Matthew O’Neill, Financial Services Industry Managing Director, Office of the CTO, VMware It doesn’t matter what bank or financial institution they work for, there’s one thing that I guarantee keeps all CIOs awake at night – Cyber Security. To be fair, security in the digital era is probably the number one topic across all sectors. […]
The last few months have demonstrated that those organisations with a flexible infrastructure and mindset are best placed to succeed, no matter what the future looks like.
They’re in that position for three reasons. Firstly, they understand customer experience is key to both surviving and thriving. Secondly, they know the decisions they make now need to future proof their operations. Thirdly, they recognise that the only way to enable all of that is through not only having the ability to build, run, manage and modernise their application portfolios, but to do so simply, securely and in a way that uses the latest development methodologies and container technologies to allow faster time to production.
So, what does this potential complexity mean for IT teams, and specifically the developers, tasked with delivering these apps into the hands of end users, at speed and scale?
Seven steps to modernising apps
It requires them to consider and have answers to seven critical points: what are their priorities; what applications do they need to meet those objectives; what platforms do those applications demand; where do they need to run; how will applications get to users; how do they secure them; and, finally, how is it all going to be managed.
- What are the priorities and focus of the digital business?
IT teams and developers have to serve business units like they are real customers – understanding their needs, their challenges and their objectives, and demonstrating how these ambitions can be supported. It’s a two-way conversation, whereby business units and technical teams speak a common language and help each other to understand what they’re both trying to achieve.
- What applications do we need to run?
Once the focus has been established, IT teams and developers can work with the business to determine what applications are needed, and how that’s going to be supported. This conversation must incorporate the business units that are involved and, indeed, any relevant individual within the organization – and the resulting decision should combine both commercial and technical considerations.
Ultimately, the applications that need to be prioritized should always meet the demands of the business, while working within the specific skillsets and parameters of developers and the environments in which they operate.
- What platform do these applications require?
With organizations running a multitude of environments to meet the demands of their applications, each with unique technological requirements, finding the right platform isn’t the only challenge. What’s hard is that their development and management is more complex than ever before, with IT and developers navigating traditional apps, cloud-native, SaaS, services and on-premises delivery.
Here’s where you need common ground between developers, IT teams and lines of business. It’s about creating one platform to ‘run all things’, a software-defined digital foundation that provides the best environment for developers, and helps IT effectively manage existing and new technology via any cloud, for any application, on any device, with intrinsic security as standard. One platform that can deliver all apps, and enable developers to speed the time to production.
This is ultimately about enabling businesses to deliver better software faster; to automate the modern app lifecycle, remove barriers to the likes of Kubernetes and container adoption, and even run Kubernetes across clouds. In other words, democratizing Kubernetes so IT can deliver apps that transform business competitiveness.
- Where do we want to run them?
Developers must be mindful that exactly ‘where’ applications will run is often defined by commercial, legal and technical requirements. Businesses may need to meet regulatory, compliance or customer demands for the geographical storage of data.
There might also be a technological reason to keep data and applications as close to the end user as possible – if maximum latency is a non-negotiable, for instance.
Then there’s the issue of data sovereignty, which varies from country to country, and has to be considered when making decisions on application deployment.
The answer lies in bringing these considerations together, to move forward with both boxes comprehensively ticked.
- How will we get them into the hands of users?
Once the foundations are in place, developers and IT teams must establish how the applications will be delivered to end users. This is often overlooked, and yet the application’s time to value cannot be realized, or even considered, until it is in the hands of the user, whether they’re customers, employees or any other stakeholder.
That goes for keeping them updated as well – an employee could have some of the world’s most powerful applications in the palm of their hand, but by having to manually update each one, their true value won’t be achieved until that’s taken place.
- How do we secure them?
Applications, data, infrastructure – it all must be completely secure. The sophisticated nature of today’s cyber-attacks demands sophisticated responses, which is why building end-to-end security that covers applications, workloads, end points and infrastructure is so critical. It cannot be an afterthought from developers and IT teams. Only through intrinsically integrating security during applications’ development can they ensure that they are secure wherever they run.
- How are we going to manage it all?
Finally comes the management. Already touched upon in step three, IT teams need to have a way of being able to control all these different elements, and manage all applications consistently regardless of where they are deployed, at a time when developer talent and resource are under strain. It needs to be a simplified infrastructure, with consistent operations and a model to build and operate modern applications across multiple environments, whether on-premise or cloud based.