The Server Side | September 6, 2017

Cloud-native tooling for managing loosely coupled systems evolving

There’s a lot of talk about how the application server is dead. But the trend seems to be quite the opposite when one looks at the management tool suites cloud-native developers are putting together. Managing loosely coupled systems made of up containers and microservices is complicated, and the tool suites coming from that segment of the industry sure look a lot like an application server.

“Has the traditional, heavyweight app server gone away? Yes,” said Sinclair Schuller, CEO and co-founder of Apprenda. “Take older products, like a WebLogic server or something to that effect. You don’t see them used in new cloud-native development anymore.”

Orchestrating loosely coupled systems 

But while the industry may be long past peak WebSphere and peak WebLogic, new tools for managing loosely coupled systems are emerging. “What’s going to happen — and we’re seeing this for sure — is there’s a collection of fairly loosely coupled tooling that’s starting to surround the new model, and it’s looking a lot like an app server in that regard.” 

Schuller does take issue with the assertion that there will be significant consolidation in the industry. “If there is one spot where I would disagree is that I don’t know if there’s going to be consolidation,” Schuller said.

Schuller seems to like the degree of innovation and competition that is currently happening as organizations build loosely coupled systems with microservices and containers, believing that best-of-breed solutions provide for a better future. “If there isn’t consolidation and this tooling stays fairly loosely coupled and fragmented, then we have a slightly better outcome than the traditional app server model. We have the ability to use best-of-breed, piecemeal tooling the way we need it.” 

Future of cloud-native administration

So, whether the application server is actually dead is up for debate, with much of that debate surrounding the question of how cloud-native tooling will be packaged, consolidated and marketed to enterprise clients. But one thing is certain: Having the tools to manage large, loosely coupled systems is a challenge. Exactly what the tooling that best address that challenge looks like is an evolutionary process that is still in its infancy.

To hear more about building loosely coupled systems with microservices and containers, along with an in-depth discussion on the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and what it means to be cloud-native, listen to the accompanying podcast in which TheServerSide’s Cameron McKenzie speaks with Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller.