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Cloud-native technologies and DevOps approach in the age of digital disruption

With a fast-growing number of new technologies, disruptive startups and young teams of tech-savvy geniuses established enterprises face the uncomfortable truth - their business must evolve and their teams have to adapt the latest solutions - both regarding used technologies and company culture -- if they want to keep once owned market shares, customer volumes, and revenue streams. Digital transformation seems to be the proper response to the fast-changing business landscape, and cloud-native technologies are the way to go.

When you manage a company that operates at a huge scale, you can lose agility that once has helped you built a tremendous company. For many years it was obvious, acceptable, and treated as a part of the process of growing up in business -- from an extremely flexible team that provides something new to an established company, that couldn't change its strategy overnight but wins because of its power and resources.

But things have changed. Technology and innovative work culture give new companies an enormous boost to compete with business moguls. A lot of companies now known as huge technology brands (Facebook, Amazon, Tesla), started modestly but have become powerful and have changed the business landscapes far behind their fields. Digital disruption generated by startups is good for technology development, competitiveness and economy in general, but people who manage traditional companies also want to compete and secure their place in the business. And while old-fashion manners seem irrelevant, even the most conservative organizations see a chance in technology adoption.

And when the world's leading enterprises are constantly searching for new ways to retain once gained market shares, the answers to their needs may be at hand.

Why cloud native?

Cloud native is a philosophy of building digital businesses and an approach to designing and running applications that take advantages of cloud computing, open source tools, microservices, orchestrations, and containers. Cloud native experts put an emphasis on the fact that ‘cloud-native' is more about how software is created and deployed than where.

Let's compare the two companies. The first one provides a legacy software, with a long history of updates, developed by many teams, used various technologies (some of them not used now) through the years, built as a monolith with a lot of internal dependencies that could not be broken up. Every release needs approval from many people involved in the process of developing the app. Once in 2 months, they send their customers a message like this: You may experience some problems with our services due to the planned maintenance. We apologize for all the inconveniences. It often means that your service provider is deploying new release but uses monolithic architecture and can't do it smoothly.

The second company uses open source tools to develop its app in a containerized, packaged parts which can be easily managed and orchestrated separately. When the company grows, and new teams are involved in application development, they can focus on particular parts of the app, and software can be improved independently. Every new feature can be built and tested with flexibility, fast enough to get user feedback.

When these two companies compete, the first one can use a bigger amount of resources - money for promotion, people to support users, relationships in the industry and years of experience on the market. The second one comes with the agility to provide new features in days instead of months and flexibility to deploy new improvements even multiple times a day. In practice, it means a fast response to user needs and trends. In the new area of competitive markets, customer-centric services, and fast-changing business perspective, a model that allows companies to quickly adjust to the change wins.

But there is hope for enterprises with traditional architecture and conservative ways of developing software, they can rebuild and migrate their applications to the cloud and become cloud-native. And when becoming a cloud-native expert may be a demanding process, it's worth to take into account the advantages of transforming applications with external help.

Cloud-native technologies supported by the DevOps approach

Moving from legacy software to cloud-native applications is an impressive shift, and probably one of the most demanding changes some enterprises may face over the years. It's not an easy process especially for employees who have been doing a particular job for years and now have to adjust to the new reality. This is why companies that migrate to the cloud support their teams with the cultural transformation -- DevOps approach.

DevOps combines philosophy, practices, and tools that improve the company's ability to provide services at high velocity. DevOps changes the way teams involved in project works -- there is no longer a visible breakdown to silos responsible for development and operations, teams are merged and work together throughout the application lifecycle.

And while it may seem the next major distraction and complication to adopt cloud-native technologies, these two changes can accelerate digital transformation and allows enterprises to rebuild both -- company culture and technology stack used to deliver products and services.

The proper response to digital disruption

We often read about how the enterprise companies hold down technology development, using their resources to reduce the impact of the new coming startups. And while some of those stories may seem true, the business impact of new technologies is too powerful so anyone could shut down to the process of change. The only way to compete with companies using them is to try to adopt the latest solutions and change own business. Cloud-native technologies and DevOps approach are too valuable for enterprises to ignore them, as a company that can combine startup agility and enterprise capacity may be unstoppable.

Digital disruption may be presented as the destroying force that changes the enterprise landscape, but for established companies willing to find new ways to grow it may be a trigger to adopt DevOps and become cloud-native.

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About the Author

Szymon Kozak writes about digital transformation, cloud-native technologies, open source and DevOps on g-blog, published by Grape Up, a technology consulting company helping enterprises with building cloud-native products, transforming legacy software into cloud-native applications, and implementing a DevOps approach.
Published Wednesday, May 08, 2019 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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