It’s official: NASA no longer builds spaceships. They’ve outsourced that task. According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, "We're going with commercial partners. NASA is not purchasing, owning and operating the hardware. We're buying the service." Why? Because NASA needs to focus on exploring space, not building the transportation to get there.
It’s the same reason organizations of every kind are taking advantage of cloud computing: Because everyone needs to focus on what they do best. Financial firms need to build accurate risk models, retailers needs to optimize their inventory and researchers need to focus on finding answers around COVID-19. Building IT infrastructure is not their core competency. Instead, these organizations are letting cloud providers, like Microsoft Azure, and analytic vendors, like SAS, provide the best IT infrastructure and analytic applications.
The cloud computing industry has been going through a massive technology renaissance behind the scenes. New ways to provision and orchestrate cloud computing resources has exploded in recent years. Technologies like containers and Kubernetes dominate the landscape. Don’t worry if you don’t know what those things are. In short, they let cloud providers pack more compute resources into less hardware, make software more reliable and easier to manage. In fact, the technology has been so well received, that IT groups are applying these same cloud lessons to their existing on-premises data centers.
These are not minor changes – the technology is called “cloud native,” and it’s a big deal. Of course, the term cloud native has a formal definition from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), but to really understand, let’s consider a few key characteristics of cloud native systems: They’re loosely coupled, resilient, observable and manageable services that run in containers, on the cloud, and use an orchestration tool (called Kubernetes) to keep it all together.
If applications are designed this way, entire enterprise software applications can be broken into compact functional pieces called microservices and are placed in containers that don’t “install,” they turn on. They talk to each other, are portable and can move from cloud to cloud. They can be accessed by outside applications through an application programming interface (API) and each piece can be easily replaced, updated independently, frequently and can scale across tons of computing resources. This all happens in the background while people continue to work without interruption.
Because a cloud-native analytic application can span potentially thousands of computers and host even more users, it’s able to fully exploit the promise of cloud. This shift is a game changer for computing in general, and because of their compute-intensive nature, analytic applications specifically.
A complicated landscape
These cloud infrastructure technologies have been maturing over time, so if you were to survey the landscape of analytic vendors and open-source technologies that run on top of them, underneath you’ll find a complicated mix of cloud-native and not so cloud-native characteristics.
Some applications use only a few elements. Some are still reliant on virtual machines with host operating systems. Some can’t scale or are exclusive to just one cloud provider. This chaos exists because most applications must either be built from the ground-up with these new cloud technologies in mind (with capabilities that are likely immature or incomplete) or be reengineered to support these new paradigms (which can be a huge undertaking). Many IT organizations are now struggling to address these gaps in their analytic ecosystem as they journey to the cloud.
Meet a true cloud native: SAS Viya 4
What’s so exciting about the next release of SAS Viya is that we’ve re-engineered our software to make it truly cloud native with a container and Kubernetes-based architecture. Our customers will enjoy the same industry-leading AI and machine learning capabilities they have in SAS Viya now, but with a new architecture redesigned for today’s cloud.
You’ll be able to run it on the public or private cloud provider of your choice. Integrate with your cloud provider services. Move your compute closer to your data. We’re working to check all the boxes, and it will be ready for prime time later this year.
This evolution will free our customers to explore new ways of controlling costs, and have reliable, predictable, scalable analytics available to everyone. Whether you’re a government agency, bank, health care company or manufacturer, we’re working to serve up a truly cloud-native analytics platform, so that -- like NASA outsourcing their space ships -- you can focus on doing what you do best.
To learn more, visit: www.sas.com/viya