In today’s highly connected, SaaS/IaaS/PaaS-enabled world, the adage “every company is a software company” has never been more true. However, it’s the independent software vendors (ISVs), who build software as the primary revenue generator that face unique challenges given customer demand for delivering new features faster and the ever-increasing cost of delivering, installing, configuring, billing and supporting software solutions. As a result, ISVs are continually adapting and evolving their approach to development, DevOps and ongoing operations in order to innovate and delight their customers.
Moving development to the cloud provides ISVs with the IT infrastructure agility needed to reduce development cycles and streamline customer support. Typically, ISVs place a priority on speed and ease of product evolution. That means re-engineering, modernizing and developing new capabilities in response to both market demands and business needs (such as better data collection, insight into user behavior, etc.). That also means that development priorities outweigh IT/infrastructure priorities. Or, to put it another way, IT and cloud management teams need to learn how to survive in a culture driven by development priorities; they need to find innovative ways to eliminate friction, enable development, and still manage both costs and security.
The unintended consequences of prioritizing development over operations can be significant. In development-focused organizations, IT teams may not be empowered to define and implement governance for fear of “slowing down” development efforts. In addition, development teams often have unfettered ability to spin up virtual machines with high performance storage in order to keep up with delivery schedules. Both of these actions may be viewed by development teams as necessary but both can have a high price tag: there is less emphasis on scaling down, meaning idle resources continue to accrue cost even when unnecessary.
Development organizations may also not be aware of security risks that can leave a company’s data exposed. Developers are not necessarily experienced in managing the challenge of securing remote and mobile endpoints, and with distributed ecosystems, there is potential of accidentally exposing databases to public IPs, as this enterprise software vendor did when trying to meet aggressive development schedules that de-prioritized cost, optimization and security.
IT and cloud management teams are clearly at a disadvantage in development-dominated businesses that are more interested in meeting delivery schedules. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t be proactive and take action to reduce risks. Instead of implementing guardrails as part of governance, they can implement guidelines and establish notifications so IT teams can be aware of changes that have occurred in the application or infrastructure and have a financial or security implication. They can also look holistically at the development and release process; Azure-enabling an app, for example, can speed deployment by leveraging the Azure Marketplace and Azure Lighthouse, reduce support costs and simplify billing.
In addition, ISVs can partner with an Azure expert like VIAcode who can provide value-added support services integrated into Azure spend, help to streamline development and deployment through modern approaches to continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD), and modernize applications by using containerization and microservices, helping to take advantage of the benefits offered by cloud.