A year ago I did a talk at re:Invent called Architecture Trends and Topics for 2021, so I thought it was worth seeing how they played out and updating them for the coming year. These are personal thoughts across a wide range of topics, I’m not speaking for my current or past employers in this post.
There were five trends and topics for 2021, Serverless First, Chaos Engineering, Wardley Mapping, Huge Hardware, Sustainability. As well as the video, there’s a long podcast where I discuss them with Mik Kersten.
Serverless first is continuing to grow and deliver exceptional results, and after spending time with Liberty Mutual’s team as they built a big success story around it, I’ve been following David Anderson, Mark McCann and Mike O’Reilly’s progress as they write up what they’ve learned and move on in their careers in an upcoming book “The Serverless Edge”. I did a few talks on this subject early in the year, and linked this to the sustainability advantages of serverless architectures.
The need for systems to be resilient is still increasing, and chaos engineering tools and techniques are developing as a key way to validate that resilience is working as designed. My talks on Failing Over Without Falling Over are still very relevant, but AWS did finally release a key new service that implements key parts of the architecture: AWS Route 53 Application Recovery Controller. If you are building resilient systems with failover, the control plane that manages failover is often the hardest part of the system to get right. R53 ARC is an extremely reliable distributed control plane that should be at the center of any resilient architecture. I was part of the team that worked with financial services customers to drive the architectural requirements for this service over several years, and there’s nothing else like it. I’d even use it to manage datacenter failover or failover for other cloud vendors, as what you really need is a highly available control plane that is totally independent of your own failure modes.
Wardley Mapping is still emerging but continuing to grow it’s influence and practitioners, including the Serverless First community mentioned above. As an outcome of the DevOps Enterprise Forum I collaborated on a paper called Building Industrial DevOps Stickiness by adding an introduction to Wardley Mapping to the story. I explored live mapping again at Map Camp, focused on interpreting the Green Economy ideas of famous economist Carlota Perez. Simon continues to develop some new research areas and provides good insights into longer term trends. I blogged a summary of my map camp talk here:
Map Camp 2021 — links to my maps from the Green Economy session with Carlota Perez and Andra Sonea
This year at Map Camp, I was happy to have my Amazon Sustainability team sponsor the Sustainability track, sharing the…
Hardware continues to develop rapidly, and I still think that mainstream software development is targeting an out of date, small and simplistic hardware model, and missing opportunities to leverage the vast amounts of memory, compute and network bandwidth that are being created for machine learning and high performance computing workloads. For example AWS launched an instance type with 800 Gbits/s of network bandwith in 2021. The other continuing trend is to custom silicon, with specialized accelerators and the ARM based Graviton range from AWS, Apple’s M1 series, Tesla’s in car processor and training engines etc. I feel there’s something missing, an operating system, database, architecture and language combination that assumes that terabytes of main memory, GPUs with their own memory, and 100’s of Gbits of network are the baseline and makes it easier to leverage them together to build things that haven’t been seen before.
Finally, I’ve been working on sustainability for most of the last year. After working on getting OS-Climate started and talking about sustainability in general in my Trends for 2021 talk, I changed my role and joined the central Amazon sustainability team. At reInvent AWS announced a Customer Carbon Footprint Calculator (CCFT) and the Well Architected Pillar for Sustainability (WAS). I contributed ideas to the WAS and helped shepherd it through the release process as executive sponsor for the cross Amazon and AWS team that wrote and released it. We presented the sustainability story including a deep dive into WAS at reInvent as ARC325 Architecting for Sustainability.
For 2022 my focus is on sustainability, and I’m planning to present at events — primarily virtual — and develop the ideas in this deck further. Coming up on Jan 26, 2022 I’ll be presenting at the online OReilly Software Architecture Superstream event.
I expect most technology conferences to have some topics related to sustainability in 2022, and over time, most technology products to have sustainability as an attribute, the same way we think about security, cost, performance and usability as attributes of all the systems we interact with.