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September 2, 2018

Cloud Native Enterprises - Broad network access

Which don't have a lot to do with Cloud Native Apps but everything with truely embracing the paradigm shifts the Cloud has brought IT within the realm of businesses.

Read the Introduction first.

After reading the introduction to these posts you know what a cloud infrastructure is and what cloud native applications are, what about cloud native enterprises. Well these are enterprises that adhere to these same 5 characteristics. These enterprises, or organisations in general, cannot be modelled according to traditional enterprise models because of their specific market, competition, growth-stage, etc. These enterprises need to be, for all accounts, be cloud native in order to grow, succeed and be sustainable. Interestingly, but not surprisingly they require The Cloud and Cloud Native Applications.
In coming posts I will address every essential characteristic of The Cloud as defined by NIST from a perspective of the Enterprise. Unlike most cases, I will post these within the next 7 days and I certainly do hope before coming weekend.
  • On-demand self-service. When online services and core systems really seamlessly integrate.
  • Resource pooling. When synergy across value chains makes the difference.
  • Rapid elasticity. When business is extremely unpredictable.
  • Measured services. When business resources are limited.
Broad network access. When your business hours are truly 24x7.

This is an interesting aspect of the Cloud Native Enterprise. Because many organisations are already 24x7 businesses. Especially in the online world, being always on is a requirement to stay in business. 

Network here is not referring to the the computer network on a technical level as we know it. According to NIST, one of the characteristics of the cloud is broad network access, which from the definition, this means that the cloud is always accessible through the internet. The computer communications network.
Within the context of the Cloud Native Enterprise I am referring to the communications network of the business. On the one side, this encompasses all parties a business has dealings with. Think customers, users. partner, employees etc. I will get back to this later on in this post. But it also encompasses all means through which this communication takes place. Think devices and associated channels.

So, when we look at the business that is truly cloud native, when we talk about broad network access, we mean that the business is accessible by its complete business network, via a variety of devices and channels.

The Cloud Native Enterprise exposes its services, all of its services, in the same way to customers as it will to users and partners, as well as employees. Every member of every group enjoys the same level of service and the same constraints. Distinctions are made using the concept of role-based access to services. Still all services are always accessible to all members of the network through the same channels. In addition, it will provide the same level of service through all channels on all devices. Ideally. Of course contextual limitations are to be taken into account.

Traditional Focus - Cost vs Value

Consider the more traditional enterprise, where customers are assigned a specific account manager. The account manager maintains the relationship with the customer. She has specific KPI's that need to be met and she is more or less free in determining how to achieve this. Users of the customer are not aware of the account manager, instead they interface through a help-desk with the enterprise which will consists of self-service functionality for the more mundane support, automated systems like chatbots and more complex interaction through a help-desk agent.
Partners of the enterprise on the other hand, will work with peers within the enterprise. Informal contacts are more prevalent and accepted. Where customers and users will need to follow the formal processes in order for the enterprise to be more efficient, partners will follow the informal communication lines in order to be more effective. We see in traditional enterprises that with customers and users, processes are cost driven. Partner oriented processes are value driven.

Cloud Native Focus - Revenue

In the Cloud Native Enterprise, all interactions are focusing on revenue. Key aspect here is the homogeneous approach towards interaction with stakeholders. Customers, employees, users, partners are all considered stakeholder of the enterprise. Access to the enterprise is homogeneous across the full network, and processes are optimised for revenue. Sometimes resulting in focus on efficiency, other times on effectiveness.
What you will see is that business scalability, both temporal and geographical, is addressed explicitly. Every stakeholder in the enterprise's network can access the enterprise 24x7 and from any location.
For every organisation this is a challenge to manage. But for the Cloud Native Enterprise the mere premise of the Cloud as an IT facilitator, it becomes a matter of survival.

Consistent User Experience

The Cloud is great for realising products and services that scale with your business. Not talking about elasticity here, but about the ability to have a single approach towards addressing your stakeholders' needs and demands.
Leveraging the characteristics of the Cloud, including its technical aspects of broad network access, means that it is possible to provide all users of all services and products with a consistent user experience. This entails the same experience provided to customers, partners, employees etc. This consistent user experience across all services will allow for a seamless transition for a user from one role to another.

Concluding

As with its technical counterpart, (broad) network access is a key characteristic for the Cloud Native Enterprise, as it will provide a homogeneous approach towards accessibility of products and services across the full breadth of the business network

(Special thanks to my colleague Mandeep for pointing out some much needed clarifications in the original post)

Thanks once again for reading my blog. Please don't be reluctant to Tweet about it, put a link on Facebook or recommend this blog to your network on LinkedIn. Heck, send the link of my blog to all your Whatsapp friends and everybody in your contact-list. But if you really want to show your appreciation, drop a comment with your opinion on the topic, your experiences or anything else that is relevant.

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The text very explicitly communicates my own personal views, experiences and practices. Any similarities with the views, experiences and practices of any of my previous or current clients, customers or employers are strictly coincidental. This post is therefore my own, and I am the sole author of it and am the sole copyright holder of it.

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