Alan Murphy – NGINX – Cloud Expo Asia – Singapore
Alan Murphy is the Regional Solutions Architect at NGINX and joined us in Singapore to share how NIGINX can help microservice adoption in Asia Pacific.
Andrew: Alan welcome.
Alan: Thank you, Andrew. Nice to be here.
Andrew: So NGINX. Tell me about it first. Let’s start from the beginning.
Alan: So most people know NGINX as the open source web server. Been around for quite a while doing that. About six years ago, give or take we launched the product called NGINX Plus, which is our high availability load balancing product and that product is focused on high availability application delivery anywhere. So on prim, cloud, containers doesn’t matter you can run it anywhere make sure your apps are always up, always online, always available.
Andrew: Let’s start from the beginning. So it’s an open source platform. What does it actually do? Just for the laymans out there?
Alan: Absolutely. So on the open source side the primary focus is web serving so you can think of it as an alternative or replacement to Apache. So we have many many customers who choose NGINX open source web server for high performance. It is extremely high performing product, focuses on throughput just making sure the applications are always there really, really fast, really stable. NGINX Plus takes that same core and adds high availability load balancing, tools for container load balancing for micro services for Kubernetes cloud-based deployments like in AWS, for example. So that’s where NGINX Plus is focused, is on making sure those applications can be accessed. We can do load balancing, we can distribute the load between containers, for example. That’s kind of the difference between open source and Plus.
Andrew: That’s interesting because open sources, there’s companies now are fighting the corner for open source. And you’ve kind of been open source in the beginning or you have been open source from the beginning. Is that a trend that you see that continues, do people continue to want open source now that at least closed systems are around?
Alan: Yeah, I think so. I think in the past few years we’ve seen the the switch to empowering developers to things like DevOps and we allow them or the market allows them to make the choice for themselves. So that’s where open source shines. So the developer is coming up with the solution. They’re sitting at their desk and their office. They need to solve a problem like high performance web serving for example, or container base load balancing. They’re going to look for the tool that allows them to use, they can use it right away. They don’t have to go through licensing. They can just grab it and use it. So we’ve absolutely seen adoption of open source continue to grow no question and a lot of that is powered by DevOps. But at the same time we’ve also seen companies who embrace open source to get started, but then they want to settle on a company that has support behind that open source or a supported product. So it’s finding that gap between empowerment but stability and support that’s kind of where NGINX. That’s our sweet spot, you know, give them the tools they can start using today and power everyone when we get to an enterprise level where you need support NGINX Plus.
Andrew: Excellent, I need to ask you this because it popped up on my screen. Microservices. What is a microservice?
Alan: It’s a great question. So microservice functionality or fundamentally is all about taking a very large application that we would have built 10 years ago, 15 years ago and breaking that apart into functional components. So you might think of a shopping cart application, for example, an online retailer where 10 years ago the process you went through as a user was to go through a very, very large application. And that application would have a front-end application server. It would have a back-end database. But it was one big thing. And if something went wrong with that one big thing, it could affect everybody right so microservices changed that and it breaks apart each one of the functional components in that service into its own little discrete component. So if you think about the same e-retailer the function of clicking on shopping cart. Shopping cart might be a microservice and then adding something to your shopping cart would be a different microservice and then check in real time inventory and the back-end would be a different microservice. So it separates all that functionality into these tiny little services and then that allows engineers to focus on each component separately. They can change behavior in one without affecting the rest of the service but one thing we’ve noticed is companies are moving in that digital transformation of microservices. They tend to forget about traffic management and with a monolithic service a big service traffic goes in and it’s all just right there, but with microservices traffic needs to go everywhere you need to ask a thousand different services at one point, at any given time what’s the status? What’s my shopping cart? What’s the inventory? So what we do is we spend a lot of time working with customers on bringing traffic management into a microservices world. So controlling traffic and Docker environments managing ingress traffic for Kubernetes. So it’s kind of a great opportunity for us to sit down with him talk about why they’re moving to microservices why they’re on this journey, and then let’s talk about traffic management.
Andrew: It’s interesting because I mean Disruptive were primarily a British channel so we can talk about trends in Europe all the time. We don’t always get a chance to come out to Asia. So Asia-Pacific microservices, your service. The trends that you’re seeing, are they different in any way, well you might not know if they’re different but what kind of trends are you seeing?
Alan: Yeah, so we opened our offices in a pack about a year ago. So we’ve been here really nested in the environment really getting to know our customer environment and what people are doing. And one of the things we found is it’s definitely different in APAC than it is in Europe or EMEA and in North America, but it also varies within regions in APAC. So ANZ where I spend about half of my time very, very micro services focused very very bleeding edge very DevOps oriented, willing to try anything. So when we talk to customers in Australia New Zealand, they want to try the new stuff the cool stuff, right? They really want to play with Kubernetes. They want to get their hands dirty. In Southeast East Asia and Asia it’s a little more reserved a little more conservative, but the conversations are really strong about microservices. And then in Japan, Japan is a really interesting model because they’re right in the middle. They’re using microservices, but they’re taking their time they’re being extremely deliberate about it. So microservices are just starting to come up, but when they do come up, they come up in a very quick production environment. So a company in Japan who’s looking at microservices is probably ready to invest in microservices. Whereas in Asia companies might be looking at microservices to test for proof of concept and in A & Z if they’re looking at microservices. They’re ready to go. They’re ready to start playing.
Andrew: Perfect customer. So putting this conversation full circle. We spoke at right in the beginning about open source. Open source in APAC and notice any difference so that they love it more or do they hate it?
Alan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say it’s about the same as what we saw in North America. It’s still that front door entry point where people can touch it and play with it. For enterprise customers in Australia in particular, those are the ones that seem to be more focused on bringing a really strong support system behind open source. So as you mentioned you said this a few seconds ago, they’re great customers for us because they want to push the envelope. They want to care about things like traffic management. They want to use open source, but they want to have the enterprise class product underneath that or behind that so in Australia in particular really, really the best of all worlds. I would say in Singapore in Asia in China and Japan open sources prevalent absolutely, but it’s a good mix. You know, you always have people who want to try it and the people who are little reserved about open source, some people love it because they can see the code some people don’t trust it. So you get a really really nice balance, people who come on both sides of the fence.
Andrew: Ah excellent well, there’s a stand over there and they’ve invented a time machine and we’re going to use that time machine in a second. We’re going to travel five years in the future. All right, where do you see yourself? Well, not necessarily yourself but where do you see NGINX and the kind of microservices things like that in maybe five years time. Where will the trend, where’s it going in the future do you think?
Alan: Yeah, I think in five years who knows. Things move so quickly today. It’s been an amazing journey for the past 18 months to see container adoption, microservice adoption has just exploded. You know, I think in five years, there’s going to be a lot of overlap between containerisation and cloud platforms. We’ve seen companies like AWS and as your launch container management platforms, Kubernetes management platforms in the past six to 12 months those have taken off extremely quickly with our customers. So I think in five years you’re going to see a really fluid IT environment where you can build a container anywhere you want you can move it to a cloud. You can bring it back you can put it on a portable device. I think the microservices platform is going to enable us to run those services anywhere and then I also think you know to talk kind of old-school infrastructure for a second, I think the bandwidth connectivity the infrastructure, it’s going to drastically improve. I think we see that between Singapore and Australia already and talking with customers. For example gambling companies that have data centers in different countries for different legal reasons increasing that bandwith. In five years is going to allow them to deploy half of a containerised service or microservice, you know in UAE for example, and then the other half in Northern Australia and then they might have some component in Singapore for legal reasons. I think the infrastructure is going to facilitate that no question.