Many cloud transitions involve moving an existing application up to the cloud without having done anything to the actual application. You’ve simply switched location from one server to another in what is commonly known as a Lift and Shift. A cloud native transformation, by contrast, has the aim of shifting processes to services and applications built for the cloud, and which take full advantage of the architecture associated with cloud computing – architecture that offers better opportunities for flexible process scaling, adaptation, and automation. What this means is that everything from services and servers to infrastructure are automatically created in line with your requirements, and the lead times that otherwise occur when you need to order everything manually, such as capacity from an operations organisation, are minimised.
Traditional architecture, known as monoliths, is based on combining as much as possible in one location in order to make distribution as easy as possible. But as integration needs increase, the complexity of the monoliths that attempt to maintain control over everything gets out of hand. Accessing functionality in an application built as a monolith in order to update it means shutting it down and taking it offline – which often means technicians working nights or weekends in an attempt to minimise disruptions to end users wherever possible. This lack of flexibility limits when and how often new functionality can reach the market – which does not sit well in a world in which time to market is an important factor for success in most organisations.
In a cloud native environment, by contrast, complex architecture can easily be distributed thanks to automation and an architecture in which applications are divided up into what are known as microservices that can act independently of one another. This shift enables a new level of flexibility in which the deployment of new code can be achieved more quickly, updates can take place during ongoing operations, and different versions of a service can be run in parallel for different clients.
The benefits of shifting to cloud native are, in other words, unlimited, but many organisations still hesitate to make the move. For many, the changeover feels complex, and they’re uncertain how to tackle the change process.
Below, we have listed three common challenges organisations experience during their change journey to cloud native – and offer advice on the best way to approach them.
Challenge: cloud native is complex because old solutions are not replaced 1:1 with a cloud native equivalent. It’s not about moving your IT to the cloud or placing your monolith application in a container – it’s about starting over from scratch.
Approach: cloud native is primarily about flexibility, automation, and faster delivery. So you need to set clear goals for what you want to achieve, break down operational requirements, and not get obsessed with how existing systems and architecture are structured.
Challenge: cloud native feels scary because it’s as much an organisational and cultural shift as a technology one. The approach is fundamentally different from traditional IT architecture, culture, organisation, and methodology.
Cattle vs. Pets, Microservices vs. Monoliths, Agile vs. hierarchical (org. & project)
Approach: plan for a long-term change journey in which the new is built in parallel with existing IT, not on top of it. It’s important to realise that the entire organisation must be proactively trained because the skillsets required are completely different from previous ones, which is why you need experts who can act as culture bearers and who can engage the organisation so that the journey isn’t simply technology-driven.
Challenge: cloud native is different and new solutions can’t simply be squeezed into the operations’ old management organisation. Plus, the new solutions aren’t always compatible with legacy systems, integrations, and existing routines.
Approach: a lot can be automated, but you still need an active management organisation that can handle the new solutions. What is needed is a plan for the handover to management – everything from support, monitoring, and integrations, to security, logging, and regulatory compliance must be future-proofed.
Iver’s consultancy organisation, Accelerate, helps clients with their transformation journey to cloud native. Want to know more about how we can support your particular organisation? Learn more about Accelerate or contact us below.