If you are heading up an application develop team or are running an IT organization and you are looking at your developers initial steps to developing cloud native applications, I want to share some experienced insights gained from PaaS customers. For me it is a view of the path many of you may be heading down applying some best practices that can optimize Dev and Ops together.
Apprenda, one of our ACI ecosystem partners, and Cisco recently hosted a series of presentations, we called PaaS Days, about the Application-Centric Enterprise to share how private PaaS and policy driven automation together can address real-world problems such as application time-to-market, datacenter security and corporate compliance. I want to share some insights I gained there about different application strategies for cloud. Depending on the company’s cloud maturity level and whether the management is centralized or not, the application strategy can take on a project oriented or an organization level scope.
The primary value drivers for an application strategy scoped at the project level were to address specific application concerns quickly such as
- scalability and availability, or
- the need to use cloud native patterns not yet supported by IT.
In this case, developers are adopting technology independent of IT and are driven by immediate business needs.
With an application strategy scoped at the organizational level, the primary value drivers are
- to support the business need to rapidly deliver new software,
- standardize the architecture for the organizations applications, and
- to provide developers a service that parallels a pure public cloud offering.
For a business transforming itself into a digital enterprise, the composition of applications in the application portfolio changes over time. The percentage of cloud native applications expands but existing traditional applications will still exist to sustain key systems of record. The new systems of engagement built on cloud native applications are expected to deliver greater customer value, drive revenue growth, and contribute to improved bottom line results for the enterprise.
If application developers take a project oriented approach they may simply focus on a cloud native platform for their one project. When there are many projects, developer efficiency improves by using a Platform-as-a-Service approach.
When this approach can support cloud native applications AND existing applications, value delivery by the application portfolio can be better optimized. IT leadership will want to see shared efficiencies and controls to ensure scale, performance, and compliance with security mandates as the value associated with the cloud native applications expands to real significance and strategic importance.
A simple example to appreciate the value and synergy by integrating the cloud stack from the PaaS layer to the infrastructure is to look at security policy for customer data in cloud native applications. Tenant isolation and white list policies can be specified at the PaaS layer for the cloud native application and automatically applied by Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure. See my blog ACI Policy Enables Secure PaaS and More at CLEUR for more details.
If the application platform strategy supports a common policy framework based upon the ACI policy model, the enterprise gets the operational simplicity, security, and agility delivered by ACI. The Developer team benefits from speed, efficiency, and secure policy driven application deployment using Apprenda PaaS for example. The Operations team benefits from automated workflows linking the application and infrastructure control and monitoring. And the end result is good for scaling the number of applications and delivering greater customer value using an open, agile, and secure architecture for IT.