Deploying Cloud Native Applications with Partner Expertise
Modernizing enterprise applications to a cloud native architecture is not an endeavor for the faint of heart.
The decision to start orchestrating containerized microservices using Kubernetes is only the starting line for a long relay race that requires extensive team coordination and troubleshooting as new interdependencies are brought to light.
Though many organizations struggle to complete K8s modernization projects, mid-sized companies start out particularly disadvantaged. They are caught in the danger zone of having to scope out the migration of a number of existing systems and data sources, while not having ramped up enough in-house IT expertise to finish projects in a timely fashion to meet customer needs.
Directly hiring Kubernetes experts isn’t a feasible option either. Acknowledging a severe shortage of experienced talent, recruiting costs would be prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, the acquired team wouldn’t have a known shared history of success working together.
That’s why companies look to hand off many aspects of modernization to partners — value-added service providers and global system integrators who have run this race before.
Enablers with a Track Record
System integrators, value-added resellers and managed service providers grant themselves a natural head start over in-house teams through hard-won experience. The best partners have already completed multiple serious migration projects for different clients, and some of their resources may have stepped in to work on several in a given year.
In-house team members may have only completed a handful of such projects, or maybe even none at all, depending upon their roles.
This is not to say in-house teams aren’t motivated, or that they are incapable of completing a difficult project, it’s just that it’s very risky to change the core architecture of an operating business. The company often keeps employees on revenue-connected work, while slow-pedaling on modernization projects for years.
Partners are advantageous for organizations that want to get modernization plans out of the starting blocks and into action. Here’s why:
- Technical knowledge. Their people have used many of the leading open source tools and commercial platforms, and are often trained and/or certified as experts by the vendors themselves while maintaining a sense of impartiality to help customers apply the right mix of technologies for them.
- Situational awareness. Veteran consultants know what it looks like when a project is turning out successfully and can spot leading indicators for when it isn’t working. This is not to say strong partners have a “crystal ball” to predict and prevent failure with certainty, but they can draw on a wealth of previous decisions and outcomes.
- Core competencies. Partners can establish Centers of Excellence and peer working groups to serve customers even better than expected within the needs of a vertical industry, or across specific horizontal technology specializations and practices, such as cloud computing, security and compliance, or fault tolerance and disaster recovery.
The most advanced partners with proven track records will usually be in high demand with low availability, which can present a great opportunity for an up-and-coming firm to work smarter to prove itself. But however great all these benefits sound, it is important to remember that not all services firms will make good modernization partners.
There will always be some shops that rotate in less-knowledgeable staff who choose the path of least resistance. For instance, the firm may just lift and shift a legacy architecture directly into the cloud, rather than rethinking the environment for cloud native deployment and resilient operations on Day 2 and beyond.
Why Software Vendors Cultivate Partner Ecosystems
The world’s biggest commercial vendors like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft have long attributed much of their sustained revenue growth rate (usually 30% or more, annually) to a highly effective channel partner and developer network strategy to produce results for customers.
SaaS companies also famously lean on MSPs to aggregate their customers’ apps with other services and set up API integrations with systems of record. When partners help with ongoing maintenance and support, it frees up more of the vendor’s resources to focus on new innovations.
Vendors that do too much customization for end clients can quickly lose sight of their own product offering, as their bespoke code can become a support issue (or worse, an unsupported fork) if the customization work was provided by the product vendor.
The cloud native ecosystem is different from the proprietary vendor world, as most of the architecture is based on open source projects and components. The participation of service partners in modernization takes on new importance here, as they are the only ones likely to have actually explored the vast Cloud Native Computing Foundation landscape of tools in a variety of business application contexts.
Enabling Kubernetes Expert Partners at Kasten by Veeam
Kasten by Veeam built one of the first data storage, backup and recovery solutions designed specifically for cloud native environments. It now enables implementation partners as part of each client’s modernization project.
For partner enablement, it takes a three-pronged approach:
- Partner certification. It offers highly technical practitioner-level education, with certifications awarded, for expert partner resources to implement backup and recovery service at challenging client sites.
- Market education. Kasten also sponsors a free Kubecampus online learning academy with educational courses designed to ramp up partner resources that are earlier on their journey toward K8s expertise.
- Leverage a global network. Kasten, now a part of Veeam, can leverage Veeam’s well-established VCSP-certified service provider network to increase its ability to deliver and service projects globally.
A robust partner delivery network allows the vendor to focus on making its own packaged solutions as up-to-date and performant as possible for customers.
The Intellyx Take
There is pent-up demand for modernization project help within companies that haven’t yet built up enough cloud native skills in-house. They want experts on site who’ve done it all.
In the long run, the best leave behind of vendors and service providers working hand in hand would be a smooth handoff of some duties to the end customers’ own in-house resources.
Great partners can become a knowledge transfer bridge for end customers as they increase their own level of cloud native sophistication through the initial modernization and beyond, to continued maintenance and operations.