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Enterprise Platforms can facilitate accelerated technology adoption within the context and guardrails of the organisation’s policies. 

These platform ecosystems need careful consideration, and the right foundations need to be put in place, to ensure such a platform is a resounding success, with measurable return on investment. 

Below, I’ll explore the relationship between Developer Experience (DevEx), Site Reliability Engineering (SRE Operations) and the Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE), reflecting on my own experience as well as industry best practices. These perspectives should offer helpful insights to organisation embarking on this journey, to ensure that the platform launch is a long-term sustainable business value-add. 

Why platforms matter

Organisations navigate digital landscapes, and so the need for agility, scalability, operating efficiency and leaner time-to-market is paramount. In the Application Development landscape, there is an increasing interest in leveraging a form of a Cloud-Native Application hosting known as Container Enterprise Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions. 

Related: Adopting a platform strategy for growth with seven considerations

The success of such a Platform Build and holistic adoption, however, is not necessarily all-technical and hinges on its alignment with the organisation's own transformational strategy, but also cultural shifts and stakeholder buy-in that will drive holistic organisational change.

Some of the typical business requirements to baseline context;

  • Agility and scalability: Organisations need to rapidly adapt and scale, making the agility and scalability of platforms critical.

  • Operating efficiency: Streamlining operations is a key driver for adopting these platforms, directly impacting on the bottom line and offering standardised cost optimisation.

  • Leaner time-to-market: With the increasing pace of market demands, a platform that enables quicker deployment is invaluable.

"Organisations are racing to modernise in the cloud era, yet many grapple with aligning their cloud migration strategies to their core business objectives. This rush often leads to cloud cost escalations and limited ROI, with cloud agility and governance being relegated to afterthoughts, resulting in a disconnection between technology investments and business outcomes." - Mark Faiers, Associate Director, UK&I Consulting, Cognizant
Business readiness and PaaS adoption

Launching an application-hosting platform is a complex task. 

It involves combining strategy, operations (OPS), and a focus on the people (DEV) using the platform. This blend is what makes a platform successful. 

It meets current needs and is ready for future challenges and opportunities. This approach turns the platform into a strategic tool that aligns with the broader goals of the organisation. It's about more than just adopting new technology; it's about being prepared for the future of technology and encouraging continuous improvement and innovation.

In preparing for platform adoption, we explore how Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) principles, the Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE), and Developer Experience (DevEx) can, and do, work effectively together. These elements need to align to create an effective development environment.

Why should businesses develop and launch a platform based on Kubernetes and container orchestration? A strong Cloud CCoE and solid SRE practices are important, but they need to work in a way that supports your business objectives. The CCoE guides the strategy, while SRE ensures the operations run smoothly and uses the technology to support the wider goals of the organisation. 

The key to success, ironically, lies with the quality of such in-house Developer Experience (DevEx). A good DevEx helps users to be more innovative and efficient. It includes providing the right tools and a supportive environment for developers. This means having automated workflows, secure coding practices, and a culture that encourages learning and collaboration.

The process of launching a successful platform involves combining the strategic approach of the CCoE with the operational strength of SRE and enhancing it with a good DevEx. This approach ensures that the platform is not only technically sound and reliable but also supports innovation. Each element – strategic vision, operational reliability, and creativity – are important to ensure a holistic Business Success.

The role of Centre of Excellence, SRE & Platform Engineering

This business and re-organisation journey towards cloud adoption and platform success is the strategic alignment of its cloud strategy. This strategy should be comprehensive, answering fundamental questions such as:

  1. Is there an established and mature cloud adoption process with dedicated cloud estate management? 
  2. Are teams in place to lead and champion the platform initiative effectively?
  3. And what is the role of the Cloud Centre of Excellence, which encompasses best practices in security, networking, compliance, and governance, is crucial. It should be in alignment to support the delivery of this internal service within the organisation.
The ‘First’ principles & frameworks

While the SRE function ensures operational reliability, the CCoE guides the strategy using frameworks like DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) and CAF (Cloud Adoption Framework) for optimal cloud adoption practices.

The frameworks

The Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) is something of a best practice guide that is offered by major cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. It covers various dimensions from business and technical aspects to people and process considerations. The CAF provides guidelines on strategies, and design principles for effective cloud (components) adoption. 

Conversely, the DORA Framework focuses on the principles and practices that drive high performance in software delivery and operational performance. It underscores the importance of DevOps practices, continuous delivery, automation, and a culture of continuous improvement, - central to the Developer Experience (DevEx). With People playing the central key role, as the crux of an organisation, this is where the emphasis of focus is.

High performance development 

Have the strategic objectives established and clear, as in the example below:  
 
“We want a platform which can leveraged to scale, support our developers to build and launch new products and services, -  that we can delight our customers with.” 
 
The intersection of SRE principles and the guidance of the Cloud CCoE, especially when adopting frameworks like CAF and DORA, is the foundation for organisations pursuing operational excellence in the cloud. 

These frameworks, while serving different primary purposes, are crucial in their convergence, particularly in the context of container platforms and meeting SLA targets.

Blue and White Funnel Chart Presentation - 1


This convergence is not just about technical alignment; it's about fostering an environment where strategy, operational reliability, and a superior DevEx coalesce to drive holistic business success. 
 
And how do we get started achieving success in the mission statement?
 

‘Just’ getting started
"A critical starting point is evaluating infrastructure readiness. First and foremost, this encompasses assessing the current state of security and compliance, development and operations integration, and cost management, including cost center attribution. Governance, risk management, resilience, and recovery capabilities also form an integral part of this assessment. Each of these areas plays a pivotal role in ensuring the platform is built on a solid and secure foundation." - Nicholas Kinch, Associate Director, UK&I Consulting, Cognizant
Platform OKRs, Development Cadence and Metrics

To ensure the platform meets its initial objectives, such as faster time-to-market, it is essential to establish clear metrics and responsibilities:

  • Performance metrics: Implement metrics to track and measure key performance indicators like time-to-market for new products, developer productivity, and customer satisfaction with new services. These metrics will provide tangible evidence of the platform's impact and success.

  • Collaborative development: Ensure a collaborative approach where the CCoE, SRE, and DevEx teams work in unison. Each team should understand their specific roles and how they contribute to the overall objective. It's important to get this right to get the team both skilled and enabled on the path to success. Ensure to hold regular cross-functional meetings and clear communication channels.

  • The need for great communication will be critical.

  • Continuous evaluation and improvement: Adopt an iterative approach to platform development and rollout. Find internal early adopters of such a platform. Even with the `alpha` release enable and support the early users, those pioneers who will be able to provide fast feedback for Platform releases 0.0.1 and onwards. This will help validate assumptions and ensure the “features” invested into the Platform development are real and have tangible, measurable ROI. 

  • Automate everything: The platform build, the code scan, the local, remote build, the integration test, and the unit tests, the BDD Tests, user acceptance test, doc generation. As much as (gen AI) possible - do it. 

  • Don't forget to be celebrating platform launch and adoption wins - however small within your own organisation.

In short, much effort is to be spent on continuously evaluating the platform development performance against set metrics and be open to adjusting as necessary. This could involve tweaking operational processes, enhancing developer tools, or re-aligning strategies with evolving business goals.

Release, break platform often. Especially those alpha & beta versions 

To harness the true potential of cloud technology, this 'cloud-smart' strategy is essential. This approach prioritises thoughtful workload assessment, strategic cloud adoption, and aligns IT with business strategy, ensuring cloud investments not only foster agility but also deliver tangible business value. It's about intelligent modernisation, where agility, cost-efficiency, and strategic alignment converge to drive long-term success.

Conclusion

The lessons learned from navigating the landscape of container platforms – a landscape as varied and complex as the CNCF’s technology offerings – are profound. More than just implementing a “technical solution”, it’s about intricately weaving this technology into the fabric of an organisation. “Technology is the easy bit” line I am sure you’ve heard enough of, in your circles. 

If you’d like to talk to us about how it could be put to work in your organisation, please get in touch.


Jaroslav Pantsjoha

Associate Director, UK&I Consulting, Cognizant

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