Why businesses need to adopt a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ mentality

Person holding smartphone with apps on screen - application modernization
(Image credit: Future)

The Swiss Army Knife has become synonymous with continuous adaptability and practicality; no matter the situation, it’s at hand to serve a purpose quickly and efficiently. Users can swap out tools simply, at speed. It can respond to different environments with bespoke functionality, held together by one vital pivot point.

In today's world, the mindset for modernizing applications must echo this model. Apps must be adaptable and agile, ready to deploy across multiple platforms and cloud environments. IT must be able to deliver apps at speed, with reliability and security. Whether cloud native or updated legacy, in the data center or in a multi-cloud environment, apps now work across any cloud on any device.

About the author

Bas Lemmens is VP & general manager EMEA at VMware Tanzu.

In response to COVID-19, McKinsey found that organizations 'moved 20 to 25 times faster than they thought possible' in increasing the use of advanced technologies in operations. It's clear that rapid deployment of advanced technology powered the response to the pandemic in many ways, and there is going back. Restrictions demanded that critical applications shift to the cloud and assumptions over the speed at which such transformation could occur today have been shattered for good.

And even as the crisis eases, organizations aren’t putting the brakes on. Demand for application modernization services is set to increase post-pandemic, with European organizations in particular expected to rapidly increase adoption of such services.

Seamless experiences must satisfy customers, and internal talent

On the heels of COVID-19, higher customer expectations demand rapid resilience, seamless experiences and agile responses, no matter the challenge. In fact, 80% of EMEA application developers and tech leaders believe that, without successfully modernizing applications, organizations will not be able to deliver a best-in-class customer experience. High performing enterprises are more likely to be developing and delivering new applications and services into the hands of users, at increased speed.

This focus on application agility requires a modernization mindset, where the principles of SaaS – delivering superior software products alongside a seamless customer experience – meet a multi-cloud world. Where users are free to explore any number of alternative solutions, software, service and – more than ever – agility and flexibility must come as standard. Even DORA, the DevOps Research & Assessment company, has four key performance benchmarks to serve as a guide of how well engineering teams are performing.

As such, IT modernization is no longer just driven by cost-savings or the sun setting on monolithic legacy systems. It is about delivering the agility, scalability and speed today’s multi-cloud landscape demands. In fact, 90 percent of organizations surveyed by VMware say app initiatives are now focused on modernization and 80 percent today deploy applications in a distributed model across the data center, the cloud and at the edge.

This is no surprise. Just as employees across the organization simply want the best tools to do their jobs, developers have to be free to create those tools using the architecture most suited for the job. Multi-cloud environments empower organizations to distribute their workloads for maximum impact, optimize return on investment, and manage away complexity. In a multi-cloud environment, operating with an agile mindset companies can build, run and manage their apps effectively regardless of cloud type.

Creating agile app-modernization architecture

All good Swiss Army Knives rely on a central pivot point for versatility. The same is true for apps. The pivot point your apps rely on for successful deployment is the foundational architecture you choose to build and manage applications on. With hundreds or even thousands of existing monoliths and new cloud native microservices, IT must be able to effectively manage existing and new technology via any cloud for any application on any device. As recognized by Accenture, ‘The reality is, for complex mission-critical applications with many interdependencies, modernization can’t happen overnight. It requires a strong architecture upfront’.

Microservices, containers and Kubernetes help to free apps from infrastructure, enabling them to work independently and run anywhere; cloud native patterns, automate the delivery of containerized workloads, and proactively manage apps in production. It’s all about freeing developers to do their thing: build great apps and getting them into the hands of the users.

Creating one, common platform that can deliver all apps in one place, tying in security and compliance requirements is essential. A multi-cloud approach, managed on a common platform enables developers to use the latest development methodologies and container technologies. This agile, multi-cloud approach frees up teams to spend more time focusing on creativity and building better software. Quite simply, multi-cloud is the foundation of modernization architecture

Mindset plus multi-cloud equals game-changing modernization

Multi-cloud environments empower organizations to distribute their workloads for maximum impact, optimize return on investment, and manage away complexity. To ensure increased agility, maximizing modernization, companies must provide developers with the ability to work on any cloud.

Talented developers are eager to use the innovative services each cloud provides to best effect. And, with well documented skills shortages, and organizations fighting for the best talent, giving developers the freedom to deliver enables them to own innovation and exercise creativity to drive business value.

A multi-cloud, app modernization mindset isn’t just for the benefit of customers, it is for the benefit of your greatest asset – talent.

Just as the Swiss Army Knife is seen as a survival tool, business survival today is based on adaptability and agility. Capitalizing on a multi-cloud environment, modernized apps will become the trusted, timeless tools customers, clients and employees instinctively reach for; the Swiss Army Knife that will see them through the toughest of challenges.

Bas Lemmens

Bas Lemmens is VP and General Manager EMEA, VMware Tanzu.