The idea of running the internet out in space may be hypothetical for some, but not for NASA, the U.S. space agencyView in browser »
The New Stack Update

ISSUE 242: Universe-Native Computing

Talk Talk Talk

“It is now imperative that every executive understand what data is being collected and how it can be used to improve our businesses.”

Peter Guagenti, Cockroach Labs
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Backend, Not Frontend Developers, Expected to Increase in Value to Business Over Next 5 Years

The frontend of consumer and business software has lost its allure. Remember when a great user interface or business model would generate revenue and attention? Now, it seems like elegant engineering is the most important criteria for business success.

Backend developers’ value is expected to increase relative to their frontend peers, according to a survey conducted by Lightbend. Eighty-nine percent of data engineers and 81% of software architects believe backend developer’s value to businesses’ will outpace that created by frontend developers. CIOs, CTOs and other IT leaders also understand what systems developers bring to the table. However, since they often interact with other business leaders, IT management may also have a better understanding of how frontend developers support business units in their customer-facing interactions.

Although half of the respondents were developers, we don’t know if they identified as full-stack, mobile, or any other kind of software engineer. That said, JavaScript or HTML are associated with frontend developers, and the programmers in the survey regularly using these technologies were more likely to appreciate the frontend’s relative value.

Most engineers don’t want to be narrowcast, even if they mostly focus on software, data, DevOps, or any of a wide range of specialties. Perhaps there was a time in which frontend developers got more visibility than they deserved, but that time has passed. At least for now, software engineers believe that the cloud, automation, security and other types of architecture they are designing is at the core of what will generate business value in the future. The future may be bright if these developers can remain modest, and provide realistic expectations about the limitations of cloud native driven digital transformation.

What's Happening

Some legacy infrastructures are certainly more difficult than others to shift into cloud native operations. Financial services, for instance, have many regulatory, compliance and data-management challenges, which are further amplified if the company has an especially large international presence.

In this edition of The New Stack Analysts podcast, as part of The New Stack’s recent coverage of end-use Kubernetes, Michael Lieberman, senior innovation engineer, vice president, of Tokyo-based investment services company MUFG (Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group), discusses his company’s journey to scale-out architectures in a microservice and Kubernetes environment in the world of financial services. Alex Williams, founder and publisher of The New Stack, hosted the podcast with co-hosts Cheryl Hung, vice president of ecosystem at Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF,) and Dave Zolotusky, senior staff engineer at Spotify.

One Bank's Path for Moving Deep Legacy Infrastructure into Cloud Native Operations

Universe-Native Computing

One of the basic tenets of the internet is that it provides end-to-end communications. The client requesting data from a server will have a direct connection to that server, in so far as they have a constant stream of packets flowing back and forth between them. This works well on the planet earth where end-to-end communications, at the speed of light over fiber optic cables, keep packet transmission times well under a second, theoretically anyway. Beyond this planet, however, things get trickier, with even the nearest planets. Getting a packet to Mars, for instance, would take, at best, three minutes. And sometimes, end-points in space may not be reachable at all, as they slip behind the moon or some other celestial object blocking the communication path. A whole generation of internet tools was built around getting responses back from a server, or a host, within a certain period of time. They would be useless for building an internet in space.

The idea of running the internet out in space may be hypothetical for some, but not for NASA, the U.S. space agency. The agency has been looking for ways to cut communication costs to satellites and spaceships. Instead of building a new comms system for each mission, it would be great if they could tap into an already existing network, say one across multiple satellites, using the same open source and open standards-based tools. Each satellite becomes a network node in a space. We’re sure Elon Musk is thinking along the same lines for SpaceX.

Good news that Vint Cerf is on the case, so our culture reporter David Cassel wrote Sunday. Back in the 1970s, Cerf co-developed the TCP/IP protocol with Bob Kahn, which became the foundation for all internet communication today. Today, Cerf is Google’s chief internet evangelist, but also a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where since 1998 he’s been working on an “interplanetary internet.” More specifically, he is working on the “Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networking” (DTN) protocol. This protocol can be used to set up “a small store-and-forward interplanetary internet,” that gets around the end-to-end connectivity issue. So DTN is basically like the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), but timed to planetary orbits, rather than the times between when you’d check your e-mail. 

DTN can also be used for more earthbound duties as well, such as far-flung nodes with only intermittent connectivity on edge networks, or as a backup option in case a network gets severely damaged. “You need a protocol that says: ‘Don’t panic! It’s OK, just hang onto it,'” Cerf said.    

Temporal Tackles Microservice Reliability Headaches

With microservices, developers spend too much time writing code to ensure the reliability of their applications, rather than on creating business value for their companies, according to the startup Temporal. Founded by the creators of Uber’s fault-tolerant stateful platform Cadence, the Bellevue, Washington-based venture wants to change that with a fork of the Cadence open source project.

Feature Flagging and Logging: The Perfect Combination for Developers

Developers have an opportunity to innovate faster by combining modern development approaches — like feature flags — with logging for visibility. In this contributed post, Chris Nguyen, chief strategy officer and co-founder of LogDNA, explains why a combination of feature flagging and logging can help you better understand your cloud native applications. 

A Guide to Linux Operating Systems for Kubernetes

Given that you need to install Linux first to run Kubernetes on, which Linux distribution should you run? There are a variety of options you could select from, but there will be implications that flow from the underlying OS you choose. Talos Systems’ CEO Steve Francis offers us a guide to the two tyes of Kubernetes-oriented distributions: Container-optimized OSs, and general-purpose OSs.

On The Road
KubeCon Observability Livestream // NOV. 18  // THE NEW STACK PERISCOPE TV @ 1PM PST


KubeCon Observability Livestream

What’s really observability? The meaning gets lost these days. Honeycomb’s Liz Fong Jones is here to set the record straight. Register now!


KubeCon Pancakes: Immutable Security is Hot

TNS and Accurics will be serving hot cakes and our takes on immutable security — now that’s hot! We’ll cover the latest in securing those critical configurations. Flap jacks on fi-re! Register now!

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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.
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