Survival of the fittest in the app modernisation jungle

The phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ is one that is often used in business circles as shorthand for the need to adopt aggressive, inherently ‘selfish’ strategies to come out on top of the food chain

However, the reality – not just in nature, but in the boardroom too – is that rather than unbound aggression, survival, and indeed long-term growth, is about agility, adaptability, preparedness and increased cooperation.

In today’s environment, where business challenges are many and intertwined, cutting a way through the jungle of complexity cannot be met by pure aggression. For organisations preparing for the future, the foundation of survival and growth is technological innovation and app modernisation that pivots to answer whatever challenge is around the bend. In the fight to cut though, IT – and developers in particular – are now the Bear Grylls of our organisations; equipping employees and customers with the tools and the mindset shift they need to prepare for any kind of wilderness.

What’s powering change in 2021?

Digital has been placed front and centre in 2021. Its crowning glory, however, is owed to the software it enables to affect profound changes in business. Changes such as new and enhanced customer experiences, operational efficiencies and product diversification, make digital-first a compelling offering.

But choosing just any cloud migration and application strategy won’t allow you to up-level your business success. For instance, new customer experiences must integrate with core legacy systems that have already taken root, while managing ever-growing volumes of software – and the cyber security risks associated with this – can be expensive and often carries hidden risks.

Gartner predicts that leaders who actively reduce technical debt, rather than getting swept away by jungle rapids, are 50% faster on their feet when it comes to service delivery.

Taking advantage of tools, such as serverless computing and AI, can be as dangerous as quicksand without the right expertise and guidance. Choosing well-designed applications can help organisations flourish and defend against unseen obstacles and leering predators.

Tackling modernisation with the right tools

Over time, large organisations might hide beneath a canopy of manual tasks that are designed with safety in mind – minimising risk and ensuring compliance. However, this often means software progress becomes a slow beast unfit for competition today.

Businesses must decide how best to modernise important software tasks, so that new features can get off the ground faster, rather than wasting time falling into hidden traps.

Finding the right path to reduce complexity and confusion might mean unpacking existing monoliths into loosely coupled microservices or containerising an app and moving it to a platform like Kubernetes which is built for enterprise API.

There are no shortcuts to simplifying software but by starting small, automating processes incrementally and extracting unnecessary layers of engineering complexity, businesses will head in the right direction.

What’s the advice?

Going on the app modernisation safari can feel like a convoluted and costly journey, but it doesn’t need to be. If done right, businesses can take advantage of the flexibility and technological innovations that cloud offers.

To consistently encourage cloud metamorphosis, leaders must deconstruct the needs of the business. Careful planning that considers how practices impact people, process, and technology, should change to align with overarching modernisation goals.

Making sure your people are capable should be at the forefront of all planning too, otherwise you might as well give them a map to nowhere. Expecting your developers to go on a path to production from solely producing software to developing and implementing, is a big ask, and requires planning to get the job done in a timely and cost-effective way.

Try creating a team focused on modernisation so they have ownership. Moreover, they then develop experience by being part of the process throughout its lifecycle. Remember, it is through greater cooperation that survival is achieved. Silos will be the death of your strategy.

Technology is just one vine in the modernisation jungle

Although at the head of the pride, technology alone can’t fix everything. Indeed, while the adoption of Kubernetes is increasing the understanding and access to support tools, teams still face nuanced challenges which require knowledge to navigate. Despite that, technology is an undeniable advantage that supports architectural patterns like microservices and APIs, reducing the complexity of operational tools by increasing automation. When it comes to technology, set your expectations of what is truly possible and understand where it can be used to support and simplify software, and manage configurations.

Today’s business landscape is a new wilderness, with emerging species of threats and opportunities sent to test even the strongest of organisations. Navigating a clear path now requires a strategy that encompasses agility and adaptability through technological modernisation. To make the most of investments and increase the chances of success, companies must start thinking about modernisation as a jungle, and each step a successful win that empowers and takes businesses that much closer to survival and acts as a great way to secure new talent and explorers.

About the Author

Bas Lemmens is VP Sales & GM at VMware Tanzu. VMware Tanzu helps you modernize your applications and infrastructure with a common goal: deliver better software to production, continuously. The portfolio simplifies multi-cloud operations, while freeing developers to move faster and access the right resources for building the best applications. VMware Tanzu enables development and operations’ teams to work together in new ways that deliver transformative business results. 

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