Most large companies understand the value of cloud computing. For many of these organisations, the cloud is about lifting on-premise applications and workloads and moving them to cloud-based data centres. Doing so realises a raft of benefits, such as cost reduction and greater flexibility.
However, some businesses are going further and unlocking next-level value as a result. These ‘cloud native’ organisations are looking to modernise their applications by building them in public, private and hybrid cloud environments, using technologies such as microservices, containers and serverless functions.
A cloud native approach enables businesses to leverage multi-cloud strategies as containerisation makes it easier to shift apps and workloads between different environments. Cloud native also allows businesses to develop, launch and scale new applications much faster. Companies that embrace it are thereby able to innovate more rapidly than their peers and react to marketplace events with greater agility.
The impact of COVID-19
Before COVID-19 these benefits were still, arguably, ‘nice to haves’ for large enterprises, many of which have significant sums of money invested in the existing digital landscape. While cloud native was firmly on the roadmap, there was no urgent need to adopt the approach.
The pandemic changed this state of affairs overnight. Traditional business models have been thrown up into the air, and companies have been forced to adapt at speed. Suddenly, the ability to modernise and scale applications to meet new needs and adapt to new demand patterns and business models has become imperative for most businesses.
All businesses are therefore putting their operations under the microscope to see what can be replaced by digital alternatives. The faster these alternatives can be created, tested, launched and scaled the faster they can generate value. The business case for cloud native has never looked stronger.
Kickstarting a cloud native strategy
Businesses yet to embark down the cloud native path will need to get started as soon as possible. We recommend that businesses take a two-step approach to ensure their move to cloud native progresses as required:
- Map your app landscape. The first step is to analyse your existing enterprise application ecosystem to understand which will have a place in your cloud-first future. You should “bucket” your apps into one of three categories: those that can be ‘lifted and shifted’ directly into the cloud, those that need to be refactored or re-platformed in the cloud to make them more effective, and those which are no longer valuable and should be discarded.
- Containerise your apps to migrate. Using technologies like Anthos from Google Cloud, you can simply and effectively containerise and modernise your apps for the cloud. Once there, they can be refactored and re-platformed as required. Starting first with migration will give you confidence before you move on to the next stages of cloud native.
With steps two and three complete, enterprises are able to develop in the cloud. To do so effectively, you need to discard legacy thinking. With multiple cloud variants and services at hand, you need to think about where makes most sense to run workloads, changing technical ways of working to make best use of the cloud. This requires knowledge of these tools and taking a highly structured approach.
The most successful cloud native modernisation projects will balance technology excellence with a strategic understanding of business objectives. As well as leveraging the best cloud technologies on offer, enterprises will need to drill deep into the needs of their company and sector to understand how these technologies should be best applied.
Here’s an example. UPC Polska, Poland’s leading connectivity and entertainment provider, realised that households worldwide increasingly expect one provider to meet all their telephony, digital entertainment and broadband needs. As it’s never been easier to switch providers, the ability to rapidly launch compelling bundles and integrated customer experiences is critical to maintaining customer loyalty.
For UPC Polska, app modernisation in the cloud seemed the obvious solution, and it partnered with Google Cloud and Accenture to realise its vision. The company’s cloud-first model allows it to rapidly build and deploy new, high-quality services to customers and stay ahead of the pack. Freed from the burden of infrastructure management and newly trained in agile methodology, UPC Polska’s developers now focus on writing great code and delivering exceptional customer experiences while operators use Anthos to effectively manage and run those applications anywhere.
Partner ecosystems such as that leveraged by UPC Polska, are increasingly coming into play as a good approach to becoming cloud native. By partnering with technology and industry partners, you can optimise your deployments and ensure that your investments deliver exactly as required.
The world is changing at a faster rate than ever and most companies now realise that app modernisation is required sooner rather than later to keep pace. Those that go cloud native are well-positioned to complete their transformations faster than their non-cloud-native peers, and stand a better chance of building the innovation, speed and resilience needed to survive in the long-term.