2019 is Shaping Up to be a Monumental Year for Cloud Native Technology
When I sat down at the end of last year to catch my breath and take stock of the cloud ecosystem, I made a few predictions for 2019, many are happening more quickly than I expected. Now that we’re halfway through the year — collectively reflecting on the professional wins, losses, and progress made — I want to revisit my view of the trends defining the cloud native ecosystem in 2019. In particular: market consolidation.
The cloud native market is starting to consolidate. We’re starting to see more incumbent players acquiring cloud native technology companies — pulling these startups in to help shape the shift in their technology, culture and operations needed to support the future tech stack.
During a two-week span in May, we saw VMware acquire Bitnami and Palo Alto Networks acquired Twistlock — further solidifying the diverse and increasingly valuable future that cloud native technologies will foster. Larger incumbent companies see cloud native startups as an opportunity to help them evolve their company to meet the quickly changing needs of the technology stack and their customers.
Wave of Consolidation
My prediction that consolidation would increase this year is bearing out. In fact, I expect activity to pick up even more during the second half of this year, especially with the very early and widely adopted cloud native technologies. It’s a natural cycle in technology — a broad dispersion of new emerging technologies eventually leads to consolidation in the offerings as standardization occurs. This cycle is just happening faster in the cloud native space.
Packaged applications and container security are among many important developments in this space, and large, well-positioned enterprises are on the lookout, eager to buy more. There will be more blockbuster deals, like F5 Network’s acquisition of NGINX from March to support the desire to align future strategies around key technologies.
Consider Kubernetes, for example, it’s a super impactful technology and has changed the conversation around cloud native architecture, but it’s only a small piece of a much larger puzzle we’re all trying to solve. As these emerging technologies proliferate and become commoditized, a necessary period of consolidation will follow, particularly with respect to the most commoditizable aspects of that technology.
All open source software follows a cycle — early development efforts that include lots of hype and excitement, followed by standardization, and then the eventual maturity of the technology. One sign of any infrastructure technology’s success is that it stops being the main topic of conversation. Docker has seen that happen, to some degree. So have Cloud Foundry and OpenStack. Kubernetes is definitely next. That’s just the way these markets and ecosystems evolve. As technology matures and consensus is reached either through adoption or acquisition, a wave of consolidation follows in kind.
Take the Long View
For me, it’s important to maintain focus on the macro trends. Take a step back from the tech-focused hype and pay attention to the greater evolution that is happening. In technology, particularly in enterprise infrastructure, there is a massive shift happening. The entire middleware market is being disrupted and rewritten. In short, the technologies that have been developed over the last twenty to thirty years need to be revisited since they were not developed with the cloud native world in mind.
What does that look like for your organization? Spend less time thinking about the hot technology of the day and more time dedicated to embracing the challenges and opportunities that cloud native technology will enable for your organization. What are the business outcomes you would like to see? How will the new cloud native technologies help you achieve that?
Moving to the cloud is not a complete strategy. Changing your business to write better software faster is equal parts vision, strategy, and execution. Having a sustained vision on what you want your company to look like in the future is key. Followed by a cogent strategy on how to achieve that outcome, which will include a mix of appropriate technology choices as well as an understanding of how your people will fit into that vision.
Sure, the cloud is foundational, but these technologies are all components and tools to help businesses achieve specific goals. Building a digitized business that’s more successful, more agile and thereby more competitive in a rapidly changing landscape is the type of mission that teams will rally around and thrive.
As consolidation picks up this summer and fall, we should all take notice and strategize for what comes next. But more importantly, we should keep an eye on how these various technologies fit into the larger evolution that is happening. We’re all prone to getting wrapped up in our little slice of the world. And while there’s nothing wrong with fully engaging in our own sector, we will all see more clearly when we zoom out and consider the big picture.