Sumo Logic and the state of modern applications in AWS

Leading up to the Amazon Web Services conference in Las Vegas, some timely data

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Next week sees tens of thousands of individuals descend upon Las Vegas for Amazon Web Service (AWS) reInvent conference, an annual event at which the company that literally invented cloud computing will be showcasing its latest product innovations, customer wins and associated goodness.

It is unlikely to come as a shock to readers, but AWS is recognized by everyone (other than some fact-dodging competitors) as the largest public cloud vendor bar none. Indeed, analyst firm Gartner puts AWS’s market share and growth rates far ahead of its nearest competitor, Microsoft’s Azure platform.

So when you are, figuratively, the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the world looks to you for direction. And AWS has delivered -- its innovation rates are mind-blowing and the company seems to be hyper focused on not sitting on its laurels but rather extending its already impressive lead even further. So it’s fair to say that next week’s event is going to be a fascinating few days for the industry.

Given all this, it is timely that Sumo Logic, a machine data analytics service, is releasing a report that it hopes will deliver some insights into the way organizations are building applications on top of AWS.

The report is based upon active data from over 1,000 of the company’s customers. The data, which was, for obvious reason, anonymized, is based on evidence that Sumo Logic captured of organizations setting up and collecting log, metric and event data from a specific application component or infrastructure stack typically for the purpose of monitoring, troubleshooting and securing the modern application utilizing these components.

Unfortunately Sumo Logic started off by falling for that buzzword du jour trap: digital transformation. I have something of a pet peeve around the huge number of conferences, vendor marketing pitches and the amount of consultant speak around the term. While it is absolutely the case that every organization is facing challenges, and that often organizations need to think about what they do within the context of software, I’m a little tired of the blanket characterization that goes with the term.

That said, the fact is that for organizations with a digital footprint, AWS is, increasingly, an important and critical player. And new approaches towards building applications -- combosability, modularity, componentization, containerization and the like -- are also important.

And so, peeves aside, it is interesting to see what Sumo’s findings show in terms of identified best practice for how companies are building their applications. Some key takeaways from the report:

Cloud-native technologies driving a new modern application stack

We all know that the characteristics of modern applications in the cloud are changing, resulting in new challenges for software and IT architects. The report confirms this and shows that modern AWS-based applications are architected differently and leverage vastly different application components than traditional three-tier applications -- specifically, how to run a modern application workload, which application components make up the application, and which application services to use to deliver and operate the application.

This re-architecture opens up an opportunity to choose the application components and services that have the right characteristics for a given use case. That’s a point for the composable application brigade right there.

Application infrastructure

Developers of modern applications for AWS (at least the ones surveyed here) are choosing Linux varietals, with Microsoft Windows being a distant second in order to run their primary application workloads. This adoption pattern differs significantly from distribution of on-premises workloads and other infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms (in particular, and for obvious reasons, Azure).

Furthermore, those workloads are also leveraging containers to improve portability and hardware utilization. The report finds double-digit penetration of container technologies, such as Docker, moving into production workloads, as well as double-digit percentage adoption of server-less computing, such as AWS Lambda technology. That is a finding that runs a little counter to generally accepted views on adoption of both containerization and server-less. Possibly some sample error there since Sumo Logic’s customers are, generally speaking, early adopters.  

Application components

Developers of modern applications are also adopting very different technologies to power their applications. The report finds that NoSQL databases have outpaced traditional RDMBS technologies when it comes to powering the data layer of modern applications.

Furthermore, traditional database vendors are far behind the new database vendors in terms of adoption for AWS based modern application workloads. The data also highlights NGINX adoption outpacing all other web servers in AWS, including Apache. Interesting -- and perhaps we’ll have to change our default fall back of LAMP stacks (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) being the standard approach.

Application services

The report also analyzed usage of AWS native application-level services for storage, security and performance. As part of this analysis, the report uncovered the fact that, for enterprises adopting public cloud, already two-thirds of applications leverage advanced AWS security services, such as AWS CloudTrail and VPC Flow Logs. 

MyPOV

This is all fuel for the fire that the fundamental approach towards building applications within enterprises is changing -- a timely report and one which will be music to the ears of AWS execs.

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