Posted: 08 Apr. 2021 5 min. read

Integrating cloud-native architecture with innovation core

A blog by Amod Bavare, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Tejas Desai, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Mac McEldon, senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Most organizations agree on the value that cloud brings; however, a misconception remains that simply lifting and shifting workloads to the cloud will provide a quick return on investments. To fully realize the value of cloud, companies need to consider an innovation-focused strategy enabled by a cloud-native approach.

The ongoing pandemic has showcased the need for businesses to truly innovate through the application of technology to become more agile and adaptive to changing market conditions. Companies now realize how important it is to consider the critical design goal of enabling innovation in their cloud strategy, define what the foundation for innovation should look like, and have increased awareness of the potential pitfalls of this journey. Companies should think of ways to implement cloud-native architecture wherever possible across all tiers of the IT landscape for greenfield development or legacy workload migration. Cloud-native architecture, focused on establishing core innovation capability across three critical pillars of platform foundations, enterprise data lakes, and modern compute services, can unlock tangible cloud benefits and offers optimal efficiency in the design, development, and operational phases of the application life cycle.

What is innovation core?

“Innovation core” is a technology perspective that has its roots in traditional modes of enterprise IT realigned to the cloud-native paradigm through a set of unified cloud-native architecture principles. It introduces an architectural paradigm that organizations can adopt to cover key facets of cloud-native adoption and better understand potential approaches to attaining organizational goals (figure 1).

Simply stated, the value proposition here is that getting the core services (referenced in figure 1) deployed successfully and in a shared model will unlock the desired benefits for the majority of innovation opportunities.

Establishing innovation core capability 

Establishing “innovation core” capability means getting the core services deployed successfully and in a shared model to unlock the desired benefits for most innovation opportunities.

  • Platform foundations: Service security, access control, platform governance, DevOps and automation, containment and connectivity, monitoring, and logging are some of the key domains of cloud foundations. These domains need to be bound by an operating model that provides capabilities related to transformation, governance, and engineering. Though a daunting task, getting the governance aspects correct is critical to success. Companies should establish a cloud business office for strategic guidance, cost control, and business value assurance, as well as a center of excellence for architectural quality assurance, cloud service management, and technology innovation to address potential pitfalls during the cloud adoption journey. 
  • Enterprise data lake: An enterprise data lake provides opportunities for the holistic mining of data for greater insight and business value by removing the constraints of siloed data warehouses, back offices, and line-of-business systems. A data lake paradigm fits well into cloud-native characteristics of hyperscale storage and horizontally scalable processing, leading major cloud service providers to offer various options for data lake implementation.
  • Modern compute services: A modern application platform should be considered as part of a cloud-native strategy, as it delivers the compute capabilities of the innovation core. With the evolution of virtualization, containerized compute, and serverless architecture, a modern application platform or containerization capability is better interpreted as any service that offers compute efficiency, scale, and resiliency, regardless of underpinning technology. As cloud service providers look to simplify the compute stack and its underlying operation, overt reliance on docker and Kubernetes will get abstracted over time. Thus, organizations need to consider modern application platforms. 

Potential constraints and steps to overcome

Applying innovation core thinking in cloud strategy can be challenging. Here are a few of the recurring pitfalls observed among organizations throughout their cloud adoption journey, along with prescriptive recommendations for how to overcome them.

  • Shared services are often perceived as bureaucratic or too costly. Organizations can structure agile and highly interoperable foundational services to cover cross-cutting concerns in a cloud-native fashion. This will remove barriers to adoption so that critical control requirements can be rapidly implemented, such as identity and access management and data governance.
  • Misunderstandings or miscommunications stretching across people, processes, and technology in innovation delivery frequently result in project failures. It is wise to preapprove defined usage scenarios to steer solution design groups toward better architecture decisions and promote efficient use of cloud-native design patterns with consistent and predictable operational characteristics.
  • Siloed solution design and inadequate collaboration across streams result in multiple disparate solutions and unnecessary technology proliferation. Cloud adopters need to diligently select fit-for-purpose, reusable solution components that are aligned to enterprise IT principles and architectural quality goals to reduce technology proliferation, lower the operational complexity and cost, and reduce operational risk.
  • Certain infrastructure domains demand some fresh thinking, and several organizations do not possess the requisite platform engineering skills aligned with new paradigms of cloud operations. Businesses might need to reskill the talent on the engineering team to find more appropriate, cloud-aligned ways to manage risk, especially regarding information security control implementation.
  • Platform engineering teams find roadblocks when they want to transition their healthy “proof-of-concept” portfolio to an operational mode. This is largely due to limited access given by information security, data privacy, or risk management business lines. To ease such transition, it is important for core services to be fully approved (governed) by all stakeholders and to be of the desired architectural quality for current and future operations.
  • Though there is a steep price tag attached to cloud adoption and migration, organizations should consider cloud-native services that are scalable on demand and ephemeral, giving increased cost-savings potential and fine-grained service composition. Innovation core allows financial planning by leveraging the analysis tool sets available, such as tagging, anomaly checks, and automatic decommissioning, as part of the service definition landscape.

Last word

By considering the latest in leading cloud-native approaches and their impact across the cloud services landscape, organizations can achieve their technology innovation targets. Establishing core innovation capability, as opposed to simply lifting and shifting workloads to cloud, can provide significant benefits and help organizations unlock the true benefits of cloud.  To learn more about this topic, please read our full report, “Awakening architecture with cloud innovation core” and “A new framing for cloud innovation.”

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David Linthicum

David Linthicum

Managing Director | Chief Cloud Strategy Officer

As the chief cloud strategy officer for Deloitte Consulting LLP, David is responsible for building innovative technologies that help clients operate more efficiently while delivering strategies that enable them to disrupt their markets. David is widely respected as a visionary in cloud computing—he was recently named the number one cloud influencer in a report by Apollo Research. For more than 20 years, he has inspired corporations and start-ups to innovate and use resources more productively. As the author of more than 13 books and 5,000 articles, David’s thought leadership has appeared in InfoWorld, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, Gigaom, and Prior to joining Deloitte, David served as senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, where he grew the practice into a major force in the cloud computing market. Previously, he led Blue Mountain Labs, helping organizations find value in cloud and other emerging technologies. He is a graduate of George Mason University.

Amod Bavare

Amod Bavare

Application Modernization & Innovation Go-to-Market Leader

Amod is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leads go-to-market for cloud transformations across the Application Modernization & Innovation operating portfolio. With more than 25 years of IT industry experience, Amod specializes in renovating architecture and migrating complex enterprise applications to the cloud, essentially helping to create value by modernizing clients’ legacy systems. His ability to lead organizations through digital transformation journeys is the reason he emerged as a leader in application modernization.