Educate, enable, enforce: a blueprint for cloud-native success

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CIOs are constantly looking for a better way of working—one that can turn IT into a profit generator, not a cost center. Cloud-native development is a great way of doing this and ushers in a new era of agile, flexible and scalable business.

Of course, this is easier said than done, especially with continuing demands from the business to cut IT costs. In Cloud Native Comes of Age, 32% of business respondents said this was an important goal, highlighting the CIO’s challenge to deliver change as affordably as possible.

But this is where the 3Es come in: educate, enable and enforce.

If you make these your priorities, you’ll get the board—and your whole organization—to buy into your cloud-native vision, empower your IT teams to deliver the strategy, and retain the governance and control to keep everything on track.

Education matters

There’s a lingering sense among many business leaders that IT is simply there to vacuum money. With a cloud-native approach, this couldn’t be further from the truth; if anything, the board should be pushing transformation hard. But to get to that point, you’ll also need to gain support from your development team, as at the end of the day, they’re the people who’ll either take to it or reject it outright.

It’s time to challenge perceptions, and re-position IT as innovative partners. Cloud-native technology and development will be vital to innovate, delight customers, and compete; CIOs must demonstrate that in a way that all stakeholders can understand.

In the Cloud Native Comes of Age report, survey respondents were divided into two groups: cloud-native leaders and laggards.

Those developing 20% of more of their applications in a cloud-native environment are defined as leaders. Best of all, they’re registering tangible business gains any business leader would love to hear about:

  • 84% say cloud native has increased revenue and reduced operating costs
  • 83% say they are ahead of their peers in terms of financial performance
  • 87% say cloud native has enabled better customer experiences
  • 80% say their time-to-market for new products and services is down.

The importance of education on cloud native can’t be underestimated. It’s vital help everyone understand why change is important and valuable—and the competitive risks of failing to make the change.

Education is also about managing expectations, so if things don’t go perfectly, the impact can be minimized and lessons can be learned. Encouraging a culture of continuous learning is essential to move forward successfully.

Enable excellence

But it doesn’t end with education. Of those surveyed, 70% and 65% said that cloud native brings significant skills and cultural challenges respectively. CIOs must work hard to overcome ingrained cultural resistance and bridge the skills deficit.

That could mean bringing in cloud expertise from external partners to help in-house teams become familiar with the architecture, or commissioning extensive training. Either way, cloud-native development demands IT turn its back on traditionally siloed processes. Instead, CIOs must enable a DevOps approach to demonstrate how when working together, development is faster, collaborative and continuous, resulting in a better service for the end user.

Mike Houston, senior information services manager at Altria, believes this approach has enabled significant benefits for both the wider business, and IT’s future relationship with business users and leaders:

“Cloud native has changed the nature of our relationship with the business. We’re now involved in every conversation from idea forward. When the business is thinking about an opportunity, we are there at the beginning. Rapid delivery changes the relationship.”

Enforce quality

Finally, it’s essential to ensure quality and consistency.

This is where a DevOps and microservices approach proves vital. There is no final version of each app, just iterative and continuous deployment to ensure the best possible version is always live for the end user. But that doesn’t mean there’s no possibility of failure. Developers should still document and test in a repeatable process with strong governance to manage that risk.

But a microservices approach does mean that errors can be easily contained and amended at a moment’s notice. There’s no mass product to recall, just a simple code-change and your app is good to go. And if anything, enforcing agile recovery will help build a stronger competitive advantage as DevOps teams learn to respond on demand.

Principled migration

Making the move to cloud native isn’t easy, but you’re not alone in facing these challenges. Educate, enable and enforce. By focusing on the 3Es, you’ll be ready to lead the charge and bring your whole organization with you.

To see all the survey results, and get expert analysis on cloud-native benefits and challenges, download the full research report here.

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