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Going Cloud Native: Question Your Assumptions



Battery Ventures Technology Fellow Adrian Cockcroft headlined the latest Advanced Amazon Web Services Meetup in San Francisco last week, giving a talk on trends in enterprise cloud adoption and how companies can leverage the cloud to speed innovation and deliver services that will transform enterprise IT.

As enterprises rapidly embrace the cloud, Cockcroft said, the debate has shifted from a question of “should we move to the cloud?” to “how do we move to the cloud?” To capitalize on the cloud’s many benefits—such as the ability to quickly deploy and scale applications globally—apps must be designed to be “cloud native”: That is, inherently designed for the cloud, not simply a legacy app moved to a cloud environment. But how do you do that? Cockcroft’s advice for the 40 entrepreneurs and engineers in the audience started with a quote by Will Rogers, “It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.”

Cockcroft noted that many organizations are struggling with cloud adoption because they have practices and processes based on assumptions that simply are no longer true. While incumbents are stuck on these perceptions of reality, disruptors have different assumptions that enable them to radically transform the technology landscape.

Cockcroft highlighted that when Netflix (his former employer) planned its move to the cloud, skeptics told executives they couldn’t do it. When they did, these critics retorted that the approach would only work for Netflix, and not other organizations, but now many organizations are using Netflix Open Source Software (OSS) tools to move to the cloud. Cockcroft said his goal now is to teach other entrepreneurs and engineers that they, too, can not only transform their organizations, as Netflix did by moving its infrastructure to the cloud, but become developers of truly industry disrupting technologies.

Cockcroft provided both theoretical and practical advice for doing this: Organizations must not only push themselves to make their assumptions explicit, he said, but also work to remove hand-offs and friction from the application-development and delivery processes and not do all the heavy lifting themselves. With open-source code, continuous delivery and micro-services deployed on cloud, organizations can quickly deploy very reliable products. And ultimately, it all comes down to one thing—speed. Speed wins in the marketplace.


Alicia Halatsis

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