Column: The World according to IT & me
Author: Paul Saunders, Solutions Director, Vistair SystemsSubscribe
Hello again. It’s been a long time since my last column here. Six years to be exact. As you would expect, I’ve been pretty busy in that time and a lot of stuff has happened as it has for everyone. I’ve even spent the last three years outside of aerospace.
I’ve learned a lot in that time. Mainly that the challenges facing other industries are pretty much the same challenges as our own. Fun topics like dealing with distributed teams, migrating to cloud, optimizing processes, shifting to paperless, assuring quality and compliance, moving data from one place to another, squeezing the last drop of usefulness out of assets and finite resources. Sound familiar? More on that stuff in future editions.
The last three years have been spent working with the latest cloud technology and building next-gen SaaS (Software as a Service) apps entirely within a serverless computing framework. Although I’d previously worked on cloud-based apps, they were all using virtual servers which replicated the capabilities of a real server in a virtual sense. Serverless computing represents a radical step forward and disrupts the way we think about building, running and even pricing software. It’s revolutionary stuff. It got me thinking about equivalent revolutions throughout history.
THE SERVERLESS REVOLUTION
At what point in the bronze age do you think that the average person realized they were in the midst of a massive technological shift? When did we start referring to the period between 1760 and 1820 as The Industrial Revolution? I would imagine that a metal smith in Ancient Mesopotamia and a Georgian Industrialist had an understanding that they were working on some ground breaking and cutting-edge stuff, but did they fully appreciate the monumental shift that they were part of? I would suggest that we are in the midst of a technological movement that in the distant future will be considered just as significant as the Industrial Revolution or the Bronze Age, but most people probably know nothing about it.
A GAME CHANGER
Serverless computing is a massive game changer in IT. In a nutshell, serverless computing allows software providers to stop thinking about hardware and focus on building software. Cloud computing allowed us to do that to an extent. But until recently when building or hosting cloud-based software we still had to think about the virtual hardware and its resources for it to run effectively. Virtual servers allowed us to shift the cost of doing so from a capital investment to an operational expense. It gave us greater freedom to flex resources as requirements and demand changed over time. But as software providers we still had to think carefully and deeply about hardware, albeit virtual.
Serverless computing changes that mindset for ever. Now, when software needs to perform a task, instead of competing for resources on a cloud-based virtual machine, that execution is carried out in an isolated computing service that is spun up on-demand and self-destructs when it’s done. This means that scale and cost can be tackled in a completely different way. For end-users this means you can be assured of greater availability, scalability, and flexibility from your SaaS providers. It enables instant capability when previously that was extremely cost prohibitive.
I’d be surprised if your own IT teams, and SaaS providers haven’t already started migrating their services to serverless technology. I know our own team have had a major push toward containerization in recent years and by adopting emerging technology such as Kubernetes and other DevOps innovations they are now able to support new ways of thinking about distributed systems as well as commence the migration from Public Cloud to Private and Hybrid clouds. The pace of change is accelerating. Before the average software user becomes aware of serverless computing, it will be so ubiquitous that nobody will care and we’ll be onto the next revolution. If SaaS providers aren’t already embracing serverless computing, they’ll be assigned to the history books like the Luddites and Stone Age civilizations that went before them. Or at least that’s how I see IT.
*For more information on Serverless tech, I recommend reading the AWS guide to serverless computing https://aws.amazon.com/serverless/ (similar articles are available on other Cloud provider websites)
Paul is a product visionary and geek who’s spent over 20 years in aerospace IT working with airlines, MROs, OEMs and software companies around the world. He believes that much business software sucks and is on a mission to redress that. Currently he’s leading a team of Product Managers, Product Specialists and Project Managers as Solutions Director at Vistair Systems. He spent the last three years outside of aerospace working in the Atlassian ecosystem and is currently banging on about bringing some of that SaaS, cloud and serverless tech into the aviation world.