In this digital age, new technology is adopted day in and day out, regardless of whether businesses are ready or not.
Businesses can achieve many benefits by being early tech adopters, but there is also a catch to keep in mind: that the technology may be “not quite right yet”. So, knowing when to jump on the bandwagon is important. This is where research and good advice is paramount – you want to ensure that the technology is ready and appropriate for the task required.
Evaluating new technology is time-consuming and the tech itself can be more expensive when it’s first released. However, the benefits and strategic advantages of early adoption can also be significant. We sat down with professionals from a variety of leading tech companies to evaluate the likes of “Serverless” Cloud Computing, DevOps and NoOps, and to investigate the implication of the IoT (Internet of Things) on a company’s cybersecurity.
The Pros and Cons of “Serverless” Cloud Computing
Traditional Cloud Computing itself has broken down a lot of barriers for organisations, enabling them to take advantage of technology by removing capital expenditure. However, Cloud Computing environments still require a degree of systems administration, such as installation, configuration and maintenance. All of this scaffolding would almost certainly increase the overhead of running services, which means that it’s possible one would be better off conducting business operations in the traditional fashion.
Serverless Cloud Computing solves this issue by abstracting away the platform entirely. Of course, there are still servers in serverless, they’re just no longer your problem. The servers are managed by the vendor and this can significantly reduce the investment necessary for DevOps. It lowers expenses and frees up developers to create and expand their applications without being constrained by a server capacity. Overall, this minimises the time-to-market of new features and services, and if your competitor hasn’t embraced serverless and you have, you’re going to move much faster than them.
Tim Berry, a Technical Instructor at A Cloud Guru is a massive supporter of serverless. He states that “ACG has serverless in its blood, as our entire platform was built to be serverless from the ground up, and continues to operate without a single traditional virtual machine!”
Cyber Response Manager at Telstra, Adam Fabian, also promotes the benefits of serverless, describing how “Our serverless platform enables us to acquire forensic artefacts from cloud, on premise and 3rd party environments, run fleet wide triage analysis at scale and automatically run investigation workflows over these artefacts ready for an incident responder to jump in and start doing what they are best at!”
At this point, you may be asking yourself, why isn’t everything serverless? Are there any downsides to this approach? Well, serverless computing can be a great fit for some applications but of course, every new design pattern brings with it certain issues, along with benefits. Berry highlights this by giving the following example: “If your business model is not event driven, and is looking to transform from a traditional development organisation to a serverless one, you will face many challenges, and it certainly cannot be done overnight.”
Other disadvantages for businesses adopting serverless architecture include that it is not built for long-running processes where applications are constantly running. Vendor lock-in is a risk as well, as you are now playing by the vendor’s rules. You will lose control over the hardware, run times and updates and this can create issues in consistency and limit the resources you have available.
Businesses must also ensure they are keeping up to date with changes from various vendors and considering the cost of reviewing those overheads. Melissa Klemke, a Product Director at ELMO stresses that “The maintenance of these serverless computing systems can be time-consuming especially with the reality of rapidly changing solutions in the SAAS (Software as a service) world and legislative changes.”
Businesses are also recognising that data is their most valuable asset, and the security around data integrity, maintenance and support is one to consider very thoroughly and thoughtfully. To overcome this security challenge with serverless, Justin Spyridis, a Group Owner IOT at Telstra, tells us how “Telstra is using its current core network capabilities as a vehicle to reduce the complexities around implementing security on the device.”
Serverless does have its disadvantages, but nevertheless, its overall functions can provide numerous benefits. Today, serverless product offerings are quite mature and in the future, they will continue to be complemented with an increased variety of deployment models. This allows organisations to pick and choose the right products for the job, creating a mixed environment rather than being locked into a single solution.
DevOps Versus NoOps
When tech professionals stay knowledgeable and up to date on new tech, it enables them to discover the capabilities of new technology for their business operations. Andrew Bowen, an Engineering Support Team Lead at Objective shares how “Objective uses Linkedin learning to enable employees to learn about technologies and software that is applicable to our business.” Many tech companies have jumped on the DevOps bandwagon, after scanning the tech environment for new trends.
So what is so good about DevOps? Well, it helps to produce better quality software that can be delivered at a faster rate than that of traditional development, and this speed enables organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market. DevOps has rapidly become an integral part of daily life due to many tech companies using multiple infrastructure resources, for example, Azure and Amazon.
Omar Sayeed Khan, a Quality Assurance team lead at ELMO, says that “DevOps help facilitate the deployment process and also ensure continuous integration and continuous delivery are configured in an optimized fashion.”
Khan also states “DevOps is quite useful for quality assurance. It’s also time efficient since dependency or configuration becomes very easy and the core framework does not get influenced by an external system where the docker image gets implemented.”
“AI is able to accelerate DevOps processes by automating tasks we didn’t feel were able to be automated”, explains Matt Harvey, a DevOps Practice Lead from Cognizant. “The most basic example of this is in monitoring – instead of sitting down to determine a set of pre-defined thresholds for a metric we’re looking at, we can simply drop in a model of expected behaviour and allow AI to determine what is acceptable future behaviour.”
Harvey also brings to our attention ‘NoOps’, which has recently been gathering momentum in the technology industry. As he explains, “NoOps is a term that refers to the removal of the operations function from the build, test and run application lifecycle within your organisation.”
Typically, what it means is that an organisation or team has their application intertwined with the “serverless” as a service platform, and within your organisational boundaries you will have no operational capability – hence the term “NoOps. By leveraging cloud services, organizations can further shrink administration, configuration and deployment work, in order to maximize development time.
But what does the rise of NoOps mean for DevOps? In a nutshell, an increase in demand for NoOps narrows the scope for DevOps. Instead of bringing the two silos together to influence the way they work, you are now restricted to enhancing development with the principles and practices learnt from operations.
The Threat of Cyber Security Posed by the Digital Age
A prevalent threat in the world of tech is, of course, cyber security. Company data has never been more vulnerable. In the age of the IoT( Internet of Things), the probability of exposure or loss resulting from a data breach is increasingly likely. Cybersecurity continues to evolve as a mainstream business risk for everyone from large corporate organisations and government departments, to small and medium sized enterprises and individuals
Rahul Lobo, Director at EY Cyber, emphasises that, “IoT increases the threat landscape in Cyber due to its pervasiveness across aspects of our lives. This includes devices that we wear (i.e. Smart Watches, activity trackers, medical devices etc.), Drive (smart vehicles), smart homes (heating, cooling).” He also acknowledges that “All of these devices are connected to the internet and each other using embedded software and sensors to communicate. And software is inherently insecure and prone to bugs, which increases the attack surface and hence the threat of cyber-attack. As such, this creates a very large security impact.”
In order for companies to mitigate IoT security risks, it is crucial for managers to understand their business and the threat landscape. Organisation leaders should encourage risk awareness, innovative and pre-emptive defence mentality, to enable an agile response (vs. reaction) to new and evolving tactics from adversaries.
4 key cybersecurity questions that organisation leaders should ask and have the answer to include:
- What and where are your critical assets? e.g. infrastructure, data
- What is your ecosystem?
- Are they vulnerable to attacks?
- How are you securing?
More often than not, organisations are still overly reliant on point-in-time deployment of security technologies and practices to manage and mitigate cyber risk, without understanding the threats their business must manage. The “Business Context” is unique to each organisation and human intelligence and insight provide valuable input for enabling the effective deployment and operational use of technologies.
Having a plan and knowing where the business is going is fundamental to assessing the technology platforms that need to be added and ensuring a business is primed to successfully adopt new technologies.
And even if your business does not operate in a tech-heavy industry, awareness of new technology and trends should still be a high priority. As Allen Liaw, a Business Analyst Programmer at Flight Centre Travel Group, tells us, tech roles are of critical importance at FCTG. “Tech professionals are cautious and conscious of new tech trends and bring in the skills and experiences to help the company improve the business process. This saves time that employees spend on daily repeat tasks and opens the firm up to a world of new opportunities.”
Interested in a role in the tech industry at a company who are using new and emerging technologies to their advantage? Check out the job opportunities at some of Australia’s top companies.