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Technology Why Kubernetes is our modern-day COBOL, says a tech expert

04:10  11 june  2021
04:10  11 june  2021 Source:   techrepublic.com

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So what's our modern - day COBOL ? For Loukides, the answer is clear. It's Kubernetes : [C]ompanies are moving applications to the cloud en masse. If Kubernetes is replaced by something simpler (which I think is inevitable), who will maintain the infrastructure that already relies on it? What happens when learning Kubernetes isn't the ticket to the next job or promotion? The YAML files that configure Kubernetes aren't a Turing-complete programming language like Python; but they are code.

Kubernetes is a powerful container management tool that automates the deployment and management of containers. Kubernetes (k8’s) is the next big wave in cloud computing and it’s easy to see why as businesses migrate their infrastructure and architecture to reflect a cloud-native, data-driven era. Getting started with Kubernetes ? Try out the Practical Guide to Kubernetes and start running production grade clusters. Outlined in this post are some of the top reasons why you should use Kubernetes and when you should/shouldn’t use it. Container orchestration. Containers are great.

Today we have a COBOL problem, with lots (and lots) of old code hanging around with fewer (and fewer) people who know how to handle it. COBOL was once the "in" infrastructure, running the backend systems of scads of financial institutions and governments. Now we've moved on.

Image: Lisa Hornung, iStock © Provided by TechRepublic Image: Lisa Hornung, iStock

In like manner, Mike Louikides, vice president of content strategy at O'Reilly Media, has suggested that our industry's next "COBOL moment" will likely involve Kubernetes. Over time, he noted, Kubernetes will inevitably be replaced by something simpler, leaving us to answer the question: "Who will maintain the infrastructure that already relies on it?"

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  StormForge survey finds you can waste a lot of money deploying Kubernetes to the cloud A great deal of time and money is wasted on the cloud with poorly done Kubernetes implementations.Now, it's not that companies have an unrealistic view of what they're going to be spending. Ninety-four percent say they know, at least roughly, what their cloud spend will be each month. That's the good news. The bad news is they also estimate that nearly half of their cloud spend is wasted on unused or idle resources. That's no way to make friends and influence others in your company's accounting department.

Since when did COBOL get cool again? The reality that COBOL still runs a significant amount of our world has been sorely exposed by the COVID-19 crisis. COBOL is at the root of Social Security, Veteran Affairs, state unemployment systems, ATM swipes, and many other critical applications. Interestingly enough though, this science experiment of running a simple COBOL application on Kubernetes shows off the power of Kubernetes , and how generic COBOL or any computer development language can run in an isolated containerize environment. What you will learn.

Cybersecurity experts at Microsoft have shared details about a new campaign that is attacking Kubeflow workloads to deploy malicious pods in Kubernetes clusters that are then used for mining cryptocurrency. In a blog post, Yossi Weizman, Senior Security Research Engineer, Cloud Security Research, from Microsoft’s Israel Development Center, explains that they spotted the campaign late in May intrigued by a spike in deployments of TensorFlow pods in various Kubernetes clusters.

  Why Kubernetes is our modern-day COBOL, says a tech expert © Image: Oleg Mishutin, Getty Images/iStpckPhoto

SEE: From start to finish: How to deploy an application with Kubernetes (TechRepublic Premium)

Infrastructure as code

This "COBOLization" of code isn't endemic to all software. For example, Loukides uses Fortran to draw a distinction between code that creates long-term maintenance issues, and code that does not:

Fortran and COBOL are used in fundamentally different ways. While Fortran was used to create infrastructure, software written in Fortran isn't itself infrastructure….Nobody cares anymore about the Fortran code written in the 60s, 70s, and 80s to design new bridges and cars. Fortran is still heavily used in engineering—but that old code has retired. Those older tools have been reworked and replaced….[I]f all the world's Fortran programmers were to magically disappear, these libraries and applications could be rebuilt fairly quickly in modern languages—many of which already have excellent libraries for linear algebra and machine learning.

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Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation. It has a large, rapidly growing ecosystem. Kubernetes services, support, and tools are widely available. This provides a way to illustrate the issues facing Kubernetes users. Security, Storage, Networking Among Top Challenges. The results show that complexity — a common criticism of Kubernetes — is only the fifth most cited challenge.

I would say Kubernetes is becoming the new Application Server, but not for anything listed in the article. Kubernetes is more and more being sold to "enterprise" as a solution for running services much like Application servers were, and much like application servers the standard Kubernetes deployment is becoming a tangled mess of buzzwords and dreams, which work great in a demo, but won't work If the former, I'd say there are many tech startups who would disagree, or at the very least, point out that it doesn't matter because they'd cease to exist during those 2 months without an MVP in production.

Infrastructure code is different. COBOL code written in the 1960s might still be in use--it's infrastructure we build upon. Fortran code, as indicated by Loukides, isn't treated the same way.

So what's our modern-day COBOL? For Loukides, the answer is clear. It's Kubernetes:

[C]ompanies are moving applications to the cloud en masse. In addition to simple lift and shift, they're refactoring monolithic applications into systems of microservices, frequently orchestrated by Kubernetes….

[I]t's a safe bet that many of these systems will still be running 20 or 30 years from now; they're the next generation's "legacy apps." ...Kubernetes configuration is complex, a distinct specialty in its own right. If Kubernetes is replaced by something simpler (which I think is inevitable), who will maintain the infrastructure that already relies on it? What happens when learning Kubernetes isn't the ticket to the next job or promotion? The YAML files that configure Kubernetes aren't a Turing-complete programming language like Python; but they are code. The number of people who understand how to work with that code will inevitably dwindle, and may eventually become a "dying breed." When that happens, who will maintain the infrastructure?

Where is IBM’s hybrid cloud launchpad?

  Where is IBM’s hybrid cloud launchpad? IBM is not the only major technology provider that has embraced hybrid and multicloud. But with vertical industry clouds, IBM could have a unique strength.We termed the new era, not as "The Cloud Default," but "The Hybrid Default," because, as enterprises got beyond those obvious born-in-the-cloud use cases to the foundational systems that keep the lights on, that their cloud decisions would have to grow more nuanced. They want the operational simplicity that cloud-native deployment can convey. In some cases, the public cloud would be the right path, but for many cases, they would need to find a way to make it work on-premises. And that's where we pick up the tale of IBM.

Kubernetes is inspired by Borg, which has relatively few clusters of relatively large numbers of machines. That's the direction I want it to go. That said , I see both modes in the wild (and everything in between) and for mostly good reasons. Upstream kernels are not perfect at isolation (help wanted). So there's a natural tension in the project which is we either leverage existing service mesh technology , or invent our own worse alternatives. So I'm a bit more bullish than Tim on service mesh in Kube, but we'll always be flexible.

The Kubernetes community is currently working on a feature called ingress. It will make it possible to configure an external load balancer directly from Kubernetes . Currently, this feature isn’t really usable yet because it’s simply not finished. Besides data stores and our HAProxy servers, everything else does run in Kubernetes , though, including our monitoring and logging solutions. Why we're excited about our next year with Kubernetes . Looking at our deployments today, Kubernetes is absolutely fantastic.

This isn't cause for alarm. Most organizations are focused on modernizing their existing systems, rather than peering 10 to 20 years into the future, worrying about talent shortages that might eventually catch up with their decisions. And, arguably, companies are making a smart decision when they build with an industry standard like Kubernetes. Yes, Kubernetes wil one day be legacy, with all the talent shortages that come with it. But today, organizations are more concerned by existing shortages in Kubernetes talent as they seek to embrace containers-enabled, microservices-driven architectures.

Which perhaps is the lesson to take from this: build as much agility into your current infrastructure as possible, and let the future take care of itself. Expedia technology VP Subbu Allamaraju put it this way, speaking of a similar mentality that infects those who want to preserve maximum infrastructure freedom by hedging cloud with data center investments: "To be successful at scale in a hybrid architecture and maximize customer value, cost efficiency and agility requires you to make a large number of technical, people and process decisions upfront years before needed. Even if you can afford this, you're [un]likely [to] get these right."

Pure Storage updates Portworx Enterprise with new integrations

  Pure Storage updates Portworx Enterprise with new integrations Pure is also updating Pure1 Digital Experience with new automated monitoring and AI-driven recommendation capabilities. It also features self-service management and digital procurement. The idea is to give IT teams more control over their environments, as well as ways to get ahead of problems. Pure1's AI-engine Meta, which delivers predictive service management, now identifies gaps in your strategy for safeguarding data. It does so by assessing ransomware protection, predictive fault analysis and resolution with analytics gathered from across the Pure ecosystem and with other capabilities.

SEE: Kubernetes: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Or heed Duckbill analyst Corey Quinn's counsel on this same topic: "By building for a theoretical exodus, you pay for optionality with feature velocity, and reduce your chances of getting to a position where the cloud costs even matter to your business's overall success."

In sum, yes, today's hot Kubernetes cluster is likely tomorrow's COBOL-esque legacy infrastructure. But, to misquote the Bible, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the legacy infrastructure thereof."

Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the views expressed herein are mine.

Also see

  • COBOL remains alive and well, despite its age (TechRepublic)
  • COBOL programmers are in demand to fight the coronavirus pandemic (TechRepublic)
  • Kubernetes: What no one tells you, but you need to know (TechRepublic)
  • Kubernetes security guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
  • Kubernetes: Ultimate IT pros guide (TechRepublic Premium)
  • New Relic brings instant Kubernetes observability into New Relic One (ZDNet)
  • DevOps: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

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