The "Cloud-Native" Label Matters. Here's Why.

March 7, 2017 Richard Seroter

It's easy to get caught up in meaningless labels. Was Alex Rodriguez a "True Yankee"? Does Top Gun qualify as a "classic" movie? Is a hot dog really a "sandwich"? Honestly, it doesn't matter. But some labels do matter. They denote achievement, and impact our expectations. Olympic Athlete. Certified Public Accountant. And yes, "cloud-native." In 2016, many top companies decided to reestablish their competitive advantage. How? By rebuilding themselves as cloud natives and becoming good at software. And they asked Pivotal to help make that happen.

You know the cloud natives: Stripe, Amazon, Snap, Google, Facebook. Born in the cloud era, these companies use software to deliver useful experiences and have architectures that let them adapt to changing needs. They've upended traditional enterprises by redefining the rules. These companies changed your expectations, maybe without realizing it. You've come to expect self-service access to user-centric, always-on services. Anywhere. How is a one-hundred year-old bank supposed to compete with that? By adopting the rules of the cloud natives! That means a cloud-native approach to applications, data, integration, operations, security, and culture. With help from Pivotal's software and practices, these well-established enterprises are fighting back. And winning.

Seven of the top ten banks. Nine of the largest automakers. Eight of the top ten retailers. The list goes on. What do they have in common? Mass adoption of Pivotal cloud technology and practices. In 2016, we doubled our customer count for PCF, and over half of existing customers expanded their PCF subscriptions. Bookings grew 130% year over year and exceeded $270 million. What does this mean? Companies aren’t just dabbling with transformation. No, they are fully embracing a cloud-native approach to software and betting on Pivotal to help them get there.

Let's look at how these companies earned that "cloud-native" label.

Cloud-native apps. It's all about delivering business value through software. That's why I.T. exists. In 2016, many enterprises stopped fiddling with do-it-yourself platforms and refocused. They needed new architectural patterns. They needed to iterate on resilient, scalable apps. And they need to identify a sustainable place to run everything. Overwhelmingly, they chose Spring Boot and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. With over 10 million downloads each month, Spring Boot became the default choice for Java microservices. Pivotal Cloud Foundry proved to be the best place to run modern Java, .NET and Node.js apps. And not just new apps. Pivotal customers used our re-platforming services to modernize their most important systems.

Cloud-native data. Along with building highly-available, continuously updated apps, enterprises have started upgrading their data stores. Databases deployed and managed through BOSH give Pivotal customers a secure, on-demand solution. It's not easy to continuously deliver databases. But with the right architecture and technology, it's achievable. Pivotal can help add modern databases to new or existing apps through native and partner services.

Cloud-native integration. This is an underrated, but critical advantage used by the cloud natives. You have more services, in more locations, used by more parties. Legacy integration middleware is holding you back. It's tough to deliver systems that depend on specialized integration teams and manual platforms. This past year, companies like Mulesoft and Tibco integrated modern versions of their products into Pivotal Cloud Foundry. At the same time, a new crop of integration solutions emerged to handle event-driven applications. One such solution is Spring Cloud Data Flow. It stands to completely change how you think about data integration. Smart companies use a host of new patterns to connect apps and data stores. With Pivotal's help, enterprises are about to adopt the same cloud-native patterns.

Cloud-native security. The hardware and software industries created a crisis. They proposed slow changes and reactive monitoring as a way to stay safe. Wrong. In 2016, we introduced a model ("3 R's") that changed how you thought about data center security: reduce risk by going faster. The cloud natives don't leave apps to rot on unpatched infrastructure. No, they take an aggressive approach to automated security from the beginning, and it shows. Pivotal Cloud Foundry brought modern security practices to the enterprise with full-stack patching, secure containers, ephemeral servers, fully-encrypted networking, turn-key compliance, and more.

Cloud-native operations. It's not enough to stand up a platform. That's only the start of it! Cloud natives operate platforms that demand minimal manual upkeep and keep their focus on the customer. That's what Pivotal Cloud Foundry offers. In 2016, we also gave customers the choice of where to run their fully-integrated, automated platform. New partnerships with Google and Microsoft offered unprecedented cloud portability.  Advances in automation helped customers deploy security fixes and functional upgrades with zero-downtime. Pivotal gives enterprises a low-overhead way to run software as effectively as the cloud-natives. That's game-changing.

Cloud-native culture. The five characteristics above won't make you a cloud-native unless you also change your culture. No more functional silos that impede progress. No more lengthy "requirements" phases that fail to ask for user feedback. No more hierarchies that protect the status-quo and prevent adaptability. Pivotal customers like Allianz, Volkswagen, The Home Depot, and Liberty Mutual spent 2016 changing their corporate DNA. In doing so, they've changed their futures.

Pivotal is leveling the playing field for enterprises by helping turn them into cloud natives. More than just a label, cloud-native is about a new way of delivering value and corporate agility through software. There's no company better poised to help you transform. Join in.

About the Author

Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is a Senior Director of Product for Pivotal, a 10-time Microsoft MVP for cloud, an instructor for developer-centric training company Pluralsight, the lead InfoQ.com editor for cloud computing, and author of multiple books on application integration strategies. As a Senior Director of Product at Pivotal, Richard heads up product marketing and helps customers see how to transform the way they build software. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog (seroter.wordpress.com) on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

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