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Why competitiveness means keeping pace with the cloud

Charlie Li

In 2017, we spoke to 900 executives about how cloud-native applications enable new standards for business agility and innovation.

The resulting report, Cloud native comes of age, revealed a divide between leaders – those who build more than 20% of their applications cloud natively – and laggards, who are trailing behind. But most importantly, the benefits of a cloud-native approach became clear, with 84% of leaders reporting increased revenues, and many seeing technical and cultural step changes:

  • Continuous agile software development
  • Automated deployment of new software
  • Greater integration within DevOps teams

For companies with traditional IT estates made up of cloud and legacy (on-premises) apps and infrastructure, matching the development quality and velocity of cloud-native startups remains an ongoing challenge. But by automating IT operations processes with cloud technologies, they can begin to bridge that gap.

In our latest study, The automation advantage, we surveyed 415 IT executives to gauge how businesses worldwide are automating IT operations processes to remain competitive. The results are promising.

“Follower” or “Fast Mover”?

Just like the leaders and laggards in our previous study, this research contrasts two types of organizations: “Fast Movers” and “Followers.”

Fast Movers are the 20% who are most advanced in applying cloud automation, while Followers – who face many of the same challenges – are less mature in automating their CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipelines. But why call them Fast Movers? Simply put, they’re outpacing the competition.

By automating their legacy systems and IT operations processes with cloud technologies, Fast Movers can manage traditional apps and infrastructure in a more competitive, agile, and scalable framework. Not only are Fast Movers able to deploy code continuously, but they’re enabling end-to-end automation across the entire development lifecycle.

In fact, eliminating manual tasks means that new software or features can be moved from development into production in minutes, even in traditional applications. We call this capability Enterprise DevOps.

“Scalability and reducing time to market are important goals of automation for us. We also want to free up the resources that we have to enable us to really start to change the way we deliver IT services and focus more on business outcomes.”

Jens Ekberg, VP for Technology and Transformation, Securitas

The benefits of the bold

Fast Movers aren’t just fast – they’re bold. They automate entire IT operations processes, end to end, and aren’t afraid to eliminate manual activities. And it’s this boldness that helps IT leaders get the most from CI/CD automation, because once automated, these decisions can be tough to undo; you’ve got to be ready to double down.

Initiating the automation of legacy IT will no doubt trigger some internal resistance, but as 60% of Fast Movers report, firm support and effective communication from senior management can help secure strategic success.

However, before the CEO and CFO rally to your cause, you’ll want to clarify the benefits that CI/CD automation – and in turn, a shift to DevOps – can offer your organization. There’s no better place to look than to those already reaping the rewards. Of the Fast Movers surveyed:

  • 75% say automation has led to increased business revenue
  • 86% say automation has increased overall profitability
  • 86% say automation helped to improve the customer experience
  • 84% say automation has improved their company’s agility

As for traditionally siloed development and operations teams, 45% of Fast Movers are using cloud automation to integrate these teams. 59% of Fast Movers are redeploying engineers onto higher-value activities such as new development.

Speed and intelligence

By automating the CI/CD pipeline, Fast Movers are able to provision infrastructure and deploy new code rapidly enough to keep pace with born-in-the-cloud companies. Dave McJannet, CEO for HashiCorp says:

“The best performers will probably deploy 20 times a day because they’re making incremental changes each time, not massive ones. The rate of change is extraordinarily high, but the size of each change is very small. In that sense, these firms are massively de-risking their operations.”

Some Fast Movers are already looking past automation to the next big step – intelligent provisioning. At Cisco, provisioning is now almost completely automated, but rather than have its users provision with a click of a button, the company aims to power the process with AI for intelligent self-provisioning in the near future.

Keep pace or fall behind

With cloud technologies enabling the automation of the entire infrastructure provisioning and application deployment process, there’s no need for legacy IT approaches to persist. Yes, cloud-native startups may have had the advantage of being “born” online, but when Fast Movers are already catching up and, in Cisco’s case, looking ahead at AI – the Followers need to accelerate automation, or become increasingly uncompetitive.

Johan Esbjörner, product owner and technical lead for the Cloud Center of Excellence at Husqvarna, believes that CI/CD automation is more than just a means to enhance its IT operations; it’s fundamental to future success.

“If we don’t spend time on automation today, we may be out of business in five years. We’ll be too expensive and our time to market will be too long.”

Johan Esbjörner, Husqvarna

To learn more about automation and its role in enabling innovation, read The automation advantage.

To benchmark your own organization – and find out whether you’re a Fast Mover or a Follower – take our survey