Anyone who has studied the digital transformation or, better still, experienced it first hand, knows that flexibility and rapid innovation are essential if a company is to survive. You can’t get by with good ideas alone: innovators need to test in practice — and as quickly as possible — whether their concept has a chance of success. They want to focus as much as possible on business-driven value creation with minimal distractions from non-functional requirements. A cloud-native strategy enables you to focus immediately and effectively on the rapid creation of new business value.
In the late 1960s, computer programmer Melvin Conway formulated a theory that the way a given computer system develops depends on how the communication structure of an organization evolves. That implies you can look at the IT landscape and deduce how that organization is structured. Organizational complexity is directly reflected in IT management and application development. So organizational issues are a big obstacle to a successful digital transformation. To accelerate, you need an IT team that is very close to the business and one that can focus entirely on developing functionality and generating added value for the business.
How to go faster
Rapid innovation depends on how fast the developers can do their work. Acceleration and innovation are key factors that can be achieved through more experimentation. The more you can try things out, the greater the likelihood that the business will be successful. For this reason, many companies have chosen approaches such as Agile, Scrum, and DevOps. At Schuberg Philis we have added another key approach: decisive, selfsteering teams. This is intended to save time, because working in sprints means that usable software components can be delivered faster, and it reduces the risks, because it becomes clear at an earlier stage what the chances of success may be and whether a change of course is needed.
While Agile, Scrum, and DevOps are ways of organizing work more intelligently, cloud-native is the corresponding architecture that contributes to acceleration. In cloud-native and serverless environments, operational activities such as installing and configuring virtual machines or servers, establishing databases and middleware, as well as the lifecycle management of these components, are considerably reduced.
This means that developers can focus all their energies on developing functionality. There are three benefits from this: new functionality is available more quickly, operational costs are lower, and the development costs for new functionality are lower. In other words: cloud-native operations help you escape from the constraints of Conway’s Law. Cloud native operations enable you as a team, together with the company, to focus on functionality and hence on value creation.
What’s more, the invoicing model for cloud-native and serverless environments is based on the functionality that is delivered. Virtual machines and the applications they host often work 24/7. In the serverless world, invoicing is based on the number of transactions processed in the application. The big advantage is that an application that is not much used costs almost nothing and the costs increase only when the company grows.
Cloud-native operations really do result in acceleration. This was demonstrated when our customers Business Lease wanted to digitize onboarding for new customers. We were facing a shortage of system engineers at the time, so setting up the infrastructure would have taken longer than usual. We therefore chose to develop new functionality based on a serverless cloud-native structure, so that the developers could start work immediately.
This meant that much of the digitalization of the onboarding was quickly visible and available. Because it was not necessary to upgrade the infrastructure first, Business Lease had new functionality in the shortest possible time and the costs were low.
Cloud-native application architecture fits well with the approach of taking small steps in a modular approach and continuously innovating, building, and improving. That reduces risks, strengthens control of the process, and increases the probability of a good result.
The way ahead
Our teams at Schuberg Philis are very enthusiastic about developments in cloud-native architecture and serverless software. ‘Heavy lifting’ is no longer necessary and the technology contributes directly to the creation of business value. In addition, this technology is maturing rapidly, making it suitable even for mission-critical applications.