The race to build digital solutions that entice us with new experiences continues its momentum for ride sharing, home sharing, food delivery, and financial planning. Energized by the ability to build apps that scale quickly with demand, digital disruptors have made it possible for us to now rent cars hourly from private owners. Drivers can self pick up a vehicle on-demand enabled by an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor and mobile app. Financial planning disruptors make it now possible for us to buy and sell partial shares of financial stocks based on our moods or core beliefs at any time of the day.
Recently, this digital momentum surprised me when I found out that you can now order fast food and convenience groceries for delivery from 7-Eleven in minutes, wherever you are—in a park, on the beach—as long as you’re within the required radius of at least one 7-Eleven store. With a mobile app and a network of delivery pros from DoorDash, you can have a Slurpee and a pack of Twizzlers in less than 30 minutes. The DoorDash drivers work whatever hours they want and are incentivised by real-time market analysis and demand.
A complex digital ecosystem supports all of this interconnectedness with apps running on individual mobile devices for both the consumers and the delivery people. There’s also the backend systems of complex application architectures for the retail chains and, of course,the financial transaction processing with connectivity to bank accounts for payment through a network of providers to deposit in the banks of the retailer and delivery person. Add to all of that the supply chain apps that are used to produce and merchandise those end products like Slurpees and groceries and take-out meals, and you have a digital universe that is humming along like no one could have imagined even a few years ago. Technology is the business.
The API Economy Enables Extensibility
What enables this digital disruption? It’s the application programming interfaces (APIs) that provide a way for applications and digital endpoints to transfer data. That’s it. As simple as that sounds, it’s a lot more complex than meets the eye.
For example, how does one device or application respond to a request from a mobile device to add more french fries to your takeout order? There are wireless networks and protocols to communicate through and the Internet with gateways that require security “hand-shakes” entering and exiting one domain into another. How does it all work? You may have already guessed it, but if not…
It’s all of the coding that software engineers have been doing with a maniacal focus on connecting, building, and even monetizing APIs that supports this interconnectivity.
In order for software to thrive in this new digital universe, it must have, at the very least, an “open API” that allows other digital assets to interact with it. The authors of the software must expose something public and referenceable for other systems to connect to it while locking the proprietary portion that is licensed for sale. In other cases, “open source” software is used where all the code is exposed for developers to use and modify as they see fit.
This interconnectivity is characterized as “extensibility”. Extensibility is the ability for an application to extend its reach, its value, its data to another system and, likewise, its ability to consume or integrate the value, data, or functionality from another system. The execs at 7-Eleven turned this digital extensibility switch on years ago with the adoption of handheld merchandising apps that track usage patterns and make sure each store has the most relevant supply of whatever is cherished the most in whatever community it serves. They’ve taken it one step further with the new delivery service, 7Now, that is in place for many locations.
Impact on Infrastructure in the Era of Cloud
Considering today’s rapidly changing digital environments and all the apps that support the disruption occurring almost everywhere, static infrastructure is no longer a viable solution. Enterprises now realize that planning, sizing, installing, and maintaining all the compute power to support the software code that runs the business is a losing proposition. By the time everything is approved with the proper specs, the market has changed. The big conundrum, though, is balancing the existing investment in all of the infrastructure still on premises for many seasoned enterprises and the need for agility in the cloud. Public cloud offerings, like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud have made it easy to have compute power on demand so these disruptors can both build and pay as they go. The digital value that they create has a direct relation to its cost in real time.
With a multitude of offerings for private and public cloud resources, disruptors can build just about any application and service delivery platform from just about anywhere to serve whatever need is out there. The big problem enterprises have today is that this disruption can go awry if not handled properly.
Here’s a list of what happens when it goes wrong:
- Disparate teams across the organization are accessing public cloud resources independently from:
- The same public cloud provider with multiple accounts that span many different users and team environments
- Competing public cloud providers (for the same or similar resources) without comparing price and functionality across all providers
- IT departments, CFOs, CIOs, and other IT leaders are having “sticker shock” from monthly cloud spending bills
- Security policies such as “least privilege” access have been violated while current and former employees have access to environments without the need
- Very little access to public cloud resources has been granted to the majority of users because current IT policy concludes that it’s just too risky
- Lengthy provisioning processes are still in place because only a small set of users have the expertise to oversee and deliver public cloud resources effectively
To find out more about how to fix this, see our previous blog on Advancing a Cloud Control Strategy.
A solid cloud management platform designed for complete cloud control will have extensibility to future and legacy technology so that the resulting provisioned infrastructure can be traced back to central control on one platform. A key element of today’s extensible platform is the ability to connect to APIs from any environment to include the technology in any upstream or downstream process. For example, CloudBolt’s enterprise customers often use ServiceNow for the system of record for all infrastructure and maintain it in a configuration management database (CMDB). The central platform must be able to update that record in the IT provisioning process.
CloudBolt Provides a Solid Foundation
CloudBolt provides these three elements for a solid IT provisioning process and more.