Cloud/SaaS/SDN, Forum

Part III: Building, Managing and Scaling Enterprise Cloud Systems – Organizational Challenges

Our past two blogs focused on challenges and opportunities in the current suite of products targeted towards cloud deployments. In this post, we explore the organizational challenges associated with the broad adoption of cloud-enabled technologies. DevOps has emerged as an area of organizational innovation as a response to some of the challenges posed by the adoption of cloud-enabled technologies. DevOps is the intersection of development, technology operations and quality assurance teams. The traditional approach of separate departments (Development, IT Operations and Quality Assurance) with siloed processes and roles/responsibilities are not conducive to the successful deployment of new development methodologies such as agile software development or to meet the demand for increase rate of production for new releases… Consequently organizations have felt a growing need for an integrated DevOps teams, an uncomfortable union between developers and IT operations. The biggest challenge with DevOps is overcoming the cultural barrier. DevOps is a philosophy, not a market. Organizations are used to different processes, have different oversight and control mechanisms i.e. they speak different languages. Majority of the changes within organizations must be focused on changing culture and processes. Tools, if chosen correctly can act as a catalyst in influencing the cultural and process changes. Understanding the needs for a DevOps team is essential

  • IT needs to have sufficient oversight and control
  • IT needs to be able to manage identity and access controls
  • Regulatory and Compliance obligations should be met
  • Developers need to have flexibility and optimal performance
Tools that can open up communication channels between teams, provide clarity and visibility between the parties involved, and tools that are easy to adopt and use are the ones that can enable teams to embrace the DevOps philosophy. One of our portfolio companies, Qubell recently announced a partnership with Grid Dynamics, another pioneer of continuous delivery and release automation deployments. The two companies have joined forces to create an integrated technology and services offering aimed at helping enterprises that run on Oracle ATG become more agile. Beyond the ATG environment, Qubell addresses the need for application level orchestration of DevOps engineers. Its value is particularly relevant in highly complexity applications requiring rich service environments. It offers a self service visual portal which handles the full automation, provisioning and orchestration required by these applications, whether in a private, public, or hybrid cloud environments. Companies can make use of the experience automation engineers at Qubell to supplement their in-house DevOps teams to build a turnkey, ready to run Agile Software factory. Given the rapid rate of innovation and changes in cloud-enabled technologies enterprises are hesitant to get locked into a specific vendor.  This creates a twofold challenge for new technology vendors (start-ups) – replacing incumbents, and at the same time, avoiding becoming replaceable. Innovative business and deployment models that enable a fast ramp-up/deployment and a pay-as-you-consume model can help replace incumbents by getting a foot in the door. The latter is very difficult. Long integration processes that usually ensure irreplaceability do not work anymore. Startups with long integration processes cannot close business opportunities and fail to scale beyond a certain point. We believe a great way to create irreplaceability is by creating customer stickiness instead. Customer stickiness can be created through delivering on specific attributes of a value proposition such virality, ease of integration, enhanced productivity, attractive business models and future proofing (see table below):  
Attribute Criteria
Virality Is broadly shared and appreciated within CISO/CIO networks, leading to viral usage growth
Has frequent (active) use as part of business operation, and not for one-time compliance use
Irreplaceability Provides ability to easily integrate with other products via APIs/known Interfaces – creating mini ecosystems
Has Key Algorithms, IP that clearly differentiates them from competitors
Empowerment and Productivity Empowers non-users to use the system features, understand and make modifications easily, without technical expertise.
Provides centralized and customizable reporting – with measurable and actionable insights used every day
Works in the background with limited user involvement, along with the ability to automate tasks
Attractive Business Models Has low Startup Costs – i.e. can be on-boarded quickly and with low initial investment
Enables businesses to make existing infrastructure more productive
Reduces Total Cost of Ownership and Maintenance costs
Future proof Is scalable – user based, volume based extensibility for future growth
Is extensible – open platforms that can incorporate future enhancements easily
Provides APIs for other tools to integrate with, thereby creating an ecosystem