1. The cloud is changing under our nose according to Packet
5/23/2017 8:03:49 AM
The cloud is changing under our nose according to Packet
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App Developer Magazine
The cloud is changing under our nose according to Packet

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The cloud is changing under our nose according to Packet

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Richard Harris Richard Harris

Mobile app developers still have troubles utilizing cloud and infrastructure solutions to their fullest potential.

We recently sat down with Zac Smith, CEO of Packet to talk about the challenges with existing cloud and infrastructure solutions for the modern app developer. As new and emerging technologies and consumer experiences including IoT, virtual/augmented reality, mobile gaming, drones, and autonomous cars become more common, developers building apps to power these things will need tools that make the process easy and efficient. Zac believes the cloud will look much different five years from now to an app developer and has interesting thoughts on how we get there.

ADM: What is Packet and what is it that you do?

Smith: Packet is a bare metal cloud provider, founded in 2014 and backed by Softbank out of Japan. We provide the experience of deploying infrastructure on Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Digital Ocean, but we deliver dedicated servers instead of virtual machines. This results in a huge performance boost while reducing costs. We currently have four datacenters around the world and are expanding rapidly both in terms of customers and locations.

ADM: What are the biggest challenges with existing cloud and infrastructure solutions facing the modern app developer?

Smith: Thanks to containers, orchestration frameworks, and schedulers like Kubernetes, it's getting easier all the time to deploy and manage apps at scale and in a distributed manner. However, it's still really hard to go global, deal with latency and compliance concerns and control costs in the public cloud. Also, if you're looking to innovate on the network or below the hypervisor, public clouds really don't have much to offer.

ADM: How is a trend towards abstraction of hardware (public clouds, serverless, etc) impacting developers and innovation?

Smith: We find that developers are running into performance bottlenecks that take months of engineering work to get around, but in many cases be easily solved by hardware (such as a faster disk like NVMe or Intel's new Optane technology). However, most developers don't have experience with hardware optimization, and don't have good tools for dealing with bleeding edge stuff. This means they have to wait for public cloud virtual machine instances to evolve, like with GPU's (which can take years and be very expensive).

ADM: What will the cloud look and feel like to an app developer in 5 years and how do we get there?

Smith: An app developer will be able to deploy globally in minutes, and not worry about infrastructure choices or other details. Ideally, it will be like electricity or water - and for a lot of people that means you don't have to worry about power stations or plumbing.
We'll get there by designing an experience that delivers the value locked up in expensive new infrastructure innovations (think FPGA's, new specialty processors, etc) without needing to whip out your datacenter badge and screwdriver. In short, we have to make hardware super easy to deploy, and software needs to be able to consume it easily.
Zac Smith

Zac Smith, CEO of Packet

ADM: How do tools that enable workload portability and open source development make it easier for today's developers who are building apps to power IoT, virtual/augmented reality, real-time mobile gaming, etc.?

Smith: Each of these experiences is defined by their proximity to people, and that means the edge. The problem is: it's hard and expensive to serve compute at the edge. That's why portability is so important - it makes it possible for workload to move around, and to serve users when and where they most need it (and with the most efficiency).

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