Three revolutions drive cloud-native boom

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In the middle of the last century, the average S&P 500 company was 60 years old. Today, companies generally survive less than 20 years and their lifespan is getting shorter and shorter. Businesses are created and destroyed much faster, and only the most agile and innovative survive.

There are many reasons why the rate of change is increasing while the competition becomes tougher, but, to a large degree, it is the changing nature of the world itself that is to blame – a world that is being “eaten by software,” and hence by digital disruption. Entire industries worldwide are being disrupted. We all know the ubiquitous examples of retail transformed by Amazon, the hospitality industry taken over by Airbnb, and Uber transforming commuting as we know it. But we should also remember that these digital winners leave in their wake a trail of less-agile traditional businesses that lie buried under the weight of their own “legacy spaghetti” IT and stiff business processes.

The disruptive nature of the underlying IT systems that drive this trend is also accelerating. In the 1990s, technological innovations mostly sought to optimize the internal operations of large established corporations. Today’s cutting-edge IT infrastructure, however, empowers newcomers and startups, unconstrained by legacy technology or mindset as they are, to destroy existing businesses with lightning speed.

This cutting-edge infrastructure technology is cloud native. Simple cloud computing is no longer enough! For any innovative technology to take over the market, not only does it have to be more efficient than the traditional approach, the supportive ecosystem and interdependent architectures should also emerge. In my opinion, that’s just what has happened in the cloud.

Cloud native is the modern approach to develop, deliver, and operate business applications. Several technical definitions of cloud native exist, but I think the concept can be simplified as a combination of three key components that support each other in a wholistic ecosystem: cloud, DevOps, and containerization. Each of these components is revolutionary in its own right, and together they establish the modern agile infrastructure approach of interrelated technologies, methodologies, and culture.

Just like previous innovative technologies, cloud native impacts business performance, resulting in improved business velocity and customer experience, higher performance, and higher competitiveness. But this time, it expands the boundaries of the technological and business possibilities even further:

  • Cloud – offers businesses immediate, on-demand access to computing resources with a pay-as- you-go model while moving IT spending from capital to operating expenses
  • DevOps – allows for the continuous improvement of business applications through a faster market feedback loop by integrating developers and operations teams for automated workflows of continuous delivery
  • Containers – decouple monolithic legacy applications into loosely coupled and highly portable components deployed on a distributed infrastructure while microservices prevent dependencies and provide interoperability for easy changes and software development.

The combination of cloud, DevOps, and containers enables early adopters of cloud native to use agile software and business innovation to leapfrog the competition in the digital transformation race for a sustainable competitive advantage. This will require not only adoption of the tools, but also a change in mindset and the acquisition of the new skills.

Harvard Professor Richard Peiser said: “It’s easy to spot a pioneer, he’s the one face down in the mud with arrows in his back.” The adoption of cloud native has already passed the pioneering phase – with our customers alone we can see exponential growth in related service engagements across all regions. As per the innovation adoption chart from Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm, I believe we have just passed the chasm: moving from the Early Adopters to Early Majority. The next phase is Late Majority. But, by then, it may be too late.

Becoming a cloud-native company calls for a complete transformation in the way you innovate, develop, deliver, change, and collaborate on new software capabilities. Execute your cloud native strategy by combining Red Hat open source technologies, with Capgemini’s expertise in cloud transformation. Go cloud native.

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