Is Apple about to join the cloud computing fray?
Apple hasn’t been a big player in enterprise computing to date, nor has it shown any particular desire to enter the space. Perhaps it seems too buttoned-down for a company that wants to present itself as a maverick inventor, a champion of liberalism, education and arts? Maybe it realises that financial directors are unlikely to sign off on pretty boxes that come with a pretty price tag? Or perhaps it’s just been waiting for computing to come out of rack mounts before making its move?
Apple in the cloud: what’s the history?
Apple already has a consumer cloud offering – iCloud – that it offers to users for storage of files, media and photos. But enterprise-level cloud it ain’t. And, like much of Apple’s previous products (we’re thinking back to iTunes) it doesn’t play quite so nicely if you don’t subscribe to the full Apple ecosystem. iCloud on PC has been compared unfavourably to Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. It has pretty design on its side, and it’s seamless if all your devices are manufactured by Apple, and particularly if you use Apple productivity tools, such as Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Otherwise, the advice is to shop around.
Apple in the cloud: what’s the business angle for cloud?
If Apple takes its all-in approach to the commercial market, it’ll be laughed out of the boardroom, so it would need to integrate with existing infrastructure tools, such as container management system Kubernetes. It would also need to be compatible with an array of different architectures and that’s before it can demonstrate a value proposition. If it pursues an enterprise approach, it’s going head-to-head with experience at scale. Can it compete?
Apple in the cloud: what’s behind the cloud rumours?
There have been mutterings in the cloud community for a while about Apple’s possible entry into the commercial cloud market. The company announced a $10 billion data centre construction investment in 2018. But a spate of new hires has galvanised rumours of a cloud push. They include Michael Crosby, an ex-Docker engineer who is credited with the design of modern containers, Arn Gupta and Maksym Pavlenko, formerly of AWS, and Francesc Campoy, an ex-Google employee who has been tasked with working on Apple’s Kubenetes development.
Apple in the cloud: are the cloud rumours true?
Could be. Apple’s traditional growth pots have slowed, meaning it needs to explore new revenue streams. It has the investment clout to go into market, and might think it can improve cloud computing for many business customers. It may also be looking at cloud offerings for underserved sectors in SME to start with, where its plug-and-play ethos might play well, even running at a slight premium.
Apple in the cloud: what if Apple doesn’t have cloud plans?
Apple has historically been quite a secretive company, and it hasn’t made any comments on its intentions with this bank of heavyweight cloud hires. That’s fuelled speculation that it wants to take on the existing players. But it’s also likely that Apple has internal cloud plans that will support its continued mission to grow its services, such as Apple TV+, Apple Music and iCloud. Currently, it relies on AWS and Google to deliver much of the heavy lifting on those. If it were trying to bring that outsourcing in house, the last thing it would want to do is let its suppliers know, particularly as they are also competitors. Apple is one of AWS’ bigger clients.
Apple in the cloud: what next?
It’s a question of watching for more hires in the cloud space and seeing what and when Apple sees fit to make an announcement. Our best guess is that even if it does have designs on a chunk of Google and AWS’s business, it’ll test internally on its own products before heading to market. Watch this space.
Confluent announces new private cloud building platform
Confluent, a platform that sets data in motion, today announced Confluent for Kubernetes, the first platform purpose-built to bring cloud-native capabilities to data streams in private infrastructures.
Confluent for Kubernetes allows platform teams to bring much of the same cloud-native experience found within Confluent Cloud to their self-managed environments while enabling operations teams to retain control of their data and infrastructure. As a cloud-native solution, Confluent for Kubernetes helps achieve faster time-to-value and reduce operational burdens with a fully elastic and scalable cloud-native experience in private infrastructure.
“To compete in the digital realm, organisations need to quickly deliver personalised customer experiences and real-time operations, which are only possible with access to data from all environments and cloud-native advantages,” said Ganesh Srinivasan, Chief Product and Engineering Officer, Confluent.
“For organisations that need to operate on-premises, we’re bringing the benefits of cloud computing to their private infrastructure with Confluent for Kubernetes. Now, any company can build a private cloud service to move data across their business regardless of its environment.”
How can Confluent for Kubernetes help?
Organisations who are transitioning to the cloud or who need to keep workloads on-premises can use Confluent for Kubernetes’ cloud-native capabilities, including a declarative API to deploy and operate Confluent. According to the company, the platform also makes moving applications to the public cloud easier by ‘seamlessly migrating workloads to wherever your business needs them with the ability to connect and share data with Confluent Cloud’.
Enhanced reliability – As a cloud-native system, Confluent for Kubernetes detects if a process fails and will automatically restart processes or reschedule as necessary. Automated rack awareness spreads replicas of a partition across different racks, improving the availability of your brokers and limiting the risk of data loss.
Automated elasticity – Meet changing business demands with the ability to scale up using API-driven operations. The platform will automatically generate configurations, schedule and run new broker processes, and ensure data is balanced across brokers so that clusters can be efficiently utilised.
Simplified infrastructure management – Confluent for Kubernetes extends the Kubernetes API, enabling organisations to define the desired high-level state of clusters rather than manage all the low-level details. This infrastructure-as-code approach reduces the operational burden and achieves a faster time to value, while enhancing security with standards that can be easily and consistently deployed across an organisation.