ARCHITECHT Daily: Kubernetes is a big deal, but an overlooked one

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ARCHITECHT Daily: Kubernetes is a big deal, but an overlooked one
By ARCHITECHT • Issue #87
Before we start, a public service announcement: If you’re new to the newsletter, be sure to also check out the ARCHITECHT Show podcast for interviews with very smart people about AI, cloud computing and more. You can find all things ARCHITECHT at
Containers are a funny thing, in that they receive quite a bit of attention and often get talked about as “the future of” something (infrastructure, often, or application development), and yet they’re somehow still an overlooked technology. Most people who aren’t actively building containerized applications or running containerized infrastructure know Docker and Kubernetes—at least as the two most popular technologies in the space—but beyond that everything seems to get a little bit fuzzy.
This is a little surprising for a set of technologies that some people believe will underpin the corporate digital transformations we hear so much about, and the help flatten the cloud computing landscape by making applications more portable. When cloud computing began taking off about a decade ago, people immediately understood what it was Amazon Web Services was trying to do. Then, and even today—with cloud in some ways the legacy technology being disrupted—people followed AWS and its competitors like hawks and had opinions on every new service they rolled out.
I chalk some of the lack of knowledge (or maybe just excitement) around containers up to a a handful factors, some of which include:
  • The open source nature of the space.
  • The startup-heavy market.
  • The (early on, at least) developer-centric adoption of Docker.
  • The fact that it’s actively pushing a new type of application architecture.
On the last point, I think AWS was so successful early on not just because it was doing something new, but because it was doing something new that people understood. Servers, databases and storage are things with exact analogs in the legacy world, with which everyone had experience. Less so when you’re talking about microservices, distributed tracing and cluster management.
The fact that so much of the cloud discussion focused around a small group of relatively large companies, organizations (including OpenStack) and approaches was helpful, too. On the other hand, I could rattle off about 30 different companies, open source projects and foundations in the container space, many of which play fundamental roles in building applications.
(I’m happy to delve more into these via email, Twitter or wherever.)
This is all a long windup to my actual points: Containers will matter a lot to how companies build, and buy, applications and infrastructure. Kubernetes, in particular, is a project that has the backing and the vision to become a platform for many new applications over the next several years. And while it’s challenging to keep up with everything that’s happening in the container/microservices space, I think it’s a good idea to try, at least enough to get a sense of where things are going.
I think one of the biggest things we’ll see rather shortly is that containers are going to underpin a new style of “platform as a service,” which many people (Google and Microsoft, included) initially viewed as a superior delivery vehicle for cloud resources over infrastructure as a services. This is a pretty common sentiment among folks in the container world, but one that I haven’t seen discussed too frequently in more mainstream circles.
With that in mind, here are some news items from today, and writeups of news items from last week, that help illustrate this shift, as well as the growing popularity of containers:
P.S. Tomorrow’s podcast guest is Alex Polvi, co-founder and CEO of CoreOS. Listen to hear a lot more about what’s up with Kubernetes and containers, and why he thinks they’ll be so revolutionary.

Sponsor: Cloudera
Sponsor: Cloudera
Artificial intelligence
The discussion about AI achieving human-level (beyond human-level, really) intelligence carries on, but it seems like it’s moving beyond some of the fear-mongering that used to generate so many headlines a year or two ago. I much prefer the discussion about what it really means for machines (and even humans) to have human-level or human-like intelligence, and what that will mean for our society over the coming decades. Here are some of the better stories and research papers on the topic from the past week or so:
This, in particular, is great marketing advice for startups: “There are 20,000 people in the world who understand what feature engineering is. Once you say that, you’ve lost your audience.” The rest of the post has some good advice, too.
This is a good discussion about what we hath wrought via years of abusing consumer privacy online. An increasingly popular application of AI is to use it to anonymize other applications of AI in an effort to make people feel more secure.
HBR takes on the benefits of AI for companies, assuming we’re working with a broad definition of AI. Some of these are cliche by this point, but fraud detection, predictive maintenance and supply-chain optimization are legit applications that can have immediate financial benefits.  •  Share
Quantum computing is becoming the most interesting race in technology right now, if only because it involves Microsoft, Google and IBM, as well as a bunch of startups, battling to prove it’s even feasible commercially. I had a good interview with Geordie Rose, former D-Wave CTO, about this recently, which will air on the podcast in a couple weeks. Stay tuned.
Researchers from MIT and Cornell demonstrated that deep learning can work even with low-quality, or noisy, data. The trick: having enough of it to cut through the noise.  •  Share
This type of research will prove invaluable if you believe that the future isn’t all machines, but rather machines and humans working together.  •  Share
Sponsor: DigitalOcean
Sponsor: DigitalOcean
Cloud and infrastructure
Is Salesforce integration and consulting a hot area for startups to target? Maybe we’re talking more about funding smallish businesses that can help people use Salesforce, which would be a better idea.
Speaking of people obsessing over every little move of the big cloud providers … Extended memory is a pretty cool capability, though.
Neither has been on a roll lately. If they can find common success by integrating their security products, the more power to them.  •  Share
This is a pretty fair assessment of why companies still run data centers, and when it makes sense to move to the cloud. It should go without saying that on-prem workloads will be with us for decades to come.
I just came across this company because of some work it’s doing with car manufacturers around sharing vehicle data. The marriage of Blockchain and scalable databases sounds promising.
Media partner: GeekWire
Media partner: GeekWire
All things data
This seems like an interesting product. I’d be curious to know how well it plays with Kafka and what Confluent it building, and how competitive it is.
I take these stats from Mary Meeker’s presentation with a grain of salt, mostly because there’s no natural reason to give data to companies like Amazon or IBM. Google and Apple sell phones and personal devices.
This is kind of cool in theory, but I think I’m burned out on the sports data trend. It’s great for coaches and executives, and perhaps players, but it can make it difficult for fans to be in the moment.
I’m guessing cities view this as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s a lot more data now to help them figure out how people move and how they might ease that movement. On the other hand, there’s a lot more data.  •  Share
The headline says it all, at least in terms of the impressive results during this experiment. I suspect production applications might require a slightly different setup.
Probably a fair argument depending on what you’re doing with your data. Does this apply to Azure and Google Cloud, too?
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