Modern apps are driving success for public and private organisations worldwide. These apps are reshaping relationships with consumers, employees and citizens, all of whom expect to be delighted by innovations that make their lives easier and more fulfilled. (See sidebar “What Is a Modern App” for more information.)


Modern apps have also played a vital role in enabling organisations to remain operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent global survey from Vanson Bourne, organisations have relied on modern, cloud-native apps to support their remote workforces and maintain reliable uptime. At the same time, modern apps have helped boost agility, allowing organisations to push quick updates in response to fast-moving changes.1


To realise the full benefits of modern apps—now and in the future—organisations must overcome key challenges. In particular, they need to reduce management complexity and create an infrastructure that can best support all-new and modernised existing apps. At the same time, they must employ a holistic model to app development and development—one that incorporates people, processes and technology. As part of that holistic model, organisations must better unite developer and IT operations teams, strengthening the DevOps approach that is crucial for achieving an organisation’s strategic goals.


Reducing complexityand creating a modern app infrastructure

Despite the great demand for modern apps and the significant potential they represent, many organisations struggle to execute their app strategies because of increasing complexity. These organisations are managing a greater diversity of apps than ever before, including legacy in-house, off-the-shelf and cloud-native apps.

Organisations are also building and running apps on multiple clouds—both private and public. Tapping into multiple clouds can provide swift access to new technologies while controlling costs and enhancing flexibility. But as even high-growth organisations report in the Vanson Bourne survey, having too many different technology platforms can be a substantial obstacle for app projects. Meanwhile, IT operations teams often struggle to manage large application portfolios that span several siloed cloud environments, each with its own management and security tools.


Operational complexity grows exponentially for businesses that acquire other businesses. Acquisitions force IT operations teams to manage even more distinct apps and environments. Because of the additional operational complexity that acquisitions produce, some acquiring businesses are unable to quickly make the software improvements their customers and employees demand.


Organisations need an infrastructure that can help reduce complexity by establishing greater consistency across data centre, cloud and edge environments. That infrastructure must also be optimised for supporting modern apps. It must provide the flexibility developers need for using their preferred tools, methodologies and processes. And it must offer the flexibility for seamlessly shifting apps among environments as priorities change.


Many organisations are adopting new technologies to establish more consistent infrastructure that better supports modern apps. Technologies such as containers, Kubernetes and microservices—which are redefining how apps are built, run and managed—are playing vital roles in these infrastructure transformations. When coupled with the right management tools, these technologies present important opportunities to reduce complexity in a multi-cloud world.


Working with the right people and optimising DevOps processes

Implementing new technologies is essential. But success in delivering modern apps isn’t just about technology. Having the right people and processes in place is equally important.

In the Vanson Bourne global survey, 88 percent of the 5,000 respondents agreed that organisations with software-minded leaders are the most successful with digital transformation efforts. People across the organisation must also have the right mindset. In the same survey, more than 60 percent of respondents from high-growth organisations reported that their organisation was on the cutting edge and quick to embrace change.


For all organisations looking to deliver modern apps, modernising the app development and operations culture is key. Organisations must resolve the tension between developers and IT operators. Developers, who are encouraged to do all they can to innovate faster, often view IT operators as hindering their progress. Meanwhile, IT operators, who are measured on how well they can minimise risk and maintain uptime, sometimes view developers as impatient mavericks.


If these tensions aren’t resolved, processes slow and end results suffer. Seventy-nine percent of respondents from the Vanson Bourne survey agree that without successfully modernising app development processes, their organisations will not be able to deliver a best-in-class user experience.


Organisations must bring development and IT operations teams together, recommitting to the DevOps approach. They need to employ processes that help shorten development and deployment cycles while maintaining security and reliability. Technologies such as Kubernetes are particularly well-suited to supporting a positive DevOps culture. Kubernetes provides operators with consistent infrastructure while making modern constructs (containers, microservices, APIs) available to developers.


Empowering developers, simplifying operations

VMware offers solutions that help organisations surmount the challenges of modern app delivery. For example, the VMware Tanzu portfolio empowers developers to accelerate modern app delivery while helping IT operators simplify management in a multi-cloud world.

VMware Tanzu integrates with VMware hybrid-cloud solutions to create an infrastructure optimised for modern apps. And VMware solutions unite development and operations teams around the shared goals of fast release cycles and superior application availability. With VMware Tanzu and other modern apps solutions from VMware, organisations have the tools they need to realise the tremendous benefits of modern apps. ▪


1. Vanson Bourne, commissioned by VMware. “Successful Digital Transformation: Apps at the Ready.” May 2020.

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What Is a Modern App?

VMware defines a modern app as a resilient, multi-cloud–supportive software service comprised of orchestrated releases of virtual machines, containers and serverless functions.


Here's a breakdown of the definition:


Resilient. The resiliency bar for modern apps is set higher than for traditional applications. Developers intentionally cause failures as part of ongoing modern app management and protection. The result is more-resilient apps that customers can depend on.


Multi-cloud. When modern apps are designed to run across multiple clouds, enterprises gain flexibility in choosing cloud providers, draw from a wider skills base for managing their applications and increase platform reliability.


Software service. Modern apps are composed of several software services, each of which may access legacy systems that haven’t yet been modernised.


Orchestrated releases. Modern apps are easier and more reliable to deploy. As platform technology transitions from bare metal to virtual machines (VMs) to containers and serverless environments, software depends less on the system running the code. These transitions shorten the time to move new code into production.


Virtual machines, containers and serverless functions. Modern apps don’t care where they are running: on bare metal, in a container or in a VM. VMs, containers and serverless functions all provide ways of packaging an app into an environment on which it can run.


Learn more about what is and isn’t a modern app in the VMware Office of the CTO blog post, “Defining Modern Applications.”