Open Service Brokers in the Cloud Services Ecosystem

The Open Service Broker API specification is the product of a collaboration by Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Pivotal, Red Hat and SAP. The goal of the project is to develop a standardized approach for connecting services to container orchestration platforms and cloud-native applications. At the same time, open service brokers are rapidly becoming a critical capability that cloud service providers are now all but assumed to possess.

To understand why this is the case, it helps to consider the role of open service brokers as they pertain to these two key industry trends.

The Rise of Cloud-Native, Containerized Apps

From a strategic perspective, DevOps teams increasingly are embracing containerized applications on orchestration platforms and investing in building microservices-based application architectures. Creating microservices-based applications means combining a number of disparate services, each of which provides a specific set of capabilities and utilizes separate modular code that allows them to be deployed and scaled independently.

To really compound the advantages of this architecture, it’s important to be able to run these microservices within containers so that they can be deployed, scaled and managed quickly and easily, while also keeping them portable across various hardware configurations. A number of container orchestration platforms, both open source and proprietary, are available accomplish this, including Kubernetes, Cloud Foundry and OpenShift, to name a few.

The Embracing of Cloud and Open Source Ecosystems

The market shift toward cloud platforms and open source solutions is freeing businesses from the need to develop, architect and manage every piece of component software required by the applications they’re actually trying to deliver. With those burdens removed, developers can fully focus on building their applications and deepening the value they provide to end user customers.

At the same time, managed service providers will fully operate and support essential technology solutions on a business’s behalf. For instance, developers today can utilize an open source distributed NoSQL database such as Apache Cassandra without worrying about its operations or needing to develop such a solution from scratch. Similarly, major cloud providers including AWS and GCP now commonly offer managed services for popular technologies on their own platforms. Developers of cloud-native applications (those running in the cloud on container orchestration platforms) can make use of these managed services, integrating them through published and supported APIs. Hundreds of these integrations are now available across all of the major cloud platforms, providing significant value by enabling developers to build and deploy cloud-native applications with rich capabilities quickly.

All that said, the growing number of integrations relying on bespoke APIs raises the difficulty of creating and maintaining custom integration code, especially given the continuous evolution of these services and their capabilities. In the same way, the use of bespoke non-standard APIs adds to the challenge of switching across cloud services and providers and of running the same applications across multiple cloud providers in multi-cloud environments.

Service Brokers Offer Seamless Service Integrations

Considering these two trends, the importance of major cloud service providers collaborating to create a standardized set of APIs for cloud-native applications is clear. The Open Service Broker API specification empowers cloud service providers to easily create, use and delete services that provide a robust breadth of capabilities.

In line with growing expectations around the availability of such services, cloud service providers increasingly are building and offering service brokers, allowing developers to integrate available services with their cloud-native applications cleanly and easily. Service brokers from these cloud service providers and others all perform the same function: They abstract the details of provided services to offer a clean and consistent standardized API. Doing so enables cloud-native applications to integrate cloud services while remaining fully portable and agnostic in how they are implemented.

The standardization offered by the Open Service Broker API specification is set to spur innovation and the pace of advancements in the industry. Cloud service providers are now capable of reaching wider developer communities with their services, while businesses are able to apply greater focus to developing core applications and attending to their users’ needs.

The specification also further enables and incentivizes the adoption of cloud-native applications and microservices architectures, as well as multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud deployments. Considering these profound and wide-reaching benefits, further collaboration across the cloud ecosystem should be anticipated as the market realizes the advantages of the Open Service Broker API specification.

Kaushik Mysur

Kaushik Mysur is the Director of Product Management at Instaclustr, which provides a managed service platform of open source technologies such as Apache Cassandra, Apache Spark, Elasticsearch and Apache Kafka. His previous experience includes product management roles at Avoka and Ahrefs, and he was a co-founder at Raydar, an image search engine. Kaushik works out of Instaclustr's Australia office.

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