Serverless Code, Containers and Beyond: How New Technologies Are Killing Complexity in Managed Services
Once upon a time, delivering software services meant managing a complex stack of hardware and software. Thanks to innovations like low-code programming, containers and serverless computing, that is no longer the case. Here’s a look at how infrastructure management is being revolutionized.
Until about five years ago, every MSP had to understand computer hardware, networking, operating systems, applications and storage. Mastering each of these layers was essential for managing the complex foundations that were required to deploy software.
Today, we’re in the midst of a major change. In many cases, it is now possible to deploy and manage an application without having to worry at all about the underlying hardware and software layers that allow the application to run.
That is because new technologies and architectures have abstracted away much of the underlying complexity in application deployment. For MSPs, these innovations introduce important new opportunities.
Below is a look at some of the most important changes that are taking the complexity out of application deployment.
In a serverless computing architecture, specific chunks of code can be executed on-demand and in a standalone fashion. There is no need to maintain a complete operating system environment, or even install a full application, in order to execute the code.
Thus, serverless computing is serverless in the sense that from the user’s perspective, there is no server to set up or maintain.
Serverless computing presents certain challenges for MSPs. Yet it also provides opportunities by making it possible to deploy applications with minimal fuss. That translates into less time and investment in application deployment and maintenance, and more resources that an MSP can devote to other activities.
Container platforms like Docker (which is the best known but by no means the only container framework) have become popular in part because they enable users to deploy applications without worrying much about which operating system hosts them.
When your application is housed inside a container, you can spin up instances of the container on any server with a container framework installed. You don’t have to worry about installing or configuring an operating system to support the application.
There are certain limitations; the biggest is that a containerized application that is created for one family of operating system (such as Windows or Linux) can run only on that family of operating system. However, the specific version of operating system usually does not matter; a Linux application container can run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux just as well as it can on Ubuntu, for example.
In this way, containers greatly simplify the amount of operating system configuration and management that MSPs need to perform in order to deploy applications.
Low-Code Application Platforms
The low-code programming trend allows organizations to build applications with a minimal amount of coding.
Thanks to low-code application platforms, almost anyone can design and implement an application without having to understand the intricacies of programming.
Low-code applications are another example of a trend that is significantly reducing the amount of time and tedium that is required to achieve value.
The innovations described above highlight how the dirty work is now being taken out of application deployment. The overarching trend today is the abstracting-away of complexity.
This creates a challenge for MSPs, who have less value to add when software management is less complicated. But it also generates new opportunities by offering ways to simplify MSPs’ own operations.