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What cloud computing means for your applications

Bernard Golden | April 6, 2016
Cloud computing is remaking the entire IT stack, from the foundation to the customer level. The application layer is no different.

For all but the largest and most sophisticated IT organizations, trying to write orchestration (or scheduling) for container-based microservice applications is much too challenging. Mainstream IT organizations will leverage a PaaS or container scheduling framework to manage their distributed applications. Again, these will be open source-based, because that will drive the fastest innovation and largest ecosystem for this critical application enabler. 

The framework portion of this new application stack is simultaneously the most important and most difficult decision IT groups will make over the next two years. Important because the capabilities of this portion dictates whether these groups will be able to meet company and market requirements for application richness and update frequency. Difficult because all of the contenders in this space are low to moderate maturity. Essentially, one has to bet on the outcome of a horse race while many of the entrants are still entering the starting gate. 

And, of course, the tools can’t solve the process problem. Absent a restructuring of process, adopting containers or a framework is like dropping a bigger engine into a car with flat tires. One can look to enormous disruption in IT organizations as they seek to blend roles and groups in an effort to streamline application lifecycles. Some employees will resist this trend, while others will embrace it. Transformation is one of the most difficult tasks for leaders, far harder than improving the performance of an existing but suboptimal organization. Again, the opinion of participants is unimportant; the expectation is that application lifecycles must accelerate, and any roadblocks will be removed. 

Unlike previous changes in IT, which tended to change one part of the people/process/technology triad while leaving the other aspects undisturbed, this shift is occurring in all three domains at once, which means an awful lot of balls in the air. However, the ongoing digital shift in business practices means that change cannot be deferred; there is a palpable sense in the air that business-as-usual is no longer sufficient. The bottom line is that you can expect enormous attention to be focused on the application tooling and process layer as IT organizations seek to handicap the field and place their bets, and prepare their staff to deal with the outcome.


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