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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that more applications will be moving into the cloud at a faster rate than ever. In general, organizations now have a much greater appreciation for IT flexibility and application resiliency.

In fact, a survey of 5,000 business decision-makers, IT decision-makers and app developers conducted by the market research firm Vanson Bourne on behalf of VMware finds 80 percent of respondents said organizations must modernize the technologies they use to develop and deploy software to be more successful. Nearly as many (79 percent) said their organization will not be able to deliver a best-in-class end user experience without successfully modernizing software development processes.

The path to the cloud is varied

In the early days of the cloud, most organizations either developed a monolithic application on the cloud or they lifted and shifted one as is. The most complicated decision when lifting a workload into the cloud was whether to refactor it to run natively on the virtual machine provided by the cloud service provider or leave it as is to continue to run on, for example, a virtual machine from VMware.

As the number of monolithic applications being shifted in the cloud has increased, a third option is now being employed with greater frequency to achieve that goal. Entire monolithic applications are now being encapsulated in containers, which enables them to run on any cloud platform without having to be refactored to run on a specific type of virtual machine. Containerized applications can run on any virtual machine or bare-metal server.

There’s also now also open source kubevirt software that can be employed to encapsulate the virtual machine, along with the monolithic application that runs on it, to enable it to run on a Kubernetes cluster. That approach makes it even faster to lift and shift monolithic applications to the cloud using a Kubernetes platform that is already widely available on any cloud.

Most of the monolithic applications heading into the cloud now were already earmarked to make that transition. What is changing is the way those transitions were to take place. Many IT teams had planned to convert their existing monolithic applications into a set of so-called cloud-native microservices.

That approach breaks modules of code into a set of more easily manageable modules that each have their own application programming interface (API). The idea is that it’s simpler to update and secure individual microservices rather than managing an entire monolithic application. Consequently, the overall IT environment becomes more flexible.

Those microservices can be created using containers that can also make external calls using functions to serverless computing frameworks that handle specific tasks, such as running analytics. Collectively, those capabilities also serve to reduce the overall size of the applications footprint.

MSPs should be on the lookout

While microservices provide a better way to build and deploy software, it’s not too long before IT organizations are overwhelmed by the number of microservices that need to be managed. Many organizations will soon be looking for MSPs that have frameworks in place to help them manage, updates and secure microservices at scale.

Of course, monolithic applications are not going to simply disappear overnight. MSPs should expect to be managing a mix of microservices-based and monolithic applications on behalf of customers well into the next decade. As IT environments become more complex there is no doubt demand for the expertise required to manage IT will increase. The challenge MSPs will face will be finding a way to both attain and retain that expertise at a time when just about every IT organization in the world is going to soon be looking for it as well.

Photo: welcomia / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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