Skills and security continue to cloud the promise of cloud-native platforms

Even with the relentless rise of cloud computing, there's still a push and pull between on-premises and off-site approaches.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The KubeCon and CloudNativeCon events just wrapped up in Europe, and one thing has become clear: the opportunities are outpacing organizations' ability to leverage its potential advantages. Keith Townsend, who attended the conference, observed in a tweet that "talent and education is the number one challenge. I currently don't see a workable way to migrate thousands of apps without loads of resources. There's more work than people and money."

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Indeed. Information technology gets more complex every day, and there is no shortage of demand for monitoring and automation capabilities the build and manage systems. Cloud-native platforms are seen as remedies for not only improved maintenance, monitoring, and automation, but also for modernizing infrastructure, and achieving faster time to market. At the same time, skills and security of cloud-native systems remain overriding concerns. 

These points were confirmed in a survey of more than 1,300 global respondents from Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu. The survey finds 83% are using either hybrid or multi-cloud, but nearly 50% say lack of in-house skills and limited talent stand in the way of migrating to or using Kubernetes and containers. 

Benefits of cloud-native technologies mentioned include elasticity and agility, resource optimization and reduced service costs. 

Why Go Cloud Native?

  • Improved maintenance, monitoring, and automation (64%)
  • Modernizing infrastructure (44%)
  • Faster time to market (26%)
  • Lower infrastructure TCO (18%)  

Top Benefits of Cloud-Native Technologies for Businesses

  • Elasticity and agility (50%) 
  • Resource optimization (27%) 
  • Reduced service costs (21%) 
  • Faster time-to-market (21%) 
  • Cloud portability (19%) 
  • Developer productivity (19%)   

The survey explored exactly where applications are run. At least 14% of respondents said that they run everything on Kubernetes, over 20% said on bare metal and virtual machines, and over 29% said a combination of bare metal, VMs, and Kubernetes. "This distribution shows how the flexibility of Kubernetes allows organizations to run the same type of workloads everywhere," the report's authors state.

Security continues to be an issue for cloud and Kubernetes users, with 38% of respondents suggest that security is the most important consideration whether when operating Kubernetes, building container images or defining an edge strategy. Tellingly, only 14% report that they've "mastered" security in the cloud native space.

Greatest Challenges to Kubernetes and Container Deployments

  • Lack of in-house skills/limited manpower (48%) 
  • Company IT structure  (38%) 
  • Incompatibility with legacy systems  (32%) 
  • Difficulty training users  (29%) 
  • Security and compliance concerns not addressed adequately  (25%) 
  • Integrating cloud-native applications together  (22%) 
  • Poor or limited support from platform providers or partners  (17%) 
  • Networking requirements not addressed adequately  ( \17%) 
  • Cost overruns  (16%) 
  • Storage/Data requirements not addressed adequately  (16%) 
  • Observability / monitoring requirements not addressed  (15%) 

Among the use cases cited for cloud-native environments, re-architecting proprietary solutions into microservices ranks as the top activity. However, one of the report's contributors voiced caution about the employment of microservices. "If you look at microservices as a panacea, then you're going to be disappointed," says Tim Hockin, principal software engineer for Google Cloud Platform and contributor to the report. "It's a way of organizing teams. Microservices provide a good way of doing that. But if you think it's going to take a bad application and make it good, then you're going to be disappointed. Or if your application is unreliable, or it follows the big ball of mud architecture, then you're also going to have a hard time."  

Top Cloud-Native Use Cases

  • Re-architecting proprietary solution into microservices (19%) 
  • Deploying and testing applications in a CI/CD pipeline (15%) 
  • Moving to an open-source solution (13%) 
  • Managing or enabling a hybrid-cloud setup (11%) 
  • Deploying or managing Kubernetes-as-a-Service (10%) 
  • Orchestrating workloads across a multi-cloud setting (10%) 

Even with the relentless rise of cloud computing, there's still a push and pull between on-premises and off-site approaches. "When people mention the lack of skill as a blocker, the truth is that they are often already in an environment where they are ready to do the next thing but don't have the infrastructural or organizational support to do so," says Ken Sipe, a senior enterprise architect affiliated with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and Edward Jones. "It is also a matter of buy versus build: when buying a solution and associated service, an organization benefits from leveraging external resources and skill set without having to build the capability in-house. When building it in house, the organization can benefit from implementing its engineering discipline, which could be a useful differentiator."

Editorial standards