Cloud Predictions for 2018

Cloud Predictions for 2018

This blog post was supposed to be finalized in early January, just when the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities came out. As a cloud admin, these revelations ate up a lot of this month, so you'll get these predictions a bit late. You can accuse me of cheating by a month, but I promise, the GDPR and Epyc parts were written last year.


The new European data protection regulation, GDPR, will come into full force in May 2018. It has already been talked about for a while, and several users and service providers have been preparing for the changes. There is still some uncertainty how GDPR will be interpreted and enforced, and I'd be surprised if all the questions are answered by the end of 2018.
What GDPR will do, is make both service providers and the users more conscious of what data they process and how they process it. There will undoubtedly be more discussions about what one should do to adhere to the regulation. While the answers won't always be clear, asking the questions and thinking about data security will already be a win for GDPR.

Container platforms

The open-source container orchestration service Kubernetes has undoubtedly been a big topic in 2017, and it has developed in leaps and bounds. It sees a lot of use already, in many cases for supporting single applications or application stacks. Kubernetes has a lot of similarities with how OpenStack developed.

What GDPR will do, is make both service providers and the users more conscious of what data they process and how they process it.

It's final role in organizations is still a question mark. There will surely be a lot of private cloud deployments, but what about the public side? Will we see a vibrant intercompatible ecosystem of public Kubernetes services, or will the majority of the use be concentrated in the hands of the big players? My guess is the former.

Epyc features

In our 2018 HPC guesses, the new AMD Epyc CPUs were mentioned as an exciting technology to follow. On the cloud provider side, they have a very interesting new feature, Secure Encrypted Virtualization. The idea is that all the memory of the virtual machines is encrypted, so that it can't even be accessed from the hypervisor machine. This could enable public cloud services with actual guarantees that the cloud provider can never see your data.

It remains to be seen how well the Linux kernel implements this support, and how the existence of the feature can be verified by the customer. Nonetheless, new interesting secure cloud services will probably pop up in 2018 thanks to this.

Whitebox switch networking

The "software defined infrastructure" has been a driving force behind infrastructure clouds. Mainly it has been visible on the user side, but it has been widely used for building the clouds themselves. The implementations have often started with the very large players, and later come to medium and small actors. From the compute side, automation tools have been available for a long time, and storage is largely a solved problem with services like Ceph.

The last stubborn bastion among non-hyperscalers has been the networking layer. This has slowly been changing, and in 2018 there will be more shift from proprietary vendor switches, to generic switches with an operating system chosen by the admins.

Doing large changes for the critical parts in existing systems is not easy. This is a good reason why this has progressed somewhat slowly. That said, if the reward is easier scalability, manageability, and stability, clever admins will find a way.

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Published originally 25.1.2018.

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Kalle Happonen

Writer works as a Development Manager at CSC.