I recently attended Altitude 2022 in New York City, which featured many compelling presentations and user stories showcasing the latest happenings at the edge. Along with fascinating use cases such as CNN’s election coverage technology, IKEA’s implementation for large-scale e-commerce, and Paramount’s creative use of edge computing to tackle piracy, I emerged from the event with two memorable takeaways from Fastly’s speakers.
The Future Of The Web Is Not Only Serverless At The Edge … It’s “Location-Less”
There’s something inherently attractive about a future for the edge that has developers building edge-first applications that don’t care where they run. Today, much of the conversations and vendor marketing around the edge are rooted in CDNs, data center locations, and the general idea of pushing content closer to data sources and the end user. That makes sense, because many use cases for edge computing center around faster performance and improving access to content in hard-to-reach places.
On the other hand, many emerging cloud-native technologies revolve around abstracting away unnecessary complexities so that application development and delivery pros can focus on writing business logic to craft valuable customer experiences and business outcomes. It stands to reason that while the location of workloads and data sources remains influential in customer experience and system performance, it’s also something on the table to abstract away to improve the developer experience and yield better software capabilities at the edge. Tyler McMullen, CTO at Fastly, convincingly laid out this assertion in his closing keynote.
“Observability-Driven Development” Targets The Development Shop With New Tools And Practices
Observability is a hot topic, and development shops are paying attention. For many years, telemetry and observability have taken a back seat to shinier advancements in the modern application space. This year’s visits to KubeCon and Altitude, along with my discussions with cloud-native development leaders on their pain points, tell me that this is rapidly changing. It was no coincidence that Fastly unveiled a new product line for edge observability the same week as its Altitude event.
From the developer perspective, the reasons why we are seeing so many emerging innovations in this space right now are twofold: (1) The ephemeral and increasingly distributed nature of today’s workloads creates challenges in traditional approaches to observability and (2) Developers and cloud-native leaders consistently evaluate their tools, patterns, and practices and find gaps in their ability to understand how their software is performing and how customers are using it. Edge computing presents a more extreme case of the distributed ephemerality that the industry is already solving for with cloud-native. Going forward, we must continue to “observe” the advent of observability solutions tailored specifically for the edge.