When people and ideas come together, innovation emerges as a result. To achieve that, organisations need a perfect blend of people, process and technology. It also has a lot to do with the culture of the organisation and its Digital DNA.
DIGITAL CREED met Phil Andrews, Vice President, Enterprise Sales & Strategic Business Development, Asia Pacific, Red Hat on the side lines of The Red Hat Forum 2018, in Mumbai in early December. Phil explained what the Digital DNA is all about, and told us that DevOps and Development Culture are equally important.
Excerpts from the interview.
DC: What does it take to succeed with digital transformation? How does Digital DNA support this?
Phil Andrews: When you look at what is happening within the world, we’re dealing with one of the most unprecedented years of change. People call it Digital Transformation. The reality is, that’s a very overused word. It’s more like a complete business and corporate transformation. Sometimes, in street-level transformation, it is just being enabled by digital technologies. From a point of view of sustainability, extensibility, the ability to reach other countries, other businesses; the whole of this transformation is about the ideas that are brought about by the customers, the innovators, the entrepreneurs. But an idea on its own is not going to work.
You need two things: You need the culture that will stimulate, continue, and be able to grow that idea whether it’s in a large corporate or in a small innovative startup. And then you need what I call the Digital DNA to be able to sustain, scale and grow the capability.
By that I mean there are so many as-a-service technologies that you can bring in, that have what we call APIs that you can integrate with, and then use platforms that will allow you to create code, use and deploy code, and extend that through APIs – to be able to create some new product or service. That’s what’s happening with the majority of startups.
So what you’ve got there is an application that needs to integrate with so many things that have some special source code tying it all together, and creating the functionality. And then as it becomes more popular, the ability to scale. And as a startup , you have all of that available to you at your fingertips inside a corporate.
You may have a situation where you want a server and it’s going to take you a month (to get it). You want to start programming, you’ll need to have permission for the project. You want to somehow create some form and then will you be able to access systems while you might need permission for that. So the entire environment is going to stifle innovation. This is what we mean about the Digital DNA. For the next generation of innovative applications, it’s got to be cloud-ready. It’s got to be scalable and you’ve got to almost select your infrastructure by drop downs (menus) and tick boxes.
You also need to have some level of a formal integrated environment, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or tie applications and services together like spaghetti. You again need a drop down click to connect, allow a set of fields to be chosen, allow an API to be controlled and managed. Then you’ve got the fundamentals, you’ve got the ability to scale, and you’ve got the ability to connect.
The next generation of innovative applications will be cloud-ready and scalable. Organisations will set up their infrastructure using drop down menus and tick boxes.
DC: What role does DevOps play in all this?
Phil Andrews: The third thing we believe people need is some capability of creating — the DevOps part of it. And the capability of creating comes down to two things: it comes down to having a platform that doesn’t waste a developer’s time.
And then you have the creativity and the ability to work in teams which is what we call the culture. You have DevOps which is fundamentally, have I got a platform as a service and all the tools available to me? But then you’ve got the development culture, can you build cross-functional teams?
The magic starts to happen when you have the digital DNA and the cultural DNA, and got them together, and empower that. Most of what we talk about today is how that meets.
Some companies are well ahead on the journey, some are well ahead on the technology side of the journey, but need a lot of work on the people and the process side of the journey. Some are well ahead and actually have the people to process the platform. They are the leaders and the innovators within the industry.
The magic starts to happen when you have the digital DNA and the cultural DNA, and got them together, and empower that.
DC: What do organisations need to do to achieve this perfect blend of people, process and technology?
Phil Andrews: There are five areas we see people will need to pay attention. The first is optimising your technology to get ready for the cloud capability, and the ability to scale. Some of that is standard operating environment, some of that is building an infrastructure that will connect to the cloud allowing you to scale and be standard — so you don’t have 55 different operating systems, you have a single, unified approach. And that means tidying the house and optimizing.
The second thing is, building a capability where you either have internal cloud, external cloud or both – a hybrid environment. So you can have an application part running in-house, part running in the cloud. You may end up with a multinational company taking their entire application and locating it in a cloud, in a country they don’t have a data centre, because of legalities and data residency issues. So you have that cloud capability, a formal integration strategy and the integration toolsets.
Then the development capability, what we call cloud native app dev, DevOps.
And finally what we call the automation side. You do those five things while you have your digital DNA. Then you do the process, people DNA which we’ve introduced at Red Hat Innovation labs. That completes the whole jigsaw.
So customers may pick and choose where they want to work first. But it’s a journey.