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Cloud-native architectures are reshaping the enterprise

Abby Kearns Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation

“Cloud-native” is a term that simply did not exist a decade ago. In fact, “cloud” was barely part of the lexicon, so the concept of a cloud-focused technology stack was not even a consideration. This is why, even today, only 15% of enterprise workloads run in cloud-native environments, according to Capgemini.

It’s been a slow journey, as a new technology ecosystem had first to be invented and then mature to make a cloud-native approach viable for most organizations. Today, a cloud-native approach is finally capable of delivering powerful results for businesses of all types. CIOs are taking notice. So much so, in fact, that cloud-native workloads are expected to increase to 32% by 2020.

In leveraging cloud-native architectures, companies are now able to shape their futures while staying relevant in a quickly changing industry and meeting customers’ increasing expectations.

What it means to be cloud-native

Being cloud-native means architecting your applications to take full advantage of the benefits of a cloud-computing delivery model—elasticity, scale, and resiliency—using continuous delivery methods. This type of architecture, also referred to as 12-factor apps, has been around for many years, but has only recently started to build momentum.

Most enterprises want to drastically speed up their ability to build, test, and deploy software, and they look to cloud-native application architectures and continuous delivery practices to reduce that time from months to hours.

[ Special Coverage: KubeCon/CloudNativeCon ]

The ability to continually deploy and update applications without disrupting the user experience is at the core of a digitally transformed company. In fact, companies that can’t do this fast enough will be left behind. Those that stick to legacy development models will find that the market, and their customers’ expectations, have changed by the time they deploy their application, moving them and their product further behind the competition. Cloud-native solves this by keeping pace with customer demand and the speed of technology.

What cloud-native looks like in real life

Here are just a few examples of what a cloud-native approach looks like in the real world.

The Home Depot needed to figure out how to survive in the modern retail world. By leveraging cloud-native architectures and continuous delivery practices, the home-improvement retailer was able to develop 2,000-plus applications that handle over 2 billion service calls a month—and reduced deployment times from six weeks to six hours.

Gap Inc., a major clothing retailer, with 3,300 stores and more than $15 billion in annual revenue, used cloud-native application architectures for price optimization, helping it stay competitive in the highly volatile retail apparel market. It now handles 6,000 price adjustments every four hours.

It’s not just retail companies reaping the benefits of moving to cloud-native architectures, however. In 2014, the US Air Force’s IT operations organization was spending 70% of its budget on infrastructure and just 30% on new capabilities. By implementing continuous delivery practices and taking advantage of the flexibility that cloud-native application architectures provided, it dramatically increased the USAF's application development efforts while slashing the time needed to implement new ideas by 70%. This change is expected to save $600 million.

A competitive differentiator

These are just a few examples of how enterprises have shaped their futures with cloud-native architectures. This trend will only continue and, as the ecosystem around cloud-native technologies grows, it will become the competitive differentiator that will keep your company relevant in the future.

For more on the cloud-native enterprise, see my keynote presentation, "Building Bridges: How Open Source Cloud Technologies Are Fostering Interoperability and Building A Massive Ecosystem," at KubeCon/CloudNativeCon on May 2-4 in Copenhagen. TechBeacon readers receive a 20% discount when they enter code KCCNEUTB.

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