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November 23, 2018

Achieving True Cloud Agility, a Pipe Dream or a Possibility?

"If departments work in siloes, then IT teams are missing a vital component that is needed to innovate in continuously faster cycles"

By CBR Staff Writer

Everyone knows that speed to market and the ability to constantly transform are key to succeeding in today’s digital economy. That’s why organisations are no longer built on bricks and mortar, but on applications in the cloud, improving their ability to thrive.

Michael Allen, VP EMEA at Dynatrace

Indeed, applications have become the beating heart of every service and experience. As a result, we’ve seen an unprecedented shift in the IT landscape, as organisations flock to cloud-based services, to achieve the agility needed to innovate faster and keep up with consumer demand. So much so that Gartner predicts the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 21.4 per cent this year, reaching $186.4 billion. Yet the adoption of cloud has opened a Pandora’s box of issues that previously didn’t exist, and companies are now struggling to cope with.

These struggles are hindering organisations in their quest to accelerate innovation, which begs the question; how do companies truly achieve agility in the cloud?

Tackling the Cloud Complexity Challenge

The agility that cloud affords comes from the speed at which IT resources can be provisioned. This accelerates innovation by ensuring that new services can be deployed quickly, with minimum fuss.

However, the dynamic nature of cloud and variety of providers and deployment models means every organisation has a unique, constantly changing digital ecosystem. Modern services are delivered via applications built in dynamic microservices and containers, running in complex, hybrid multi-cloud environments. Whilst these approaches are extremely beneficial for creating the agility that companies need to compete, they are also difficult to manage with traditional approaches.

Recent research has found that on average, a single web or mobile transaction now crosses 35 technology systems, compared to just 22 five years ago. As such, monitoring user experience can be a painstaking process, and in some cases being able to identify where a problem originates can be nigh-on impossible.

For organisations to remain effective in their efforts to transform, they need an intelligent approach to monitoring application performance. AI-driven approaches are more suited to the complexities of the modern enterprise cloud, removing the need for manual intervention by automatically pinpointing the root cause of any problems. However, finding a solution to the cloud agility challenge needs more than a technology refresh.

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Driving a Cultural Change

If they want to accelerate software innovation effectively, the responsibility can’t be restricted to the development team. To be successful, innovation needs to happen across the entire IT organisation. If departments work in siloes, then IT teams are missing a vital component that is needed to innovate in continuously faster cycles; collaboration.

Only by working together can development and operations teams create the transparency and clear direction that organisations need to move forward and succeed with their innovation projects.

This signals that there needs to be a complete culture change within many organisations to make digital transformation a success. Adopting the cloud isn’t a means to an end in itself. Without an equally agile culture, any efforts to accelerate innovation will fall flat.

That’s why DevOps has become such an important part of the modern cloud orientated business – it’s about creating an agile culture in conjunction with an agile technology foundation to innovate faster. The change this entails leads to more buy-in across the business and places emphasis on continuous improvement, which in turn helps organisations ensure they’re always innovating with the customer in mind.

Paving the Way for Software Success

The cyclical nature of continuous development can be created and sustained by complimenting DevOps collaboration with software intelligence that provides automated feedback on goals and performance in a way that is digestible for both development and operations teams.

Creating this familiarity and closeness within an organisation will inevitably yield greater results and keep companies ahead of the competition.

In addition, this reduces the strain on IT teams, empowering businesses to master the complexity of their modern enterprise cloud. For example, the insights enabled by software intelligence support ‘shift-left’ testing, so businesses find defects at the very beginning of the innovation process and can ensure that only “good builds” reach production.

It also advocates the use of automation to drive ‘shift-right’ self-healing, so that problems are instantly detected and auto-remediated in production environments, minimizing the risk of rapid innovation impacting on user-experiences.

As organisations continue their drive towards becoming application-led, it will be crucial they lay an agile, yet firm foundation for that software to be built on. The modern enterprise cloud is unmistakably a core ingredient in that foundation, but without an equally agile culture and the means to master escalating complexity, any efforts to accelerate innovation are doomed to failure.

Software intelligence is therefore becoming the key ingredient in enabling rapid innovation, offering the visibility that organisations need into their complex cloud environments, and supporting closer collaboration and cultural change within IT.

True cloud agility may not be that far away after all.

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