• Francisco Perez van der Oord

Why we have a Cloud Native practice at ITQ


This blog was written following an Interview of our VP Cloud Native (Ruurd Keizer) has given to VMware to explain to other VMware partners why we have been investing in Cloud Native for the last five years. At ITQ, Ruurd is responsible for our Cloud Native team and all associated practices. He has been working at ITQ for years and with a PhD in Quantum Physics, he’s simply disguised as a cloud-native guy 😉.


It is generally known, I’m a big fan of VMware’s vision regarding Any Cloud, Any app, Any device. But. The reason WHY we started investing in CloudFoundry and Pivotal is Ruurd. He convinced us this was (and still is!) the next step. At that time, we could not have foreseen that VMware would acquire Pivotal, but apparently Ruurd is someone with foresight 😉.


Oh. Before I continue, I want to mention a funny extra detail. After writing this blog, I asked Ruurd to give me some feedback before I published it. His first reaction was “Your statement is not right about me. Our Cloud Native journey has been a team effort by my team en I: together we have determined and achieved this over the last five years. I think it's important to share this in your blog because it's the truth.” Alright: done! 😊


As said, the reason for this blog is to give other partners some background in response to the video interview he has given. I will sum up some of the questions, and the answers Ruurd has provided. In addition, I will add more depth with my two cents on several topics.


Q: "Why are containers and Kubernetes (K8s) important to the business of ITQ and our customers?"


Of course, there are many reasons, but let me mention three.

First, it is a vibe in the market. Customers ask for it and with the latest version of VMware vSphere you can purchase the install base. This is perhaps a somewhat boring explanation, but there is just market demand for containers and K8s.

Second, standardization: it is the de facto standard in the market for cloud-independent, infrastructure hosting. To me, it’s excellent a standard is being created and the best thing is: it’s a stablestandard.

Third, we see increased operational efficiency for our customers with a more self-healing, desired state infrastructure. So, you need fewer people to operate it and you achieve more speed for your developers.


Q: "Why do you think this shift is going on?"


I see a number of major reasons why this shift was started a while ago. The increase in demand has to do with the maturity level of the products and now customers want it for the following reasons:


· Agility and speed; shorter innovation loops on the business side. This is something all customers are actually waiting for: to bring new innovation and functionality to their customers faster.


· Portability; it’s easier to move apps across clouds: in this multi-cloud world, nobody uses one vendor anymore, since every cloud offers its own unique features. It makes sense, if you can easily move apps towards those features.


· Cost; I already gave this away in the previous question, but cost is an important issue. You make maximum use of a cloud infrastructure with less FTE.


Q: "Do you see an urgency for investing in this space?"


There are two different angles to which I would like to answer this question: as a partner and from the perspective of our customers. Rest assured: in both cases the answer is "yes" 😉


As a partner: our mission is to help our customers to become more agile. Since this is our mission statement, we need the skills to support this. We truly believe this movement is continuing and with demand so high, we invest much more in it right now. We want to be able to continuously support our customers AND stay ahead of the competition, so this is an area to invest in for the years to come.


From the perspective of our customers: of course, the urgency is different for many customers, but I’m sure they want to solve some of the issues in the three areas mentioned in the previous question (especially innovation loops and cost reduction).


Q: "How do you see the intersection between modern apps and multi-cloud?"


This comes to standardization and portability. You can basically do two things here: Kubernetes for infrastructure and Cloud Foundry for apps. This makes your apps portable in a multi-cloud world. I’ll explain the reason for Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry, and the relation between them. Kubernetes is ideal as an infrastructure platform where you can host all your off-the-shelve and Independent Software Vendor (ISV) apps. However, Kubernetes is not a developer platform. I like to stress this point, because it's often sold as such. Of course, when developers are presented with the choice of VMs or Containers they will pick the latter. But in reality, from a dev perspective Kubernetes is quite limited and you still have to deal with infrastructure concepts such as IP addresses, load balancers, storage volumes, etc. This is where Cloud Foundry comes in as a platform aimed at devs specifically. It will run side by side with, or rather as a layer on top of Kubernetes, and provide devs with a much richer environment in which they only have to care about their apps; everything else is automated. Like Kubernetes, Cloud Foundry is an open source standard and supported by a rich vendor ecosystem.


Q: "What excites you most about VMware Tanzu Ruurd?"


There are a lot of things to be excited about, but the most exciting for sure is the introduction of the Pivotal philosophy on outcome based approach. This means focus on developer and customer enablement, and maximizing customer success (Build). That already made me happy when Pivotal did this, but now this will be adopted by VMware.


In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of existing customers running vSphere, and with the new release, it will run Kubernetes out of the box in a little while from now (Run). Tanzu Mission Control allows you to manage those Kubernetes clusters cross cloud (Manage) across all clouds (incl. VMware Cloud). So you will have one central point to manage all your k8s clusters.


These three things represent the Build, Run, Manage idea to me. And this is a vision that I believe in. You have to build software in the most efficient way, it has to run as efficiently as possible and it has to be managed in one logical place.


Q: "How does VMware Tanzu align with the rest of your VMware portfolio?"


We embraced the VMware philosophy of Any Cloud, Any App, Any Device in its entirety. And very early on we doubled down on our Pivotal partnership as we felt this offered the missing piece of the puzzle for our customers. With the acquisition of Pivotal the puzzle is complete. The VMware vision always has been very good, but it was lacking the Cloud Native part. Now, this gap has been filled and we believe this makes the vision complete.


Q: "What business value does VMware Tanzu bring to your bottom line in terms of revenue opportunities?"


First, it's a necessary step to come closer to our WHY, which is to help customers to become more agile. Second, it helps us remain relevant as the independent VMware knowledge partner. So, from a revenue point of view, we are less concerned with the financial benefits. We believe this is what our customers need to achieve what we believe in.


Q: "What investments are you making around modern apps and how does VMware Tanzu fit into your strategy?"


We already focused on Cloud Native (or Tanzu) five years ago. At that time, this meant mostly Pivotal Platform and Application Modernization. Since then, we performed a lot of PKS and K8s implementations with great results. Right now, we are focusing on helping customers with their Kubernetes platforms and, additionally, we help them to properly adopt the entire cloud native idea, especially it’s not only technology, but also a people and process challenge.


Q: "Where are most customers today in their modern apps journey and how can you help them on their journey?"


It differs a lot: we have some customers that are fully into the "old" Pivotal strategy. We have tens of customers on PKS or K8s. Then there are many customers that are still starting on their journeys. We help them to develop practices to assess the application landscape, identify the right apps and then migrate them as efficiently as possible to new cloud platforms. We see the most success with customers that allow us to start with some business consultancy, focusing on a strategy based on business outcomes.


Q: "How can a partner get started on their modern apps journey?"

We started 5 years ago and in retrospect, this was a bit too early. If you would ask me where to invest right now it would be in:


· Capabilities of consultants; without engineers or consultants you will never get the platforms into production.


· Software developers. Onsite at customers, but it starts with you as a consultancy partner. You need devs to get your customers started. If you don't have them, I don't see how you get this organized.


· Invest in a practice that also addresses the people and process side. A platform is one thing, but learning to work with it is a different story. You must organize this for your customers.


· Enablement of marketing and sales. Especially, if you are traditionally used to selling software / hardware from an infrastructure concept, then it will be a complicated step is to get Marketing and Sales on board.




If you want to know more about how we deal with Cloud Native, don't hesitate to contact me at fperez@itq.nl. I want to thank Ruurd as a co-host for this blog and you can email him at rkeizer@itq.nl.

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© 2020 by Francisco Perez van der Oord

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