still the same.

In this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast we talk to Nóva, chief open source advocate at Sysdig, about the progression of the open source world and her perspective examining it through the lens of San Francisco’s COVID-19 lockdown. She calls the book she wrote with Justin Garrison a kind of thesis that looks to predict the infrastructural patterns that could solve a lot of the challenges cloud native infrastructure teams face.

Scale Up, Scale Out

Over the past week, we’ve spoken to a number of professionals in the cloud native computing space, as well as those in the software development, about what changes they are seeing in network and application usage, as COVID-19 alters the way we use these systems.

Apurva Joshi, vice president of products at DigitalOcean, noted that the cloud service has seen a considerable increase in usage, especially from customers offering video streaming and gaming services for folks stuck at home waiting out the pandemic. These users are spinning up more compute instances to meet this demand. “We usually plan our capacity six months in advance, but the current, unexpected situation has forced us to fast-forward our usual process. For example, we’ve added more capacity to our data centers than usual to make sure our customers are not facing interruptions,” he said

We are learning that scale-out technologies, such as Kubernetes, can help an organization more easily meet this increased demand. Video teleconferencing service 8x8, for instance, saw a 50-fold increase in its traffic as the pandemic stretched around the globe. Most organizations can squeeze two to three times the capacity from their current systems, but 8×8 had to go to 350 times the norm — to serve about 150,000 new users a day. Kubernetes ensured that there was no single point of failure and that bottlenecks could be eliminated through scaling out. “If properly architecturally implemented, you can scale horizontally. That allows you to handle the load and have high uptime and availability,” 8×8 Chief Product Officer Dejan Deklich told The New Stack.

Michael Ferranti, vice president of marketing at container-native storage company Portworx, also saw a number of Portworx’s customers scaling up with Kubernetes to meet demand, especially in the retail and gaming industries. “The nice thing about Kubernetes is that it’s basically a scale-out model, so they don’t have to re-architect the application in order to hit that demand, they just need to add more servers,” he said.

Another helping factor is automation. Fortunately, 8x8 “invested tremendously in automation,” Deklich said, which helped when the company saw its explosion in demand. It follows the design rule that if you do it once, you do it by hand; but anything more than once needs automation. IT automation software provider SaltStack agreed with this assessment as well. Software reliability engineers have been able to more-or-less smoothly scale-up servers and applications through automation, noted Thomas S. Hatch, founder and chief technology officer of SaltStack.

But not every layer of the stack is so easily scalable. One relatively new challenge for SaltStack engineers has been with network automation, Hatch pointed out. “One of the bottlenecks that they’ve been running into is network automation. There’s a lot of work that has to be done around those network switches. So that’s one of the areas [where] a lot of our network management components have been really useful for people,” he said.

What are you, or your customers, seeing on the front lines of service fulfillment in the time of COVID-19? Drop us a line at editorial@thenewstack.io.

Chip Childers Takes Executive Director Role at Cloud Foundry

The Cloud Foundry Foundation has announced that its long-time chief technology officer, Chip Childers, is assuming the role of executive director as of April 2. He is replacing Abby Kearns, who has accepted an executive role elsewhere, according to the organization.

How to Protect Your Virtual Meetings from Zoombombing

Imagine, if you will, you’re participating in a Zoom meeting and, out of nowhere, a participant starts shouting epithets, displaying offensive content, and just generally disrupting your meeting. This is happening now with Zoom meetings. This trend is called “Zoombombing” and it’s become quite the rage. Here are a few ways to guard against it.

MIT Is Making an Open Source Ventilator for the COVID-19 Crisis

An MIT-affiliated team of expert volunteers have released designs for an open source "Emergency Ventilator" that was developed as a prototype a decade ago as part of a class called Medical Device Design. Built using parts that cost about $100 at the time, today it would only cost about $500 in components, versus $30,000 for a new machine. Despite it being mothballed years ago, a new interdisciplinary team of scientists, doctors, engineers and software developers are currently coalescing around the project to revive and update it for the COVID-19 crisis, and are now seeking FDA approval for the project's latest reincarnation as a cost-effective life-support device that can be massively deployed.

On The Road
DataStax Virtual Pancake & Podcast Breakfast// APRIL 14, 2020 // VIRTUAL @ 10AM - 11AM PDT

APRIL 14 // VIRTUAL @ 10AM - 11AM PDT

DataStax Virtual Pancake & Podcast Breakfast

Cassandra and Kubernetes: Engineering the Cloud Native Data Plane

Data follows Kubernetes wherever it runs. The new wave of cloud native application development means accessing data anywhere — and speed, scale and consistency is what matters most. Highly available, scale-out databases such as Apache Cassandra have evolved to tackle data consistency, portability and persistence in a hybrid, cloud native world. Join Sam Ramji, DataStax chief strategy officer, and leading technologists to learn about what the future data plane for Kubernetes will look like and new considerations for managing application data across cloud environments. Plus, you’ll get the insider scoop on DataStax’ new open source software strategy. Tweet @thenewstack with your questions. Register for FREE now!
The New Stack Makers podcast is available on:
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Technologists building and managing new stack architectures join us for short conversations at conferences out on the tech conference circuit. These are the people defining how applications are developed and managed at scale.
Copyright © 2020 The New Stack, All rights reserved.


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