With the dominance of today's hyperscale cloud providers (Amazon, Google, and Microsoft), it's amazing to think that they had to spend years in the early stages of the virtualization movement convincing the world that public cloud could be a reliable, secure, and trustable business model. But they succeeded, and along the way, they formed alliances with specialized providers up and down the technology stack to offer a complete range of services for companies looking to run their operations in someone else's cloud.
They've built tremendous power structures, and the allure of providing a complete cloud stack combined with extremely low introductory pricing is too strong for many fledgling organizations to resist. But the honeymoon doesn't last. Successful startups need to scale, and introductory pricing expires. And then the bills for hyperscale-market-rate services start coming in. Growing companies find themselves contractually locked in, forced to pay for services they don't need from vendors they don't want to work with in exchange for cloud access their business can operate without.
Thankfully, the industry has evolved beyond the hyperscaler paradigm, and the world is taking notice.
The Composable Cloud Movement Takes Root
There's a growing ecosystem of vendors that rejects interdependencies within the hyperscaler cloud stack and the resulting lock-in that stifles innovation. The composable cloud movement enables businesses to select vendors that live by a set of pro-innovation principles: freedom of choice, scalability, flexibility, and affordability. By embracing a composable approach to the cloud tech stack, these vendors offer businesses a formidable alternative to the hyperscaler cloud habit.
Guiding the way toward composability is the MACH Alliance, a not-for-profit industry group that certifies vendors that demonstrate a sustained commitment to an open, best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystem and follow the composable cloud approach. These vendors provide offerings at all layers of the cloud stack, including the infrastructure (IaaS), platform (PaaS), and application or service (SaaS) layers, that conform to these four tenets of composability:
1. Every component must be modular; there can be no monoliths.
Composable cloud requires a discrete set of microservices, and each microservice can be packaged as its own container that can be independently deployed and scaled in the runtime environment.
2. Every component must be atomic.
Atomic components in composable cloud form the basic building blocks — or the smallest unit of value — that can be encapsulated to deliver a discrete outcome when called.
3. There are no dependencies among components.
If a customer chooses to use a particular containerized service, they can use that component independent of any other component they may or may not choose to use.
4. All components must be individually and collectively orchestratable.
When a customer chooses to mobilize any number of containers, all of the containers must organically work together. Every component has to be fully autonomous and discoverable, and each must expose what it is, what it does, and what inputs it needs.
The Composable Cloud Provides Flexibility and Customization
Composability rejects interdependencies among components and services. With absolute modularity, the composable cloud offers customers unmatched flexibility to assemble and reassemble on demand the cloud stack components that best satisfy their needs, without vendor lock-in. In this way, customers can select new vendors at any time without being financially penalized or hindered in their cloud operations.
Customers can manage all the layers in their composable cloud stack through a container registry, a web-based marketplace of prebuilt Kubernetes PaaS and SaaS containers. Customers can access the registry through a single interface, simplifying the selection of infrastructure, tools, and code they require, making applications easy to build, move into production, and optimize. Customers can select developer tools, application services, and development kits to handle software, runtime environments, database services, middleware, load balancing, application performance monitoring, application security, traffic management, application acceleration, and more — all with the competitive pricing that choice allows.
Further Advantages of a Composable Cloud
In addition to flexibility and customization, the composable cloud provides customers with additional advantages that the hyperscalers don't want to offer:
- Cost Efficiency: The composable cloud ensures that customers pay only for the components and services they want instead of being forced to pay for those they may never use.
- Multicloud Capability: The composable cloud allows customers to select their preferred vendors, components, and services and to change them at any time. This includes the infrastructure layer, the foundation of the hyperscalers' offerings.
- Future-Proofing: The composable cloud offers flexibility by design, which liberates and empowers customers to pivot to new providers as their business grows and their needs and the market change.
Composable Cloud Is the Next Great Cloud Evolution
Composable cloud is a concept whose time has come, and everyone is starting to take notice. Gartner predicts that by 2026, the top 20 cloud platform and software-as-a-service providers will offer component marketplaces that enable customers' composable strategies.
For now, though, the hyperscalers will move to composability as slowly as possible. They'll talk a good game about embracing the tenets of the composable movement, but they'll do as little as they possibly can to destabilize the position of power they currently occupy in the cloud marketplace.
But as awareness of the composable cloud model grows, fewer businesses will get hooked on the hyperscaler habit and the constraining contracts that force them to pay for components and services they don't want or need. The sea change will force the hyperscalers' hands, and the customers will be the beneficiaries. But today's startups don't need to wait for the hyperscalers to concede; they can tap into the convenience of the composable cloud today, free from the hyperscaler stranglehold to pursue breakthrough innovation enabled by the next evolution of the cloud tech stack.
About the author:
Kevin Cochrane is chief marketing officer at Vultr.