How to make the right decisions about cloud native apps

How to make the right decisions about cloud native apps
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Since the early days of the pandemic, most people in IT management will have been drawn into critical discussions around agility – both in responding to the immediate challenges of COVID-19 and in establishing a foundation for the future.

The cloud has been central to achieving this agility; many companies that have already started making the shift towards public cloud were pleased to rapidly take advantage of the ability to quickly scale down and up as required to support their business needs in real time. Wholesale moves to remote working structures and the tech support required to collaborate during lockdown leant heavily on the cloud, which in many cases kept businesses running.

That said, the growing investment in cloud infrastructure and cloud services has not arisen solely due to the pandemic. Prior to the first lockdown in March, 67% of companies were either planning to move to a multi- or hybrid cloud model in 2020 or had already begun to do so, and 74% had similarly started or planned to develop cloud based solutions. But it has undoubtedly grown in importance and accelerated demand in the past few months, as three quarters of IT leaders now report that recent events have led them to bring these projects forward (73% and 76% respectively).

Innovation unleashed

We have heard a lot about how the pandemic has accelerated the decision of many businesses to move to the cloud, both those that were already planning to and those who quickly realized their new requirements. As a result of these moves, several organizations have understood the true value that cloud flexibility and agility affords – innovation.

What this primarily looks like is using the cloud to transform the IT environment and processes to support the adoption of emerging technologies – such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – as well as the ability to leverage automation to build self-healing, auto-scaling applications that are free from server limitations. This, in turn, can enable intelligent scaling that helps balance IT infrastructure resources against demand.

We commonly see how innovation can be a key motivation for companies that are pursuing these projects. Many companies have existed for years with everything built on premise, resulting in environments – with interdependencies and legacy core products – which prevent teams from being as responsive to changing consumer trends. Innovation and self-development are top priorities for these organizations, and a huge benefit of an accelerated cloud program is that these capabilities have been opened up sooner than forecast.

Similarly, in many cases, an organization’s pursuit to become cloud native is fueled by opportunities to further utilize the newest services that a public cloud provider such as AWS rolls out, which among other things can ensure users remain at the leading edge of data personalization. Cloud native tools are the key to providing data at scale to millions of customers and across billions of touchpoints, an increasingly crucial component of many companies’ operations.

Cloud native processes are essential components towards driving efficiency and productivity improvements. For instance, teams might discover new ways of improving outdated, inefficient, and manual processes. This not only can increase employee and customer satisfaction, but is integral to developing a more agile product development process and accelerating releases.

Companies are clearly seeing the value of cloud native tools and process. We know, for example, that nearly all IT leaders are either already actively using cloud native tools and processes (51%) or considering adopting them in their organization (47%).

Opportunities not obstructions

There are occasions however when IT teams are better skilled at legacy technologies or different models, which often leads to a skills gap, preventing an organization from shifting to the cloud as up- or re-skilling is considered a drain on budgets.

This should not be perceived as an insurmountable hurdle for organizations for whom the skills required to make the migrations from legacy to cloud platforms, then optimize and manage it, seem completely out of reach. Professional services consultants can provide the hands-on support for migrations and solution implementations as well as work with internal teams to coach them on new practices, and support in fostering the wider cultural shift needed to move towards the new ways of managing IT.

An important point to note is that not all organizations will be ready or want to make the shift towards becoming wholly cloud native. But understanding the approach and the potential benefits it brings will be advantageous to all IT leaders when creating a cloud environment that needs to serve the business today and in the future. Because whether you’re taking the plunge or adopting elements into your hybrid or multicloud strategy, the value that cloud native practices bring to an organization will only become more critical where agility, innovation and productivity will be core to business success and keeping ahead of the competition.

Simon Bennett is CTO EMEA at Rackspace Technology.