Stark & Wayne
  • by Brian Seguin

Cloud Native Transformations have been on the rise over the past decade but many of them get off to a rocky start or fail. We have consulted with scores of organizations who have taken on the Cloud Native journey. This article outlines some consistent themes that most of these organizations faced.  

There are usually two forms of drivers for the transformation effort, a top down and a bottom up driver. Top down is where an executive, vice president, or board of directors mandates a plan to go cloud native. Bottom up is where individual engineers, a team of engineers, or teams of engineers decided to go Cloud Native without executive buy in.

Common motivations for the top down

Common motivations behind bottom up

Common reasons why Cloud Native is rejected top down

Common reasons why Cloud Native is rejected bottom up

But wait? What is Cloud Native? Oddly enough every person I have asked has a different definition of what Cloud Native is. So let us unpack that before we continue

CNCF defines cloud-native as “scalable applications” running in “modern dynamic environments” that use technologies such as containers, microservices, and declarative APIs.”

Well, thanks for that definition but I’m not sure I know what that means or how to apply it to my work. So… let us paraphrase, Cloud Native is a practice, an ecosystem, and a set of standards. The reason why the definition of Cloud Native varies from person to person is simple, because it can. The best way to think about it is going Cloud Native means your organization is adopting as much of  the Cloud Native best practices as makes reasonable business sense.

I’ll give a hypothetical example a financial institution who considers themselves to be “Cloud Native” has more than 40% of their business logic applications on mainframe or legacy frameworks. Why does this organization consider themselves cloud native? Well, because 90% of their front end customer facing applications adhere to most of the Cloud Native best practices. For this organization that is the mix that makes the most reasonable business sense.

This is a common practice with Cloud Native transformations. The front end customer facing or revenue generating applications go Cloud Native first in order to take advantage of improved  time to market, market responsiveness, enhanced security, and uptime.

So back to why the corporate mandate fails

Cloud native is not an intangible set of standards to be strictly followed but a choose your own adventure story that lets you find the standards that best serve your business needs. But just as any company wide effort there needs to be agreement from bottom up to top down. A great place to start is with small attainable milestones that will enable sustainable Cloud Native practices. These small milestones once achieved will help gather top down and bottom up for bigger future moves.

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