So is there any sort of bridge you can build between old and new? In a recent conversation with Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich, he offered an intriguing response to that question:
Actually, I think there is a bridge, and that's the compatibility of containers... So those enterprise applications that are built on existing enterprise products, you can take advantage of containers without having to rearchitect your application... When customers come and talk about container strategy, one of the things they talk about is to containerize everything, including those legacy applications, with minimal changes.
Now, I've been schooled to think about containers in the context of "cloud-native" applications, where you break monolithic applications down into microservices. But Russinovich, who incidentally is one of the highest-profile advocates of microservices around, corrected me:
A monolith today is typically on a server or in a virtual machine. You take that and you put that monolithic chunk inside of a container. And now you can at least deploy it and manage it much more easily. It becomes portable... One of the advantages of putting it in a container is that, as you're breaking down the monolith in the container, you've already got the agile lifecycle around the containerization of it. Which is going to help you more quickly evolve it than if you left it in a virtual machine or on a server.
That's one way of easing the migration of legacy to cloud native. But it doesn't address the cultural disconnect. As Sasha Labourey, CEO of Jenkins-as-a-service provider CloudBees, told me: "It's not like if you don't do CD [continuous delivery] you're stupid. If you're a startup, it's easier. You don't have any legacy so it's cool. If you're a 'real' company, it's going to take time."
Tools are important, but people get accustomed to doing things a certain way. Plus, as Labourey says, new methodologies and technologies come along all the time and people get jaded. To convince them a new paradigm is going to make things better, the usual advice applies: Start small with your best developers on a project that has a very good chance of succeeding. If it all works out, you'll have the best internal marketing you could wish for.
So take those stats about widespread enterprise adoption of agile, devops, CICD, containers, and the like with a grain of salt. Sure, enterprises are spending more on greenfield, cloud-native development, but this looks like a big leap only from a distance. Shifts at the core happen one step at a time.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.