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Recapping the Think 2019 “Journey to Cloud” Community CrowdChat

Cloud computing has become the principal paradigm for enterprise applications. As businesses modernize their computing and networking architectures, cloud-native architectures are the principal target environments.

As a result, enterprise deployment of all-encompassing cloud computing is accelerating. Many enterprises have embarked on a journey to computing in and across a multiplicity of clouds. On Wednesday, IBM Corp. and SiliconANGLE’s sister market research firm Wikibon held a #Think2019 conference community CrowdChat to discuss how enterprises can make the journey to cloud. The hourlong online session was well-attended and there was vibrant discussion of many issues related to this topic.

The CrowdChat featured the following IBM cloud subject matter experts: Alasdair Nottingham, Open and WebSphere Liberty; Briana Frank, Offering Management Design and Incubation; Danny Mace, IBM Application Platform; Eric Minick, Hybrid Cloud DevOps; James Farrow, hybrid cloud solution architect; Pete McCaffrey, IBM Cloud Integration; Jeff Brent, technical product manager; Bob Spory, cloud technical specialist; Bill Lawton, digital business automation specialist; Ram Vennam, developer and product manager; Roland Barcia, IBM Cloud Native; and Rachel Reinitz, IBM Cloud Garage.

They discussed the following elements of enterprise cloud computing strategies:

  • Choosing the right cloud strategy
  • Embracing the best cloud operating models, methodologies, skills, and tools
  • Ensuring that users get the most out of their cloud and digital business assets

Here were the most noteworthy responses from these and other participants to the CrowdChat questions:

Choosing the right cloud strategy

When asked how cloud computing is enabling enterprise strategy, the community responded on several levels.

Some highlighted cloud’s role in business strategy:

  • Jeff Brent: “Business transformation is a theme I hear constantly. Customers I talk to are using cloud to innovate and adopt DevOps to accelerate the value they can provide to their customer”
  • Peter McCaffrey: [clients are] “evolving to an ‘Agile Integration Architecture’ that rethinks people, process, and technology.”
  • Rachel Reinitz: “our starting point with #ibmcloudgarage clients is always taking a business opportunity/challenge & apply @ibmdesign thinking & lean to narrow in an #MVP to build & test using cloud”
  • Bill Lawton: “I’m seeing many companies moving their ECM content into the public cloud as part of their modernization strategy.”

Some discussed cloud’s role in accelerating implementation of operational strategies:

  • Briana Frank: “most of the clients I talk to are trying to figure out how to continuously deliver new features as quickly as possible”
  • Peter McCaffrey: “Cloud is really an accelerator for a lot of clients I speak with, it’s a way to quickly incubate new ideas and bring the good ones to market quickly.”
  • Eric Minick: “ I think that synergy between continuous delivery and cloud is really key. Cloud without new practices is just the same old stuff in someone else’s data-center. CD without programmable infrastructure is totally crippled…. I don’t know if it’s so “traditional”. I do think you get some “platform ops” teams and then some SRE. All of this is messing with everyone’s org charts.”

While still others discussed the tactical challenges of evolving enterprise IT architecture into the cloud to drive various strategies:

  • Danny Mace: “Most of our clients are on a journey to Cloud, but we know 80% of workloads for Enterprise workloads have yet to move. IBM is focused on modernizing those apps and accelerate the journey to help with digital transformation.”
  • Alasdair: “I don’t think you can be effective at cloud without agile and dev/ops. It is a logical progression. I like the fact that the trend towards containers also abstracts a lot of the dev/ops stuff away from developers towards traditional ops.”

Embracing the best cloud operating models, skills, methodologies and tools

When asked what types of changes IT organizations are making to adopt a cloud operating model, the community contributed insights that ranged from high-level to highly specific:

  • Rachel Reinitz: “changing culture – organization, process, skills, metrics, mindset are really the hardest parts of successful cloud adoption … like other major transformations”
  • Roland Barcia: “There is a lot of modernization focused toward developers, but other roles in the organization (like operations teams) feel left behind. Turning administrators into site reliability engineers, and integrated into development squads is the next big challenge”
  • Briana Frank: “It’s not just IT orgs adopting cloud but each individual business unit. It’s really interesting to see what these individual groups can create when given the right tools. Especially when we mange the services for them and they can concentrate on inventing”
  • Jeff Brent: “To transform IBM, we drank our own champagne and implemented a squad model aligned with Design Thinking to maximize business results.”
  • Eric Minick: “there are some squads who deliver tools as a service. That’s their “product” delivered to the rest of the org”
  • Bill Lawton: “Robotic Process Automation technologies can help in unlocking interactions with heritage enterprise applications that don’t have an API.”

In terms of the skills deficits that enterprise need to address to advance their cloud strategies, the participants focused on those for building and managing robust cloud-native applications:

  • Roland Barcia: “I believe that skills in making cloud apps resilient, together with data, and automation are sorely lacking.”
  • Briana Frank: “all of our clients are looking for kubernetes skills. One of the reasons we find managed kube to be so popular. Our clients can just focus on their business needs”
  • Ram Vennam: “Many clients expressed a lot of interest in learning how to deploy and manage applications in Kubernetes.”
  • Danny Mace: “Cloud opens up a wide lens of options for Developers to move to new cloud native technologies. For example, if I’m a Java J2EE developer by trade, what is best path forward to cloud native development that leverages as much as my skills as possible?”

The participants commented on how agile development and DevOps processes are evolving the relationship between business and technology groups in the cloud era:

  • Rachel Reinitz: “we find they have big impact on the relationship for the good – our #ibmgaragemethod has a big focus on it”
  • Jim Farrow: “DevOps eradicates silos and requires stakeholders across business units to interact with one another, so it helps to establish mutual understanding and empathy as core team values that enable individuals to move toward a common goal.”
  • Alasdair: “My experience is that the org chart is irrelevant to achieving meaningful change. You need the people doing the work to want to do the work and buy into the change and a new org chart can’t fix that….so not the culture being open vs closed, but the willingness of the culture to adopt open technologies….just today I had a question from someone concerned that WebSphere Liberty was “less enterprise” because we open sourced most of it as Open Liberty. Of course the idea that open source is less enterprise-ready is a little old-fashioned.”
  • Roland Barcia: “Cloud Native development is really driving the next waves of new apps. It is changing the way teams organize themselves. Cloud Native is really driving next wave of challenges around ops and Devops and adoption of microservices”

Cloud-native technologies offer unprecedented flexibility into where enterprises can place workloads and data to best meet their changing needs. According to the participants:

  • Peter McCaffrey: “The beauty of a Multi-Cloud, Hybrid strategy based on open standards you can determine application and data placement based on security and governance requirements….Portability and open standards really provide flexibility in how and where I deploy cloud native applications….Embrace of open standards leveraging containers and Kub help avoid lock-in which is a worry otherwise”
  • Roland Barcia: “There is a tension to adopting new technologies like serverless which provide a managed environment and fear of lock-in. Technologies like kubernetes and knative are very important to allowing you to move apps across clouds”
  • Eric Minick: “yes, yes, yes. I think Kubes provides that lingua franca that makes cloud portability a lot more viable than in the past.”
  • Ram Vennam: “Istio provides the management tools you need to connect, observe and enforce policies on your microservices”

Security requirements are driving application development and DevOps in the enterprise cloud journey. According to the participants:

  • Briana Frank: “Security is the number one thing on our clients mind.”
  • Alasdair: “I see a lot more attention being paid to security vulnerabilities in downstream dependencies. I think this will drive more towards people being on the latest versions of dependencies. This is one reason why WebSphere Liberty is moving to doing releases every 4 weeks.”
  • Roland Barcia: “Security is still a huge obstacle to adoption. From moving data to ensuring compliance. Technologies like MCM provide a HUGE opportunity to Software Define Policies in a Kubernetes Cluster. “
  • Jim Farrow: “Organizations and teams that adopt DevOps can ensure the mitigation of security risks by including the organizations’ security teams into the DevOps lifecycle….Security #DevSecOps While some IT and business leaders now say that they believe their data is actually more secure in the public cloud than in their on-premise data centers, the cloud adds a layer of complexity to the task of securing the IT environment.”

Ensuring that users get the most out of their cloud and digital business assets

Business payoff is the bottom line on the journey to the cloud. When asked how cloud technology will unlock new opportunities from legacy enterprise applications, the participants responded with discussions of the enablers and obstacles to realizing full value:

  • Peter McCaffrey: “A comprehensive API strategy that unlocks data from heritage applications is the cornerstone to initiatives like “Open Banking”
  • Roland Barcia: “80% of workloads are still behind firewalls, and not easily moved. You cloud adoption journey includes everything from building API’s, Lift and Shift, Containerization of Apps, or refactor”
  • Bob Spory: “Moving legacy applications to the cloud provides significant value. Some customers “lift and shift,” while others use a microservices approach.”
  • Roland Barcia: “Integration is the next big monolith organizations want to tackle. We are seeing a rebirth in the need to integrate across clouds and on-prem in a decentralized and cloud-native way”
  • Eric Minick: “I was working with a client earlier in the week who was building out strong APIs across key mainframe apps. Really wanted to improve testability and speed in those core systems to support cloud-native apps closer to customers.”
  • Ram Vennam: “Beauty of Kubernetes everywhere is you’re able to use a single monitoring and logging platform and gather metrics and traces from everywhere”

Here are links to the IBM resources mentioned in the CrowdChat:

Here’s the full transcript of the CrowdChat.

Another key step in the enterprise cloud journey is to attend IBM Think 2019, which takes place Feb. 12-15 in San Francisco. Registration is here.

Visit this site to register for cloud programs at Think 2019. Go to the IBM Professional Certification Program to certify your skills and accelerate your career. Sign up to take a certification exam.

And don’t forget to tune into theCUBE for live interviews with IBM executives, developers, partners and customers during Think 2019.

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